Sunday, 27 April 2008

Can you feel the haaaate tonight?


'Consider Yourself', Norton marches on, horrible suit and shirt, Nancys and Olivers standing on stairs - you know what's happening. The lines have closed, and one more Nancy MUST LEAVE. But first we MUST HEAR a sodding reprise of their group number from last night. It is the same as it was then.

Crashing on, then, Norton reminds us of the show's ridiculous premise and voting rules, welcomes Barbara Windsor, welcomes the judges (I really like Denise's dress, and am not keen on Barry's weird duffle-coat-effect jacket)[but his haircut is even worse - Louise], and then we go to a recap.

Niamh was Winehouse, if Winehouse was a bit shit and musical theatre and was liable to weep at negative criticism; Rachel was rubbish but nobody in the studio appeared to notice; Jessie HAAAAAAAAAAAAATE; Sarah was ironic, don't you think; Keisha lost her voice and almost her modesty with her blossoming Nancy; Ashley was cheesy but WANTS TO BE HERE; the Olivers sang a song from 'Annie', because that too is about orphanages, and Alexander went through; Sam did some amazing belting and is happy that ALW thinks she's improved; Jodie was marvellous, particularly on the key change (drink!).

Barry says that EIGHT SHOWS A WEEK is a marathon, and 'Oliver!' is a tough show, and he never took a day off sick, which gets a ripple of applause, for some reason. Barrowman has taken it upon himself to be the ladies' fitness guru, and went through their cupboards and fridge and threw away the food he disapproved of [like month-old salad. What's not to disapprove of? - Louise]. This week's mission for the Nancys is to go rowing, because you need to be physically fit to do EIGHT SHOWS A WEEK. They go to a boat club and meet boys in Lycra, and seem happy about that. Sarah struggled on the rowing machine because she only has little legs. Rachel and Jessie were good. So at least they're good at something.

Anyway, Ashley and Rachel are team captains, and pick their own crews. Sarah is last to be picked and pretends to be fake-sad, when in fact she's genuine-sad. Keisha struggled, but the rest of the girls pulled her through; Sarah got confused; Jodie is unfit and over EIGHT SHOWS A WEEK it'll begin to show. Rachel's team win, but the two captains are singled out as the day's exceptional performers. Rachel refers to her crew as Team Tucker, the stuck-up bint.

Oh dear God, their group number is 'Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves'. They have golden chairs and disgusting shiny tops. Why on EARTH is Rachel bellowing at us? She looks distinctly uncomfortable with the dancing. Niamh is all in her throat and not good. Jessie gets the bridge - HAAAAAAAAAAAATE. [And her movement is still stilted as all hell. And she can't quite get that crook out of her arm, can she? Arrrrrrr, Jimlad. - Steve] The harmonies aren't too bad, though. Barbara Windsor is wheeled out to give feedback on the group shows. She was friends with Lionel Bart, and she thinks that if he WAS NOT DEAD he would like to put a spanner in the works and redefine the role of Nancy. Next week, Barbara and Denise will be giving the ladies an Acting Masterclass. AHAHAHA. Denise will be watching Jodie and Jessie very closely.

Time to meet Alexander, the fifth Oliver through to the semi-final. He's 11, his favourite band is Bon Jovi [Omigod, is it 1988 all over again? - Georgi]and he loves to play air guitar. Being in the West End would be the best thing that has ever happened in his whole life. Sigh. The boys' group number is 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight', from The Lion King. Alexander's voice is noticeably less confident than the other four who've already progressed, and though I'm not a huge fan of too much vibrato and am definitely anti forced throat vibrato, he doesn't have any at all. Then they go into parts, and oh dear me, this is not good.

The panel are asked who is not Nancy. Barry says Keisha is not Nancy, Denise says Ashley isn't, Barrowman says Keisha isn't. Sigh. Been here before, I think.

The results! Samantha could still be Nancy. Jessie could still be Nancy. HAAAAAAAAAATE. Jodie and Rachel could both still be Nancy, and Jodie does mental over-reaction, as usual. Keisha and Ashley - one of them is in the sing-off, one is safe. Ashley is safe, and she punches the air in glee [dear me, the viewers must be deaf - Louise]. That leaves Sarah and Niamh for the one remaining guaranteed place in next week's show - and quite rightly, that place is Sarah's. She doesn't quite know how to react, bless her.

So Niamh and Keisha to sing off, then. Keisha has the lowest number of votes this week, but ALW may decide to save her. AGAIN. They're singing 'The Rose', which may suit Niamh because it's all emo. She begins the song, in characteristic fragile stylee. Keisha takes the key change and proper belts it, and she really does have a hell of a voice up there even with a bad throat. Niamh is also good on the higher notes, albeit not as powerful, when she's not having to shout them in a pop song way. Tough call, ALW.

ALW says it is a travesty about having to decide between these two and he is ANGRY about having to DO HIS FUCKING JOB, but he saves Niamh [and finally takes note that the public do NOT see Keisha as Nancy - Louise] [Racialists. - Steve]. He says it's an impossible choice, he thought she was absolutely wonderful and has a huge career ahead of her, and he'll do anything he can to help her. I'd suggest you could a) not get rid of her or b) write her a song, but b) probably wouldn't help her career. [Look what it did for Elvis... - Georgi]

ZOMG next week the Olivers are doing High School Musical songs! With THEIR HATS! Keisha sings us out in Shirley Bassey fashion, with no Cockney accent at all. In the key change, ALW gets up and applauds her in vociferous fashion. Niamh is all emo and weepy. Shocker. Keisha milks the money note. [That was amazing. Good ol' Keisha, making the band wait until she'd damn well finished. Suddenly I see a big future in musical theatre for her. - Steve] ALW then PICKS UP HIS FILES AND STORMS OFF STAGE! Get her!

Well, bitches, another fun weekend. Join us again next Saturday when you may well have the fun of a Georgi-Carrie liveblog!

Saturday, 26 April 2008

The school of hard knock life

Last week! The panel was in disagreement over the sacking of Francesca. [AS WAS I. - Steve] ALW didn't like Ashley's voice but saved her anyway while John Barrowman was adamant the wrong decision had been made. It's time to up the pace, it's time for the Nancys!


Graham Norton bounds on stage in a hideous dark yellow suit [Mustard, dahling! -Georgi] and purple shiny shirt combo, makes a crack about the Lord twitching on his throne and reminds us yet again that it's our votes that decide who could be Nancy.

Right on cue, the remaining eight Nancys launch into You've Gotta Pick a Pocket with the Olivers. The Nancys' cockney accents are still shit, especially Jessie's. Oh dear. I'm reaching for the alcohol already... [Now, now, people being shit is not a Drink!able offence. We'd never make it through a whole hour if that was in the rules... - Georgi]

Norton reminds us we are at the crucial halfway mark, no one really stands out yet and Ashley has to win back everyone after last week's sing-off.

Time to introduce the ["Expert"? - Georgi] panel of leading West End lady Denise van Outen, Craftsman John Barrowman and Dame Barry Edna Humphries. A quick blast of Phantom music to cue in Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber and then Barrowman and DVO bow to his superiority as usual while excluding the Dame from their little gang. This is now so predictable it's time for another drink. [I am truly, genuinely, horrifically embarrassed by this now, particularly as the Olivers are joining in with it. MAKE IT STOP. - Carrie]

ALW also reminds viewers we are at the halfway point with no clear front runner. Of the eight left, there are four, maybe six Nancy contenders and two who he's not sure what to do with. Whoever could he mean? It's not just about the big notes, it's an Acting role and needs to be real. [Judge them on their acting, then. Give them a scene from a musical leading into a song. Get Barrowman to play opposite them. He's good at that. Ask the Marias. - Carrie] We're going to get pop songs tonight (why?) [and how is that different from any other week? - Georgi] and he wants to hear great lyrics.

Norton cracks an iffy joke about slums and Oliver! being a Victorian version of the credit crunch for Nancy.

First up are Niamh and Rachel. Niamh was glad to have her sister there last week. Then she nipped home to Bangor (NI) to drum up the Irish vote [because she is IRISH and from IRELAND - Carrie]. She says she is glad they are supporting her. Rachel thinks the previous Saturday was fantastic, given that she almost didn't get through two months ago. She's happy she proved herself then comments on the shock of Fran's exit – it could be anyone next (you don't say?). With the competition getting fierce, Rachel is keeping her focus on the finishing line. [She is from Belfast, remember, so she is wearing a t-shirt that says I *heart* Belfast. Cynical, calculating, vote-grabbing bint. - Carrie]

Emo Niamh sings 'Valerie' dressed in a pink frock with a flouncy skirt. She shamelessly copies Amy Winehouse, right down to her vocalisation and movements [and hair. However, she does have Boys, whom she shamelessly gropes. Also, on second viewing, she utterly fucks up the lyrics. - Carrie]. I am not impressed. Rachel sings Avril Lavigne's 'I'm With You' ["Modern" "Pop" "Classic"? No wonder the music industry is eating itself. Also, her dress is ugly. - Georgi] – her top notes are screechy and her acting is completely stagey and OTT. If this is the best this pair can come up with at this point, they are in deep shit.

Niamh says Bangor was overwhelming but she feels spurred on a bit [and wants to do it for her Fanz. Not for herself. Obv. - Georgi]. Rachel says her main competition is everyone, but especially Jessie, who is brilliant [and ALSO FROM IRELAND - Carrie]. Time for panel comments.

Barrowman says both have stage presence. Niamh has a big diction problem, while Rachel set the bar for tonight. I wonder if he was watching the same performance as me. [Maybe the Botox stopped him from looking at Rachel and he was transported into a parallel dimension, Torchwood-stylee, where he was judging someone, y'know, good. - Carrie] [Hee! - Louise] The Dame says Niamh showed a new aspect to Nancy (dear god) and picks up on the Winehouse rip-off (although he's more generous than I), and that Rachel has given her best performance so far. That may well be true but it was still pants. DVO thinks Niamh lacked punch, it was not a full performance and she still has more to prove. She also noticed the diction problems. Rachel was strong and consistent but DVO sets her a challenge to be warmer and playful as she wants to see her relationship with Oliver and the boys. [Good point, to be honest. Jodie, Sam and Sarah interact well with the Olivers, demonstrated most obviously by the way they're the ones that keep getting named as the 'favourites' by the boys who go through. Whoever plays Nancy needs to be engaged with Fagin's gang, seeing as she dies for helping Oliver, and stuff. - Carrie]

ALW makes an odd comment about the Dame possibly being arrested for headbutting an artist. Eh? What was that about? [I think it was an attempt at a topical gag. - Carrie] [Doh, yes of course! However, the Dame should be arrested for crimes against hair - Louise] He says Niamh needs work while Rachel was real (hmmm, real off-key methinks).

Next are Jessie and Sarah. Jessie knows she can do better, concedes movement is not her strong point and she needs to work on it, then admits she keeps getting cast as a boy. She insists she can be elegant. Sarah loved every minute of last week. She was over the moon and feels like a serious contender: “It's changed me. I'm coming closer to my dream role.” [Sounds to me like she has been on a journey? - Georgi]

Jessie sings Sam Brown's 'Stop!' [Oh, please, no. I LIKE this song. But not when Jessie sings it. - Georgi] [It's my favourite song of all time. That they gave it to Jessie of all people just shows how much this show wants me to suffer. - Steve] She does some stagey acting and weird huggy stuff with her backing dancer. It's not convincing and I'm going off her as the weeks roll by. Why doesn't she act to the dancer on the big moments instead of to the audience? [Because she's awful? I text Georgi at this point to say, 'HAAAAAAAAAATE'. Meanwhile, my sister texts me to say, 'Am I the only one who hates Jessie?' I think that says it all. - Carrie][I actually got Carrie's text on Sunday morning, before having watched the show, and yet somehow still knew that it was referring to Jessie's performance. I must be psychic. - Georgi] Sarah is covering Alanis Morrisette's 'Ironic'. She fills the stage easily and does some good acting out. I'm warming to her more and more. [She has a more flattering dress this week. I enjoyed her acting too - understated, unlike some *cough*Rachel*cough*. Still in my top two. - Georgi]

Jessie admits to watching to EastEnders to help her cockernee accent. She does a pants impression of Peggy Mitchell yelling “get ouda my pub!”. Oh dear. I'm a 'Stenders addict and while Babs Windsor can be a bit mockney at times, Jessie has a snowball's chance of filling her white stilettos. Sarah confesses her secret weapon is a teapot. Cut to a VT of her slurping out of the spout. She insists it's to steam her voice, confesses she is “mental” and offers to go home. [Bless her. - Carrie][Graham: "But is she the panel's cup of tea?" Ha ha! - Georgi]

The Dame tells Jessie she has a distinctive quality and not to lose it. Jessie butts in and agrees she's lost a bit of herself. Sarah was lovely, a great voice but still girl next door rather than slum – she needs to sustain the edge. DVO reminds us tonight's focus is on Acting. Sarah is an intelligent performer – we've seen a transition, best so far for acting. Jessie is holding back: “be you”. Barrowman concurs that Jessie has lost her essence. She needs to do a U turn and fix things. DVO butts in to ask if he means that Jessie can't take direction well, then Jessie interrupts again to say she knows she has to work on stuff. Yeah, we had noticed. Barrowman says Sarah did a wonderful job, she told the story and could be singing her way to the West End.

ALW says these are two strong contenders who are wildly different. Either could easily be Nancy. [Which is the essence of the competition. Which is why he says the same thing every bloody week. About time he found a new tune to whistle, isn't it? - Georgi] Sarah acted with real intelligence.

Cut to Keisha and Ashley. Keisha had expected to be in the bottom two again so is happy to still be in the competition. Her sister says she's blowing people away. Then Keisha panics she's losing her voice. [But then how would she cope with doing EIGHT SHOWS A WEEK?!? - Georgi] Ashley felt sick at ALW's comment about not rating her voice. Cue tears. Predictable. Yawn. She was thankful to be saved as she hadn't seen it coming. Barrowman backstage says she has to fight now as he felt it was the wrong decision last week.

Keisha sings 'I'm Outta Love' by Anastasia. Her frock is a ghastly canary yellow and if it was cut any lower she'd be spilling out. It's an OK performance, with not much Acting. [When your backing Boys outAct you, you're in trouble. Also, her voice cracked on the high notes. The yellow dress suits her though. Respect Da Cleavage, that's what I say. - Georgi] Ashley covers la Streisand's 'Evergreen'. It's a difficult song. ALW looks blank. Ashley looks confident though, it's her best so far, I reckon. Which is not saying much as she is so not Nancy. [Black so doesn't suit her. The thing about Ashley is I think she's actually quite good doing the Nancy bits, but her solo performances are pretty whelming. - Georgi]

Norton reminds us that Keisha has overcome the odds. Keisha says “it means so much to me to still be here”. Yawn... Ashley thought last week's comments were harsh. She tried to go for a different sound and get ticks in the box.

Barrowman, who so far has failed to make a comment in triplicate, says some notes were cracked but Keisha has made an improvement, she told a story. [He also admires Keisha, telling her, "Your Nancy is blossoming." AHAHAHAHH! - Carrie] He noticed Ashley's Scottish accent and some flat notes. He tells her, “You've lost some fight. You've given up and you're cheesy when you do warm.” Ouch. But I'm smirking as I agree. DVO agrees Ashley was cheesy – she was brave but made some wrong choices. It was the best yet from Keisha, she connected with the words but needs to stop wobbling her head. The Dame says Keisha sang a great song of survival, her best yet. He can't tell if she's ensemble or solo. Probably because he was too busy staring at her cleavage. He likes Ashley's Caledonian gutsiness as she normally does nice/polite, like showing someone to the best table in a restaurant.

ALW says it was soft as an easy chair, but he's in an uneasy chair tonight. Ashley did her best so far but the Lord doesn't believe she can hold a West End audience. So why the fuck did he save her last week, then? [Because Francesca kept singing out of tune all the time? - Georgi] Keisha came through remarkably. If both get through to next week he'd love to work with them both as they are not quite connecting. [If he hadn't fucked off to America to work with the contestants on American Idol, he could have worked with them THIS week. - Carrie] It's down to the nitty gritty now.

Six Nancys down and it's time for the Olivers. Four have made it to the semi-finals so far, it's time to find the fifth. This week's task is physicality. Oliver has a fight in the orphanage and has to stand up to Bill Sikes. So, they're going to try stage fighting. There's lots of faked punches and faked ear-grabbing. Cameron Mackintosh wants Acting, it must be believable. Jonny is showing promise, while Gareth threw himself into it. But Alex is chosen next and gets his cap. He rates Samantha as Nancy and he thinks she has a fantastic voice. [And she is from the Isle of Man and he has some family there. Has he not been listening when they tell us that we're not supposed to vote based on where people are from? - Georgi] Whatever. Why should we care? [See above. - Carrie]

The Olivers then all sing 'It's a Hard Knock Life' from Annie. Jordan stands out most [with his utter desperation - Carrie], but it's still all very stage school.

Samantha and Jodie are up last. Samantha knows it's make or break for her and she wants to impress West End Leading Man John Barrowman. [Why? He doesn't get a vote. - Georgi] Donna the coach says Samantha was a revelation in rehearsal. Samantha now thinks she could get the part. Barrowman says Jodie is showing all the colours of Nancy. Jodie confesses she struggled in training with some of the notes. She's trying so hard, she really wants it (drink) and is prepared to use her ten years' advantage over the others.

Samantha sings 'Since U Been Gone'. It's a repeat of her earlier rock chick performance. She acts it OK. ALW is giving nothing away. Samantha is iffy on some notes [the low ones in particular - Carrie][i.e. everything except the chorus - Georgi]. Jodie does Whitney Houston's 'I Have Nothing'. ALW mutters to the camera. It's a good performance, measured and polished. AWL claps. Is this a Sign?

Cut to the panel. DVO says both have edge. Samantha had bags of Nancy attitude with a strong command of the stage. [Her "belt is big". Unlike her dress. Boom boom! - Georgi] She warns her not to get too shouty, but it was wonderful. She loved Jodie – it was the performance of the evening, she's a strong, brilliant actress. The Dame says Samantha was totally watchable – for the singing. Dirty git – she had a very short dress on. He wants to watch Jodie from the wings as she sings 'As Long As He Needs Me' and gets an ovation. Barrowman says Samantha was a superb, belting Nancy while Jodie was a fearless leading lady who is destined for the West End. [Why does he keep shouting? - Georgi]

ALW just says “Wow!” He gushes over Samantha and declares himself engaged by Jodie's performance. This is the essence of the competition. He has no idea who could be Nancy and is dreading a sing-off with these two as he'd have to resign (as if. To both ideas). [But wouldn't it be ace, though? Then Cameron Mackintosh can start to cast his own bloody show, the lazy git. - Carrie][Didn't he also threaten to leave the country in 1997 if Labour won the general election? He's still bloody here. - Georgi]

And that's it. There's a quick recap of the performances. Norton declares the phone lines open and it's all over. For now. Join Carrie for the results show tomorrow.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Not quite so Fran-tastic

So we're back for the results show. The band strike up 'Consider Yourself', and Norton wanders on in a pale blue suit and red satin shirt. It's not a triumph of fashion, but it's better than last night's rig-up. He warns us that it'll be an emotional half-hour, and then introduces the nine Nancys performing 'Consider Yourself', yet again, with a lot of red petticoat swishing, stomping, and shite Cockney accents.

Norton explains the concept of the programme again, yawn yawn, sing-off, ALW saving Keisha, final, blah. He then welcomes our panel again, yawn yawn, Barrowman, Van Outen, Humphries and live from Vegas Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, who does a bit of dancing.

Now, exclusive backstage footage combined with tedious filling recap! Jodie is excited because she got fantastic comments; clearly nothing exciting happened for Sam apart from being shouted at by Barrowman; Ashley was ripped to shreds by ALW; Niamh's fringe was happy that ALW was proud of it; the Olivers were appallingly stage-school but KWAYEDZA IS THROUGH!; Keisha sang higher than normal; Jessie sang out of the side of her mouth and bashed her knees together and really pissed me off; Sarah was awesome with her new hair, and did a little jig backstage; Fran's bosom was old-fashioned, according to ALW; Rachel couldn't pronounce 'beautiful' and ALW offered to give her an Andrew.

Norton talks to the girls. Ashley was hurt by ALW's comments and hopes to get him onside later. Sarah felt amazing and very lucky to have positive comments. Wow, insightful.

This week, they have performed in front of a Tough West End Audience at Wicked, where they meet up with Kerry Ellis, who gives them a leading lady pep-talk. Then they are shoved on stage after the matinee and forced to sing one of Ellis's big numbers. As they perform, Ellis is in the wings whispering and clapping quietly to herself. Random audience members admire Keisha, and Fran ("she was better this afternoon than she is on the live shows" - ouch), and Rachel, and Jodie (except for one cow woman who calls her 'cabaret girl'), oh, and everyone else too. They finish, and rush out, and squeal.

Norton throws over to ALW, who is now wearing sunglasses. He wrote a song for Elvis. "It was the last song he ever sang. That was the end of him!" he says. There is embarrassed, uncomfortable silence. Norton tells him that wasn't funny, and promptly introduces the girls singing Viva Las Vegas, in honour of the absent Lord. [Bah. I hoped they were going to sing something from Wicked. - Steve] They are wearing FOUL COSTUMES - sparkly tasseled dresses, and feather ruffs - and the choreography is shite beyond compare. Niamh's skirt seems to be shorter than everyone else's. But she does have really nice legs. ALW has been on our blog steeling mi jokez, and says, "Divas Las Vegas!" He praises Sarah. Barrowman praises Ashley - "I rate you as a performer, and if others don't, why did they put you in the final 12?" [Much as I hate to agree with the Barrowman, I was asking myself exactly how someone got through to the final 12 when Lord Webber didn't like their voice. Doesn't say much for the rest of the auditionees, does it? - Georgi] Barry liked Jessie and Sam. Van Outen says that Sam is "on fire".

Back to the Olivers, and Kwayedza. He is 13. He loves drawing and songwriting. He likes R&B and Motown and Beyonce. If he could win Oliver, he would be the happiest boy in the world. Aww. And then for the group number, he leads the rest of the boys in 'I'll Be There'. Joel, what do you think - racialist song choice? Anyway, Kwayedza is awesome. Well done him. [I think Motown Oliver is my new favourite. He has a voice that is actually soulful as opposed to little choirboy. - Georgi] [Heh, Didn't I say right from teh start that Kwayedze was like a young Michael Jackson? I still don't see him as an Oliver though - Louise]

Time for the panel to say who they want to get rid of. Barrowman says, "Keisha", and someone from the audience whoops, presumably in error. Van Outen says Keisha, Barry says Fran. Ooh, it's exciting!

Results, in no particular order. Rachel is crying already, but she could be Nancy. Sarah can still be Nancy, and looks bewildered. Samantha and Niamh could both still be Nancy - they hug and scream and rush off the stairs together. Keisha might be in the sing-off. Oooooooooh. Jodie can still be Nancy, and she thanks everyone in the world. Jessie could still be Nancy. Ashley, Keisha and Francesca all step down to the stage to form a line. Francesca is in the bottom two, and will sing off; Keisha could still be Nancy, and she goes insane!

So it's a Francesca/Ashley sing-off. They are the Least Popular Nancys, and if it were down to viewers' votes alone, the person who'd be leaving would be Ashley. They are going to sing 'Whistle Down The Wind'. Ashley looks pissed off and kind of resigned to her fate already. It's a terrible song, let's face it, but Ashley is singing it in a really weird, subdued way, and Fran is doing her old-fashioned musical theatre stagey acting. It's a tedious performance from both, but that's partly the song's fault, but I don't imagine ALW will point that out. He, meanwhile, has his head in his hands, possibly thinking, "I knew this was a shit song, but I didn't realise how shit it could sound."

ALW says both of them sang wonderfully and it was an extraordinary sing-off - and I am seriously beginning to doubt his hearing ability. He says that the panel obviously see something in Ashley that he doesn't, so he saves her, and Francesca is out. ALW is gutted, but he has taken into account what the panel have said, and she has a long professional career ahead of her. She cries. She says she will take all the advice into account [and learn to sing in tune? - Georgi], and then heads up to the stage to sing farewell in a hideous accent. Niamh is blubbing away, Sam and Jodie are both holding back tears, and Ashley is sobbing. This lot are nearly as bad as the Josephs. [Well, shit. I mean, I know I'm the only member of Team Francesca in the universe, but I had hoped she'd last a little longer than this. Then again, it was obvious she was never going to win, so at least now she's free to go and get a job that will be decided by a casting director rather than a public vote, and I will be free to fanboy her without fending off the internet haterz. - Steve]

Well, bitches, that was a turn-up for the books. Join us next week for more Olivers, more Nancys and of course much more Bitching!

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Divas Las Vegas

Week 4: tx 19th April 2008

Last week! The competition stepped up a gear! [Drink! - Georgi] Rachel could be Barrowman's Nancy, but he thought Keisha was like a cruise ship singer. Denise told Jessie she could win this competition. Fran cried. Tara sucked, but then went home. Who will we choose as our Nancy?

Here's Norton, in a green suit and yellow shirt. Ew. Tonight the search for Nancy and Oliver "goes global", because Lloyd Webber is in bloody Las Vegas. (Next week's American Idol will be ACE.) [Although it will be less ace now that Kristy Lee Cook's gone. What? I liked her. - Steve] Van Outen and Barrowman are in their little gang, and Barry Humphries is once again excluded.

The Nancys and Olivers are performing Consider Yourself. Sam is so pretty. Niamh's fringe looks weird. Jodie is bursting out of her top. Jessie's accent is shit. Norton waves a glittery rolling pin. Twat. Chester appears to have forgotten the words.

Norton explains the premise of the competition to us once again, and introduces our "expert" "panel". You know who they are. ALW gurns at us via satellite. He says he is excited because he is watching it on TV for the first time, "just like the viewers at home".

Last week, Jodie was awesome. She was pleased because she thinks ALW is starting to like her, and then she was even more pleased because she and her boyfriend got engaged! Whoop! Congratulations, Jodie! There was much girlie screaming amidst the Nancys as she flaunted her new rock on her left hand.

Barrowman wanted to take Sam and work with her. [Do you think he will Teach her his Craft? - Georgi] They are in some weird white room and practising emoting. Sam weeps. Barrowman is proud of her.

This week's theme, such as it is, is Divas. Wail. Jodie's singing '9 to 5'. She has an odd flouncy dress, which is tied too tight at the back. If you like pop songs sung in a musical theatre stylee, this is good, if a bit gaspy and breathy, and possibly a tad too fast, and with a really, really shitly arranged ending. ALW does token clapping, but looks reasonably happy. [I thought she sounded like she was concentrating too hard on getting all the words out, but I think she just about got away with it. - Georgi]

Sam is singing Christina Aguilera's 'Hurt', which, as the Strictly singers will tell you, is really difficult to sing. Barrowman looks emotionally invested and meaningful the whole way through the performance. [That's because he KNOWS HIS CRAFT, I bet. - Steve] She goes all musical theatre and does shouting in rhythm to convey Feelings, which I'm sure her new mentor will like. [So being more emotional means either speaking or shrieking instead of proper singing, then? I'd have thought you could be emotional and also sing, but then obviously I do not Know My Craft. - Georgi]

Norton congratulates Jodie and Steve. She tells us she doesn't know what to start planning first, but she is going to have her hen night in Blackpool. Norton says, "Hmm, count me out." YOU WEREN'T INVITED. A picture of Sam as a child. Blah. Barrowman says Jodie is showing us all the colours of Nancy, then tells Sam that she was emotionally fantastic, fantastic, FANTASTIC. [Fuck off, fuck off, fuck off, Barrowman. - Georgi] Denise is crying, by the way. Barry admires Jodie and her avoidance of karaoke, and says that it was Sam's best performance so far. She dimples. Denise says, "It's all good." She tells Jodie that her diction was perfect, and Sam that her work with Barrowman paid off. ALW says that Jodie could get married in Vegas by Elvis. Yeah, but she's not in bloody Vegas, is she? He witters about them being contrasting Nancys, and says, "Sammy, I always knew you had it in you. Unlike some." Heh.

Falkirk's Ashley, Bangor's Niamh, but remember that you shouldn't vote for them based on where they're from. Ashley was upset when ALW said that we might get bored with her voice. She wheels out a nan again. Niamh lost confidence in herself last week [told you she was emo - Georgi], and is still shocked that ALW knows her name, let alone gives comments on her performance. She is visited by her sister Ciara, and there is much sororal bonding, as Niamh says she is dedicating tonight's performance to her.

Ashley is singing 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody'. There is something about her that really reminds me of Jan Ravens. It might be the fake voice she's putting on in an effort not to bore us. She also picks some random new notes to sing instead of the tune, which is certainly innovative. Key change! [Drink! - Georgi]

Niamh's song for her sister is 'The Wind Beneath My Wings'. Ciara is crying. It's all right, I guess. Her dress is pink and sparkleeeeeeee yaaaaaaaay! [I am starting to like Niamh, especially now that her fringe has grown in a bit, but I still wish she'd give everything a bit more oomph. - Steve]

Norton talks to them about how far away from home they are, and Ashley talks about SCOTLAND and TARTAN, and Niamh thanks everyone AT HOME IN IRELAND for their support. Denise thinks they are both possible leading ladies; she mentions "some possible pitch problems" for Ashley. SHE SANG THE WRONG NOTES. She says that Niamh gave a wonderful performance. Barry warmed to Ashley last week, and continues to do so; he thinks Niamh is exquisite and has a wonderful candour in her performance. He says that she would redefine the role of Nancy and he would be happy to take a curtain call with her. [Actually he told her she *has* redefined the role of Nancy, which is a bit much, frankly. - Georgi] Barrowman tells Ashley she needs to work on her leading lady look. OUCH. He tells Niamh to have more confidence in herself. ALW jabbers about Irish eyes and an Irish smile, because Niamh is FROM IRELAND. He then slices Ashley to pieces, concluding, "I don't rate your voice. Sorry."

The Olivers had their bravery tested this week. What. The. Fuck? ALW tells us that Oliver was brave to walk from the Midlands to London, so the best way to test whether these boys could act that kind of bravery is to make them abseil down a 100-foot wall. I look forward to the week when they're starved for a few days, as Oliver was incarcerated in a workhouse and fed on gruel, and the week where they hone their criminal skills by shoplifting from the local Tesco, as Oliver was forced to act as a villain's accomplice in various acts of house-breaking. [And the week where they kill all their parents, because Oliver was an orphan. - Steve] Lots of pre-pubescent excitement. Gwion is wearing a WELSH RUGBY JERSEY and complains, "I've got a wedgie! A big one!" Then they go to the rehearsal studio to work with Claire, the Lord and the Sir. And the next Oliver through is KWAYEDZA! HOORAY! Your Bitching team is VERY HAPPY! [Someone is listening after all.... - Georgi] He thinks that Sarah would be the most fun to work with, but of course he likes all of them. The Olivers then sing 'I Whistle A Happy Tune' from The King And I. Sam still scares me a bit.

Back to the ladies. Keisha has been saved twice by ALW, once entirely unjustifiably. However, she has given me one of the highlights of the televisual year with her "OMGZ I AM SOOOO HUMBLE, thank you for saving me...oh fuck, no, I'm in the bottom two again" face last week. She's singing 'My Heart Will Go On', in a key about a tone and a half higher than Celine Dion's version, so perhaps someone somewhere has finally realised that they keep giving her songs that are too low. However, her higher notes are very shaky indeed. Key change! [Drink! - Georgi] Why is she shouting at me? It is like watching the bloody X-Factor.

Norton says that Keisha has had a difficult journey. Drink! She says it has been an emotional and tough week for her. Fuck off. [And stop crying all the time! - Georgi] She does more humble speaking about fighting and working hard "if I'm here next week". Denise was concerned about Keisha's Nancy qualities last week, and still is, saying that she doesn't connect with the words. Keisha asks her what she would like her to do. Denise doesn't actually know, and mumbles something about hoping the viewers save her. Barrowman disagrees. Barry says it was a warm and powerful performance, and that she delivered the song, and lived the song. Keisha cries. ALW stands by his decision last week, and is very proud of her. He understands what Denise is talking about, but Oliver! is not his musical or his production, so he has to think about what Cameron Mackintosh would want. Well, fuck off, then, and let Cameron Mackintosh have the casting vote.

Next, County Kerry's Jessie, and Cardiff's Sarah. Last week, Jessie was poor, but the judges loved her. Everyone in her town is supporting her, including her sisters, who are colouring in posters and taking the piss out of her shit Cockney accent a bit. Barrowman challenged Sarah to dye her hair, and so she has done, with lots of honey-coloured highlights. Exciting week for her, then. [It doesn't quite have the same level of drama as makeover week on America's Next Top Model, does it? - Steve]

Jessie is singing 'Why Do Fools Fall In Love', and has some really excellent silver shoes. She is singing out of the side of her mouth and swinging her arms and strutting in a knock-kneed fashion. Sorry, judging panel - haaaaaaaaaaaate. [Jessie is getting on my tits more and more every week. Vote her off! - Georgi]

Sarah and her new hair are singing 'Midnight Train to Georgia', and are doing some excellent Acting, as well as singing incredibly powerfully. Incidentally, this week she's wearing a black dress with green accessories [because black is for Serious Acting - Georgi]. She has nice shoes as well.

Norton talks to Jessie and her Eighties hair about her family, and asks how she would cope with living away for them so long. Jessie treats it like a job interview and gives a hugely diplomatic answer, which stresses how keen she is on the role but also how much she loves her family. Barrowman is pleased with Sarah and says she is a threat in the competition, and then interestingly is RIGHT when criticising Jessie's movement. Denise says she thinks her comment in Week 1 about Jessie's posture made her self-conscious, and that Sarah's singing made the hairs on her arms stand on end. Barry says that he loves Jessie's crooked smile and coltish movements, and that if he was watching Sarah in the West End he would give her a standing ovation. So to speak. ALW says he would like to work with Jessie and Sarah when he gets home, and may get his hair dyed before the results show. I think that was supposed to be a joke. [But srsly now, could the panel please FUCK OFF with all their comments about how dying her hair has made any bloody difference to Sarah? It was bollocks when John said she ought to dye it last week, and it's bollocks this week when they're saying it made any difference. 1) she was great anyway, and b) she's still just as bubbly and cheerful-looking as she was before. - Georgi]

Francesca finds stepping on stage nerve-wracking [You've been in London's Trendy West End with Denise van Outen! Pull it together! - Georgi], and ALW's comments made her cry last week, so this week she has practised a lot. Which is a good idea, I'd say. Claire Moore tells her that the only problem is when she gets on stage and the nerves kick in, because she's ace in rehearsal. Barrowman reminded Rachel that it's a competition and she shouldn't try and tone down and fit in, despite her plaintive pleas about being "a team player", because she needs to stand out. She says she'll fight for her place. [Like Nancy! Who is a Fighter! - Georgi]

Fran's breasts look amazing again, so well done to them. [Best supported actress, arf arf. You could kind of see her nipples this week, too. - Steve] She's singing 'What's Love Got To Do With It', and has too much blusher on. She begins by sitting down and doing musical theatre Acting, then gets distracted going into the chorus by the bounciness of her hair, which she has to flick out of her face.

Rachel is singing 'The Way We Were', and she too begins by sitting down and doing subtle wistful musical theatre Acting. Her dress is so long it drags along the floor when she begins to walk, and she looks a bit like a yellow-clad ghost hovering on the stage. She pronounces 'beautiful' in a really weird way.

Norton asks Fran about the nerves, and she says she enjoyed it. Rachel says that she doesn't feel secure in the competition despite her consistent comments. Barrowman tells Fran he loves watching her and that her performance was "pretty dang good", and then tells Rachel that Barbra Streisand's version of 'The Way We Were' is no longer in our heads because hers has replaced it. A clue, Barrowman: FUCK NO. [Although I was much amused by the Barrowman telling her it was the best performance of the night, as the camera cut to Jessie looking very pissed off. Hee! - Georgi] Barry tells Fran that she is too glamorous. Denise carps about it, and says it was a strong, edgy performance. She then tells Rachel that she was amazing. ALW says Fran's performance was good, but a little musical theatre-stagey in a old-fashioned way, whatever that may mean. He thought Rachel was fantastic, singing a song that "won an Oscar 34 years ago. If I was there, I'd give you an Andrew." Ew. Ew. EW! Norton is clearly thinking the same thing as I am, and sniggers.

Recap: Jodie was engaged; Sam was Barrowman's protege; Ashley was unrated by ALW; Niamh loves her sister; Keisha was Titanic; Jessie sang out of the corner of her mouth; Sarah had new hair; Fran was musical theatre-stagey in an old-fashioned way; Rachel was propositioned by a peer of the realm.

That's your lot for tonight, bitches. Join me again tomorrow to find out who'll be singing off!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Tara, chuck

Results show: Week Three

Entering to the strains of 'Consider Yourself', Graham's changed his suit from "yesterday", though it's now a scarlet suit with red piping with a purple shirt, which isn't that much of an improvement, but all change is good, as the checkout operator at Tesco once told me. Graham reminds us that in half an hour's time one girl will be considering herself unequivocally at home when she leaves the competition, and that's the cue for the remaining Nancys to introduce themselves with a reprise of 'It's A Fine Life'. Tara is at the front of the gaggle for the most part, possibly because she's doomed so they might as well give her what she wants while there's still time to do it. Francesca's bosom is still as impressive as it was during the main show. And that's all there is to say, really. [Again, HATE the group sings.-Joel]

Graham finds about six ways to tell us that nobody wants to go home, which I'm fairly certain we could have figured out without any help, before telling us that we'll be seeing more of the Olivers later, as well as seeing the Nancys' latest challenge, which appears to involve snogging Ben James-Ellis, of Any Dream Will Do and Hairspray fame. Definitely an upgrade from Barrowman, I'd say. And "reviewing the Nancy situation" (you used that joke "last night", Graham) are the panel: John Barrowman, Denise Van Outen, Barry Humphries, and the Lord.

Time for a visual recap with Extra! Backstage! Footage!: Rachel did her best with a song which is neither a particularly brilliant vocal showcase nor an actual song from a musical, and got great reviews from the panel. Sarah knocked 'Maybe This Time' out of the park, but was criticised as being "Country Life Nancy" by Denise. (And it's a shame Dianne Pilkington has just extended her contract because although Sarah's probably not going to be Nancy, I think she'd make a fantastic Glinda. Still, maybe next time, eh?) John told her to dye her hair for next week because he thinks the blonde is confusing Denise and Barry. Francesca was kind of off-key during '(I've Had) The Time Of My Life', as much as it pains me as a paid-up member of Team Francesca to admit that, though Denise thought her rawness was very Nancy-like. The Lord fretted over her pitch, though. Backstage, a slightly tearful Francesca says that she's going to work on that, but she's not really sure how. Why, with vocal coach Zoe Tyler, surely? Oh, my mistake: they didn't bother to put a vocal coach on the judging panel this year, thinking it'd be better to run with Denise, who served her purpose far better as a human hormone on Any Dream Will Do, and Barry who never says much of anything and gives me the heebie-jeebies. [And Barrowman, whom I believe - I BELIEVE - has worked in the West End. - Carrie] [In all fairness, I give Barrowman a pass because he's been on the panel since How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? He's got tenure. - Steve] Keisha's 'The Lady is a Tramp' was not enjoyed much by John or Denise, but Andrew found it charming in an "of the period" way. The Olivers, led by Arthur, sang 'Teamwork' from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Ashley sang 'The Winner Takes It All' and the Lord worried her voice would become boring. Jodie owned everyone in sight with a superlative rendition of 'Send in the Clowns' while perched precariously on a stool. Backstage, a gleeful Jodie confesses, "I'm speechless! And that's saying a lot!" Heh. You can't say she isn't self-aware, can you? Niamh and her fringe sang 'Moon River', a song which has officially lost all meaning to me, but might redefine the role of Nancy with her fragility, if Barrowman is to be believed. Pirate Jessie butchered 'One Night Only' from Dreamgirls, but the panel's collective woody for her continued unabated. Backstage, Jessie says "I feel like the luckiest girl in the actual world, I actually do." Oh, go actually away, Jessie. The Jolly Roger won't actually hoist itself, you actually know. Poor Tara continued to be utterly out of her depth throughout 'Let's Hear It For The Boy' and was called on it by the panel, and Samantha's 'Somewhere' felt like faked emotion to Denise, but was liked by Barry and The Lord.

Graham's sitting with Andrew and the Nancys. Graham reminds us that this year it is not just a singing competition because whoever gets the role really needs to be able to act. Yes, that's why it's called musical theatre, you clod. Although I might as well laugh at the retrospective burn on Connie Fisher and Lee Mead, I suppose. Andrew says that the second act is particularly tough, adding to the girls, "I think you've read it now". Well, one would hope. Ideally they would have read it before auditioning, but what do I know? [My eyebrows practically communed with the ceiling at this point. I would have expected teh Nancys not only to have read the script before auditioning but also the original Dickens novel. Just as a bit of background research, yanno. Otherwise they might as well be applying for the X Factor... - Louise] Graham asks the girls how much pressure they feel on their missions, and Jodie says that they always feel pressure, because they're aware that anything could be taken into account should they land in the sing-off. Ashley agrees and says that they've all tried to rise to the challenges. Graham tells us that Nancy is an outgoing character, so they called on former Joseph Ben James-Ellis to help the girls lose their ambitions.

They'll be performing Hairspray's love scene with Ben, but not before we see footage of Ben being a bit rubbish on Any Dream Will Do last year. (Although I will concede he's great in Hairspray.) The girls meet Olivier Award winner Leanne Jones, who plays Tracy Turnblad, for advice. Leanne says that it's very important for a leading lady to be versatile and able to do whatever the director needs them to do, including kissing someone they've only just met, however weird that might be. The girls get practising: Ashley kisses her own hand and Keisha worries about her onion breath. Heh. The Disembodied Voice of Graham informs us that there's a twist waiting in the wings - their dads will be watching them do the scene. Oh, snap. Although I'm not quite sure this is as bad as when they made the Josephs strip down to their loincloths in front of their mums. Or when they made the Marias make out with Barrowman, full stop. Samantha's dad Richard says that there comes a day where every dad has to watch their actress daughter do a kissing scene, although surely that only applies to the dads who actually have actress daughters? I mean, mine doesn't, so he got away with it. He did have an aspiring actor son at one point, and therefore had to watch me simulate sex with a dude in a scene from The Rocky Horror Show, but I digress. [I'm pretty sure my father never saw my début on-stage kiss at 14, when I played Widow Corney in a school production of Oliver! and had to snog Mr Bumble. And it was an all-girls school. But I digress, too. - Louise]

Prince's 'Kiss' kicks up on the soundtrack as Sarah says that the kissing doesn't sound so bad. She does well in her scene with Ben, though we don't see the kiss itself. Actual Pirate Jessie fucks up her lines, which does not go unnoticed by Ben. Take that, Chosen One! Niamh's dad Liam looks away for her kiss, and Ben says that Keisha was "seamless". Keisha very sensibly interviews that as an actor you've just got to be able to do it, pressure or not pressure [indeed, but you still need to convince the nation you are Nancy, love - Louise]. Ben says that Samantha's effort "felt real", which means she totally slipped him the tongue. "And cut!" says Samantha's dad Richard. Francesca's love scene looks good (she's probably relieved to be doing a love scene with someone who isn't Denise, I should think), and the soundtrack changes to Nelly Furtado's 'Maneater' for Jodie's typically OTT kiss. Hee. Leanne says that she's scared, because that was really good. Ashley also tries to devour Ben whole, but he says that he thought she did really well because she was in character from the moment she walked on. Rachel was also in character the whole time, says Ben. With one girl left, Ben admits he's terrified of kissing Tara in front of her dad who, lest we forget, is a professional wrestler. Wild West showdown music plays and the whole thing goes sepia for a second. Tara kisses Ben, El Bandito mimes breaking his neck, Ben wigs and Tara laughs. Backstage, she says "note to self: don't kiss boys in front of Dad." Hee. She seems like such a nice girl; it's a shame she can't sing. Ben's favourite kissers were Jodie, Keisha and Tara, who "left their own issues at the door". He declares it "not a bad day in the office".

Back in the studio, Graham segues to the Nancys performing 'Good Morning Baltimore' from Hairspray, with some horrendous choreography that makes Actual Pirate Jessie look even more ridiculous than usual. There's a bit in the second half of the first verse where one of the girls totally fucks up and starts doing the "I promise Baltimore" line instead of another "Good morning Baltimore", but I can't tell who it is. The performances are uniformly acceptable, but unsurprisingly, only Jodie actually makes any effort to play it as Tracy Turnblad. Graham asks Andrew for his feedback, and he singles out Samantha as being "absolutely wonderful", and said that Jodie really stood out. John thought Samantha was the best too. Barry liked Actual Pirate Jessie and Niamh. Denise thought Niamh was outstanding (indeed, she was, but she had the perhaps unfair advantage of getting to do the giant glory note in the "won't someone invite me before I drop dead?" line) and that Sarah was sassy. My God, John praised Samantha and Denise praised Sarah? It's like Opposite Day!

Graham reminds us that three Olivers are also being cast, as though anyone really cares, and we get a clip of Arthur making it through to the semi-finals from "yesterday"'s show. Backstage Arthur says he felt amazing when the crowd was cheering for him. We get a VT of Arthur's home life, and he tells us about how he enjoys martial arts, playing the saxophone, and fashion [and has a Scissor Sisters song playing as his backing track - Carrie]. Do I even need to make the joke? I thought not. He loves skinny jeans and purple. Oh God, I just can't. For the High School Musical fans amongst you, he is also Wearing a Hat, which should tell you everything you need to know. Arthur says that to win would be amazing. Indeed, you might even say it would be fabulous.

And now the Olivers are performing 'A Whole New World' from Aladdin, though of course the Katie Price/Peter Andre version will remain the definitive rendition. Gwion and Chester, as the other semi-finalists, also get solo lines, and I still think Chester is the absolute shiznit. If he makes the three who get into the show proper, I will so be going to see it, regardless of who gets to be Nancy. Is that wrong? [No, sweetie, but I'm not sure you'll be able to pick and choose which Oliver you get to see, unfortunately. Although we can try. - Carrie]

Graham tells us that we'll find out the next Oliver to go through next week, but first we must find out which Nancy is leaving us tonight. He goes to the panel for their opinions, and John names Tara, citing her lack of stamina and vocal ability to do eight shows a week. He is booed. Denise names Keisha for not acting or connecting with her song. Barry names Tara, because her work is "too modern". Hee! I don't know why that made me laugh, but it really did.

It's time for Graham to announce the results in no particular order. Keisha's name is read out first and she is in the sing-off. As Chris texted me to point out, her reaction is amazing: she starts to do the stagey open-mouthed "oh, I'm so relieved to be safe!" reaction for a second or two before it kicks in that she's not safe and she quickly puts her lips back together and puffs loudly. I hope someone puts that on YouTube, for it is to be treasured. [It was BRILLIANT. I almost felt bad for her, but then I decided to laugh instead. - Carrie] [Ha! That was a priceless moment. The shock on her face when she twigged that she was dangling on ALW's whim AGAIN was a TV classic. How I laughed - Louise] [Is this where I say RACIST BRITISH PUBLIC? Yes?-Joel]Keisha hangs her head and walks to the front of the stage as a deathly hush falls upon the studio: there's no murmur of surprise, no booing, no nothing. It's very unsettling, actually. Samantha could still be Nancy. So could Sarah and Jodie. Francesca is also safe and looks relieved/surprised. Rachel and Actual Pirate Jessie could still be Nancy too, as could Niamh, which leaves Ashley and Tara standing on the stairs. Graham invites them to step down, and reveals that Tara is in the bottom two, while Ashley could still be Nancy and is safe.

Graham informs us that if it were down to viewer votes alone, Keisha would be the one to leave. There are murmurs of discontent from the audience this time, and Keisha shrugs, while Graham reminds her that there is hope because The Lord might yet save her. Keisha and Tara will be singing 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow', and it's really weird to hear the original Judy Garland version rather than the Eva Cassidy or Israel Kamakawiwo'ole versions in this day and age that it almost sounds completely wrong. Keisha's first notes are a little scratchy, while Tara actually sounds good [except she has this weird startled expression on her face throughout the entire song, as if someone just jabbed her in the arse with a very large pin - Louise]. To be honest, if I were Tara, I'd spend more time practising the sing-off song than the main performance song too. Might as well play the odds, right? Actually, they both wind up sounding pretty good; infinitely better than the hot mess that Keisha and Cleo made of 'I Know Him So Well' last week.

Graham punts the decision over to Andrew. Andrew says that once again it's a very difficult decision, as usual, but he's got to think about the eight shows a week aspect and the connection to the song, so he saves Keisha. Keisha shakes it all out, and Tara takes it on the chin. Andrew calls her "the lovely, cheeky, poppy Tara", which I'm sure counts as a diss from musical theatre folk, and says that he agrees with the panel over the question over her ability to do eight shows a week at this stage [wait - they need to do EIGHT SHOWS A WEEK? Why has nobody mentioned this? - Carrie], and it wouldn't be fair on her, but wishes her the best of luck. [Notably, he doesn't mention anything about him being sure she'll have a huge career somewhere else in musical theatre, as he usually does to people with singing ability. - Carrie]

Tara tells Graham that the other girls are all fantastic and says that she's had an amazing experience. She thanks everyone who voted for her and says something in Welsh [because she is WELSH and from WALES - Carrie] before wishing luck to all the remaining girls. And with that it's time for the signature 'Be Back Soon'/'As Long As He Needs Me' send-off. Tara's take on the song is contained very much in her eyebrows, and Keisha (apparently the Helena/Lewis figure of this show now) strips Tara of her locket. Tara takes to the steps and proceeds to finish the song in a Cockney accent even more ill-advised than Actual Pirate Jessie's, but she just about hits all the right notes for the first and last time on the show, and I'm glad she got to do that at least once. Hawddamor, Tara!

Saturday, 12 April 2008

It's a Nancy Liveblog!

Third live show: 12th April 2008

Good evening, all, and welcome to our first IBA liveblog! Carrie and Georgi are here to narrate the unfolding drama, confused Barrowman metaphors, Lord Lloyd Webber's gurning and of course Graham Norton's innuendoes. Snarf.

Last week! Some took centre stage (Jessie, for example), some were shit according to Van Outen and Barrowman (Samantha, for example) and blah. This week, lots of very exciting things will happen. Apparently. Keisha wants to be Nancy. Shocker. This is I'd Do Anything!


Here's Graham Norton, in a jade green suit with dark green piping and maroon silk shirt. It is not a good look. Barrowman and Van Outen are in their little gang; Barry Humphries judges them unfavourably; Andrew Lloyd Webber is quivering with excitement. Ew.

The Nancys sing It's A Fine Life. Niamh decides not to start on the right note; Sarah has developed long hair and looks good with it; Samantha manages to get a random audience member in the shot while she's singing; Francesca's bosom appears to have increased exponentially since last week. There is much skirt-swishing and stamping - and a key change! On the line about "tea-sipping and crumpets", the shot switches to Norton dipping a crumpet into a cup of tea. Fuck's sake. Apart from that, well done all! [I hate the group sings so much. Possibly because I hate every song from Oliver! except 'As Long As He Needs Me', which I love as much as I hate the rest of them.-Joel]

Tara's supporters have crayon drawings of her on their posters. What. The. Fuck?

Anyway, back over to Norton. He explains the concept of the show yet again, and mentions that the girls went to a film première this week, and the boys went to meet Robbie Keane of Tottenham and Ireland. I am not sure why.

He introduces us to our 'expert panel'. You know who they are. Van Outen has a nice dress. Barry Humphries has another classic suit [and still looks like a dodgy old perve with a Javier Bardem psycho killer haircut - Louise]. He is allowed to join in the 'we're not worthy' thing to Lloyd Webber again. [This week, with added jazz hands - Georgi] Lloyd Webber is angry about last week's result, as are we, but for different reasons. He reminds us to vote for people who can PLAY THE PART, not according to whether or not they are from Wales or Ireland.

So that makes Norton's next autocue line even more risible - "Belfast's Rachel!" Rachel has gone to meet the cast of Jersey Boys this week. Switch to Sarah, who has gone to see burlesque performer Immodesty Blaize this week to get her inner sex kitten unleashed. She is hoping to be more "mischievous, saucy Nancy" this week.

Hooray! This week they are singing SONGS FROM MUSICALS [and/or films - Georgi]. If anyone sings anything by Queen or Abba, I will cut a bitch. Andrew Lloyd Webber uses the word "Nancified". Ha.

Rachel is singing 'Oh What A Night' from the West End show Jersey Boys - NOT A MUSICAL. She has Boys dancing with her, which is nice, but her dress is not; it appears to have some form of hood growing from the waist. She forgets to sing a couple of words leading into the bridge, but nobody seems to care. She does a bit of dancing. It's OK. Then she does some scampering. Andrew Lloyd Webber seems to be trying to clap along.

Sarah is singing 'Maybe This Time' from Cabaret, which is one of my favourite songs EVER (this is Carrie typing). Her dress isn't doing her any favours; it is knee-length with some form of upholstery tassel trimming, and should either be lower cut or shorter. And more green, as she is supposed to be dressed in green, and this is a sort of pistachio colour. Her earrings are green, though. She too has some Boys, who are doing excellent Acting with her. It's a good performance, and she looks like she's about to cry at the end.

Norton talks to them and asks if the atmosphere has changed in the house. Rachel says it has. Then they wheel out some footage of Sarah aged 9 dancing in some sort of competition. LULZ. Denise says that she thinks they have the right leading lady qualities; Rachel delivers a show and is secure in herself; Sarah gave it to her (ooer) and gave a different performance from last week, but she still worries that she is more Country Life Nancy than East End Nancy. [Where does West End Nancy fall into that scale, I wonder? - Steve] Barry Humphries reminsces about playing Fagin, because HE HAS PLAYED FAGIN. He likens Rachel to Georgia Brown, the original Nancy, and says that Sarah's voice is like Nancy but doesn't look like her. Barrowman says Rachel could be Nancy, and he doesn't know what the others are talking about when they're talking about Sarah. Denise Van Outen tries to argue, and she and Barrowman bicker. [What is this, Strictly Come Dancing? - Georgi] When he gets to finish his comment, he suggests that Sarah dye her hair for next week, so the others don't just look at her blondeness. [Yes, because Denise Van Outen would judge people on being blonde... - Georgi] Lloyd Webber concurs with Barrowman, who looks smug and vindicated.

Next up, two Nancys who have both been in the sing-off - Francesca and Keisha. Francesca's parents were nervous for her, and glad that she wasn't in the sing-off for a second time last week. She is reminding us that she is from Swansea, which is in Wales, and hasn't just been an actress, but has also done other jobs. Keisha was terrible last week and deserved to get voted off, but for some reason ALW kept her in. She is "so grateful" and might actually make an effort this week. She has been "getting into the zone", and is "still a contender", apparently.

Francesca is first, singing 'Time of my Life' from Dirty Dancing, although it is a duet, so what's that about? Also, why doesn't she have a pink Baby dress? Although her black and white dress is quite nice. [On second viewing, there is a pale pink background on her dress. Very pale, though. - Carrie] Everyone has Boys to dance with this week. Her vocal is a bit weak in places. Keisha is singing 'The Lady is a Tramp', which is a classic, but too low for her. Perhaps they're trying to get rid of her again. It's definitely an improvement on last week, though. She's still like a children's TV presenter, however. [She's worse than that, she was way too much B&W Minstrels for my liking - Louise] [She's stunningly attractive, and has a great voice, but sing something sad and low-key already, missy.-Joel]

Francesca says it's horrific the week after being in the sing-off, and she has tried to support Keisha through it this week [did anyone else notice she called Keisha "Katie"? hee! - Louise]. Keisha reveals that she has about a million names [including Katie? - Louise]. Denise says that Francesca has the "rawness and roughness" that is right for the role. [But then, she has snogged her, so she may be biased. - Carrie] She doesn't see Keisha as a victim of Bill Sikes, though. Barry liked Francesca but would like "more raw emotion" because she has to "take the audience on a journey" - drink! He doesn't seem sure that Keisha can cope under pressure though. The Barrowman says Francesca was "superb, superb, superb". Fuck's sake, stop repeating yourself. [I throw a cushion at the telly. - Carrie] He thought Keisha performed like she was "on a cruise ship". Ha ha. Mr Webber says that he gets nervous when he watches Francesca because he worries about her pitching. He doesn't seem to understand the "I'm broke, it's oke" lyrics from 'Lady is a Tramp', but thinks it was unfair to criticise her for performing it in a period style.

Now it is time to "review the Oliver situation". AHAHAHA. The boys have gone to Tottenham to learn teamwork and stamina. Lord LW isn't happy because he supports Leyton Orient. Robbie Keane talks to the boys about doing something he loves doing, and encourages them to give 110%. Drink! Joe Lyons, the Spurs U11 coach, gives them little motivation chats about the importance of teamwork and doing the can-can. Srsly. Andrew and Cameron go to watch the boys play. How on EARTH can they judge how good an Oliver will be based on his footballing skills? Cameron asks them what they have learned about teamwork and stamina. They regurgitate their answers like good little parrots. Arthur is selected as the third Oliver through to the semi-final. Not entirely sure which one he is. He says he would like Samantha to be Nancy. Everyone whoops. Aw. [I am still Team Kwayedza. - Georgi] [I'm liking Team Harry - Louise] [Team Kwayedza! AKA Team The Only One I Don't Want To Punch In The Throat!-Joel]

The boys then sing 'Teamwork' from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Oh, clever! I (Carrie) don't really like any of the other potential Olivers (the ones that haven't gone through, obv) apart from Kwayedza. What does anyone else think? Norton speaks to ALW, who says they'd have done better if they'd gone to Leyton Orient to train. [I nearly hurled at the sight of ALW in a coral footie shirt. What's that all about? Ick! - Louise]

Remember what ALW said about not voting for people based on where they're from? Well, next up are "Falkirk's Ashley and Blackpool's Jodie". Ashley is singing a song from the musical Mamma Mia, which is NOT A MUSICAL, and she goes to see the show's leading lady and musical director. Jodie appreciates that she has to leave Blackpool to be successful. She has a serious song to sing this week, so she will tone down (and she sings this bit with ironic vibrato) "the cabareeeeeeeeeeeet!". Georgi quite rightly points out that Nancy is a little bit cabaret, seeing as she storms into rooms and encourages everyone to sing along with her while still admiring her performance.

Ashley is singing 'The Winner Takes It All', which is not from a musical. She does some Timid and Brokenhearted Acting, while wearing a lovely purple dress. She clutches her head when she sings "minds as cold as ice". Jodie is singing 'Send In The Clowns', which is fairly low down on the list of songs I'd expect her to sing, but she has her musical theatre voice in today and it's really, really, really good. Actually it's a weird song to vocally showcase anyone, seeing as any musicals anorak will tell you it was written by Stephen Sondheim for the non-singer Glynis Johns, and hence there are no sustained notes at the end of phrases, but it is an excellent Serious and Acting showcase, and she is fantastic. If Barrowman doesn't give her three repeated adjectives, I will set fire to him. [This was amazing. Jodie acted, rather than ACTED, and made her voice sound entirely different - like a sad middle-aged lady. Just awesome. Jodie for Nancy pliz.-Joel]

Norton asks them about practical jokes in the house. Jodie gave Ashley a fake scratchcard. HAHAHA. [Do you think she would quit this humiliating spectacle if she had actually won £25,000? - Georgi] Barrowman thought they were both spectacular [spectacular, spectacular! surely? - Georgi] performances, and Jodie has made him speechless. HOORAY! Barry Humphries thinks Ashley is now a "definite contender", and that Jodie is normally like a "beautiful barmaid...make mine a large one, please, Jodie". Hee! [Filth! - Georgi] [presumably because he hasn't (got a large one) - Louise] But now she has the poignancy Nancy needs. Denise agrees; she saw the heart of Nancy in Ashley, and Jodie toned down the cabaret to give a West End-Broadway leading lady performance. ALW thinks Ashley is extremely talented, but is worried we might get bored with her voice. Booooooooo! [He's right - I don't think she's interesting enough - Louise] He chose Jodie's song very deliberately, and is happy because she made it her own. Drink!

Our next two potential are "both young, from Ireland and desperate" - Niamh and Jessie. Niamh is homesick. Carrie is concerned that Zaron (Niamh's mum) is not a name, and I tend to agree. [Possibly if it's short for Zac Efron. - Steve] Niamh is impressed with herself about how well she is coping away from home. Jessie is Andrew's favourite, but Denise was disappointed with her acting last week - Jessie thinks it was because she isn't Cockney. She has been sent for vocal coaching this week [and I was not impressed. Her "bootifuls" were too Bernard Matthews and she sounded like she had a mouthful of marbles - Louise]. She feels that she is getting closer to her dream.

Emo Niamh is first, singing 'Moon River', and has hair like Audrey Hepburn. It's a shame she can't hit the notes. Her dress is pretty, too. She's still just not Nancy in my book. Jessie is singing 'One Night Only' from Dreamgirls, and there are boys in sparkly shirts behind her - so get ready to gay it up. Her dress looks like a nightie, and the choreography is, frankly, a bit racy for a Saturday night family show. [And the singing was unsuitable for anything, anywhere. Utterly dreadful. And stop swinging your arm, woman. Nancy is not a pirate. - Steve]

Graham points out that both of them are very young... oh, good, it's just some photos of them playing instruments when they were younger. I was worried there would be more home videos. Denise thinks that Niamh was "fragile" and beautiful, and Jessie was great. Jessie looks surprised, mainly because she wasn't as fabulous as she could have been. Barrowman says that Niamh could "redefine the role of Nancy", and Jessie was "flawless", which: no. Barry thought that Niamh "made that song, which has an incomprehensible lyric, make sense", but she needs to be tougher. He thought Jessie had a "bruised quality". ALW says it was a good night for the Irish. He thinks Niamh looks like a young Audrey Hepburn, and goes on to explain what "huckleberry friend" means. Meanwhile, Jessie: "Eight shows a week only." For she is the CHOSEN ONE.

Last week, Tara was sad because Van Outen spoke the truth and said she wouldn't be Nancy. She weeps and has a crisis of confidence, but then she is made better by a video message from her friends and family. IN CARDIFF. [At the Millennium Stadium. Which is IN CARDIFF. In WALES! - Georgi] Samantha was sad because Barrowman said she had cold, dead eyes and was not Nancy. The girls all went to a film première this week and saw George Clooney. "That is George Clooney. Right there," says Sam, pointing at him. Renée Zellweger walks past, looking far too thin. [And sucking a lemon, as usual. - Steve]

Tara is singing 'Let's Hear It For The Boy' from Footloose. She's really not very good, is she? Her dress is made of a billion ruffles. And obviously she has many Boys for this. Georgi suggests that Tara could be in Footloose the Musical and play Sarah Jessica Parker's role of Rusty [Let's face it, Soap Nancy Tara is shite and should stick to Pobol y Cwm. - Louise]. Samantha is singing 'Somewhere' from West Side Story. Her dress is lovely, all blue and chiffony. She doesn't sound very secure on her top notes; either that or the band are too loud. She does Acting and misses lots of notes [and gets the lyrics a bit wrong - Georgi]. Then at the big ending, she belts it and only manages to go in tune when she adds vibrato, which is one of my pet musical theatre hates. [WSS is my favourite musical of all time, evah! And she ruined a great song. She is NOT Nancy - Louise]

Norton talks to them about how nice George Clooney is, and shows an amusing photo of Clooney pulling a funny face while posing with the girls. HAHAHA. Barrowman says Tara's voice wasn't good enough and Sam was too nervous and fucked up the lyrics. Then he starts shouting a bit, for some reason, and says, "It's CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM." [Despite the fact that nobody was even bothering to boo him. - Georgi] Barry Humphries wants Tara to do better Acting, and Tara gripes about the song choice [To be fair, 'Let's Hear it for the Boy' is a hard song to make about DEATH - Georgi] [DEPTH, you lunatic. - Carrie] and that she had been ill. Barrowman interjects, "We all get sick IN THE WEST END." Van Outen says it was Tara's best performance, but it was still shit, and judges Sam's Acting unfavourably. ALW says Tara needs a better song, and that he is staggered about John and Denise's comments about Sam because SHE IS ONLY SEVENTEEN, and he is not surprised that she faltered because SHE IS SO YOUNG. [Maybe she is too young to play Nancy then? Do you think, maybe, Mr Webber, sir? Gah. - Georgi]

That's your lot for this evening - dial now to save your favourite Nancy. Recap! Our top Nancys for this week were Sarah and Jodie. Jessie still hasn't done a bad performance. Everyone else was so-so. Tara probably deserves to get voted off. Join Steve tomorrow for the results, when the Nancys meet "former Joseph Ben", who is in Hairspray! Whoop!

Sunday, 6 April 2008

And then there were 10...

It's the results show! Cue titles. Norton strides on to the strains of Consider Yourself in a ghastly petrol blue shiny tux with an orange shirt.There must have been a power cut.

Teh gurlz perform the opening bars of Oom Pah Pah AGAIN. Have they forgotten we had to sit through this last night? The mockney accents are out in full force. Norton comments about them sitting on their bustles.

The Nancys will be facing their fears in this week's mission and the Olivers will be back (groan). Cue reintroductions of teh panel and Phantom music for the Lord.

We get a quick recap of Saturday's solo performances. Francesca doesn't want to be in the sing-off again and is gratified to have the judges' support. Tara is gutted her voice didn't hold out. Jodie wants to be back next week - she's not cabaret, she's West End. Norton asks the Nancys what they thought about the judges' comments. Keisha says she's a fighter. [BORING. Fuck off. Get on with it. - Carrie]

Mission time! Nancy lived in an evil Dickensian slum, with a violent boyfriend, so naturally it's time to scare the Nancys. They get confronted with rats and there's much screeching. Niamh's freaking. Rachel says it's spine-chilling and she's disgusted. But it's not over yet - Bill Sikes, played by actor Stephen Hartley [whom I love a little bit - Carrie] for the mission, is lurking around the corner and the Nancys get tested on their Acting skills as they do the scene where Nancy stands up to Sikes before he kills her.

Denise van Outen is watching: Sarah has a real attitude. Rachel looks like she's going to have an asthma attack but DVO thinks she can do it (although she doubts it can be 8 times a week). Jessie was apparently all over the place and Jodie was disappointing, as she didn't Feel The Fear.

Cut back to the studio: ALW is stroking a rat (no, not Humphries), which Norton claims was found in the BBC canteen. DVO says she found the mission revealing. ALW: "Nancy has to be tough."

The 11 go back on stage for a group rendition of No More Tears (Streisand/Summer). They are all in long black gowns with huge gold belts. Tara still looks like Heather Mills. Niamh comes across as strong. Keisha still looks like a TV presenter. [This is one of my favourite songs EVER. Not this version of it, though. - Carrie]

ALW: "Niamh was extraordinary, and Jessie and Rachel. So many great girls."

Norton asks the judges who stood out. The Dame is rooting for Niamh and Rachel. JB opts for Ashley and Cleo, who both exuded a strong sexiness. DVO doesn't get a say.

Cut to Chester: he's really excited. We get a quick profile: he's 12 and his hobbies are dancing, acting, singing and cooking. [Oh, Chester. Email me in six years' time, when you want to spend your Friday nights in London's Trendy West End, and not the theatre district, OK? - Carrie] The Olivers perform Pie Jesu together. Gwion just looks too angelic, goody-goody, butter wouldn't melt to be Oliver. At their age, they probably don't realise that what they are singing would, if translated, see them renditioned out to Guantanamo Bay for a spot of light waterboarding.

But never mind that. Norton says the burning question now is "who's through?" He asks the panel "who is not Nancy?". JB says Samantha, while DVO and the Dame are both keen to kick out Keisha.

It's time for the results: Ashley, Niamh, Jessie, Jodie (who share a quick hug), Samantha, Francesca, Rachel and Sarah are all through. Cleo, Tara and Keisha are left.

Tara looks like she knows she's going home, but it's Keisha who learns first that she's in the sing-off. Tara is then told she is safe after all. So - both the Black Nancys are in the sing-off. [Racialist British public! - Carrie] My cash is on Keisha going home tonight. She had the lowest public vote.

They're singing I Know You So Well from Chess [and to be frank they're not a patch on your Bitching team, who have sung this song in a variety of Elaine/Barbara combinations - Carrie]. Norton reminds them: "Slip up now and you could regret it for the rest of your life". ALW looks grim then winces at one of Keisha's notes. In fact, it's bum notes galore and when duetting it's hard to tell who's more out of tune. Keisha's voice seems thin in places and Cleo is definitely acting it better. [Keisha gets the show-off Paige descant, and still fucks it up. Cleo was much more sensitive in her performance. - Carrie]

ALW: "Nothing is so good it lasts eternally. It's a difficult choice, the most difficult of the series so far." Er, this IS only the second sing-off, we're not in week 9 yet. But, based on what he just heard, shock! He's saving Keisha! Cleo is out. The Lord tells Cleo: "You were fantastic, tonight was not the right result but you have a place in the West End." Er, if it's not the right result, why is he booting her and saving Keisha? [Bullshit judging, Webber, you fool. Why do you do this? - Carrie]

Cleo makes a brief fighting talk speech then it's time for her to sing out the show. She gets a standing ovation from the studio audience. Keisha looks pained - she knows she's still only in thanks to the grace of the Lord (although gawd knows why, she was easily the worst this week). And then there were ten...

11 fillies champing at the bit

Second live show: Saturday, 5th April 2008

It's Saturday night. I have a bottle of wine at the ready. There are 11 Nancys left, and tomorrow one more will be voted off! Welcome to I'd Do Anything! Last week! "The standard was scorching." Amy got voted off. Tonight! The Olivers will perform again! Various cliches: Cleo does not want her Nancy journey to end! Francesca does deserve to be here! Keisha is ready to fight all the way! Which Nancy will you choose? Can you be arsed to vote?


The audience are clapping along to Graham's entrance music, 'Consider Yourself'. Drink! The fans are here, the band is ready, the panel are perched (and John and Denise still have a club that Barry isn't allowed to join) and the Lord is delirious with excitement. Are you sure that's not just constipation? Time to welcome the Nancys, this week performing 'Oom-Pah-Pah'. Aww, bless, the little Olivers are all clapping along. Some of them don't know the moves. All the ladies are doing quite good Nancying. Least convincing, for my money: Niamh. Here goes Graham with a drum. Must he participate? I prefer it when he keeps a good sneering distance from proceedings.

It's the second show, Graham tells us, "and already everyone's talking about who will play Nancy and Oliver in the West End." Forgive me for being pernickety, but that is the point of the show, isn't it? [That's what I thought when he said that. V odd scripting. - Carrie] Anyway, I think he means London's Trendy West End. ALW can save one girl every week, meaning he can pretty much control exactly who gets through to the final. Don't forget to vote now! "Like the Grand National, we've got no frontrunner, but we've got 11 fillies champing at the bit." Yes, I was expecting horse-related punnage this evening. Fortunately none of the Nancys are horse-faced, so nobody should take too much offence. The Olivers will be performing too, but nobody cares because we can't vote for them and make the losers cry.

Graham introduces the panel and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Cue Phantom music. Graham recycles his "don't make a face, you wrote it" joke from last series. Graham reminds us that Oliver! isn't a Lloyd Webber production, presumably to try and quieten some of the critics who are saying he's just getting free publicity from the BBC. You know who you are, Kevin Spacey. [Who does, to be fair, have a point. - Carrie] Andrew says the Nancys have to show a sense of humour, which they've all just done with 'Oom-Pah-Pah', so we can tick that one off the list. They also have to have "vulnerability... combined with real steel". Graham asks rhetorically whether the Nancys will be able to live up to Andrew's "Great Expectations". Dickens-related pun! Drink! He also reiterates the part that we're casting, in case you had forgotten: Nancy "has a heart of gold, but is also a bit of a floozie... a Victorian Kat Slater, if you will".

First out of the gates tonight, Emo Nancy Niamh and Urban Nancy Cleo. Niamh didn't mind being compared to Wednesday Addams by Barry last week, because she used to dress up as her for Hallowe'en, but this week she wants to show something different. She's got an upbeat song, and also some Boys to dance with. The backing dancers seem to have been mixing it up in the Nancy Mansion. Niamh wants to show the panel that she's "not a one-trick pony". Cleo "felt like a star" last week. She feels like she's "being chiselled" because she is a "street kid, from an estate". She wants to "seize the opportunity" and keep focused, and, as we know, she doesn't want her Nancy journey to end. Drink!

Niamh is first up, singing 'I've Got the Music in Me'. She looks like she's enjoying her Boys. It's a pretty good pop performance, but is it a Nancy performance? I'm not sure. Kudos for hitting that high note at the end though. Cleo is taking on the legend that is Nina Simone with her rendition of 'Feeling Good'. She has Boys as well, but only two of them. It's a bit risky tempting comparison with Nina Simone, but I think Cleo got away with it. [And, indeed, John Barrowman, whom I was fully expecting to leap out of his seat and shout, 'I SING THIS SONG! I SANG IT FOR THE QUEEN, DAMN YOU!' - Carrie]

Graham says he's heard that Niamh is eating a lot of greens, and she reveals that she has developed a taste for olives. Cleo eats lots of raw vegetables because she wants to live to 150. Are we really interested in the Nancys' dietary habits? Denise thinks that Niamh isn't a one-trick pony but "a winning racehorse" and she gave "a leading lady performance" because although she had lots of dancers, she held the focus of attention. Denise's concern about Niamh is whether she's "too fragile" to be Nancy. Cleo's vocal was "earthy" and Denise liked the rawness, but she doesn't like her "pained expression" and wants to see her loosen up. Barry thinks both of them are wonderful and thinks they should all get a show of their own. He says Niamh has "a waif-like quality", which isn't necessarily right for Nancy, "a victim of domestic violence" - glad someone on the panel is keeping it real. He sees her on album covers. Cleo has "always been a favourite" of Barry's and he heard "anguish" in her voice. John thought that Niamh was "wicked, outstanding and wonderful, absolutely spot-on", while Cleo was "missing the connection with the words". The Lord thinks that they've "put the reality back into reality TV - you're that good". Nobody seems sure what to make of that comment. Niamh is also busy putting "the vamp into vampire", and hers was "an actress's performance". Andrew doesn't want to "Cleopatronise" Cleo - ha ha! - but he found her exciting and thought she had come on since last week.

Our second pair of Nancys are Keisha and Samantha. Last week Keisha was compared to a young Shirley Bassey, so to belabour the comparison, she's going to sing 'Get The Party Started' in an M&S-ad style. Just asking for trouble, if you ask me. Meanwhile, I warm to 18-year-old Samantha in her VT, when she claims that now she has worn hotpants on national TV, she feels like she can do anything! There's an attitude I like. Keisha's performance is a bit too children's TV presenter for my liking, and her pitching at the start of the "I'm coming out..." line is dodgy. [Also, I hate when people sing the backing vocal bits as well as the melody. It sounds stupid and rushed. - Carrie] Meanwhile, Samantha is singing Girls Aloud's 'See the Day', and while I never thought I'd say this about a Girls Aloud song, I'm not sure she has the maturity and emotional depth for this sort of thing. Ooh, key change! Drink!

Over to the panel. John thinks that Keisha "didn't meet the Bassey challenge" and Samantha's performance was "emotionally empty" - eek, I hate it when I agree with the Barrowman [I also agreed with JB - both performances were pants - Louise]. Denise agrees with John that Keisha wasn't Nancy because she was too "wide-eyed and cutesy", but she thought Samantha was good. Barry seems to be turning into the Sharon Osbourne of the series, as there's not a Nancy he doesn't like [the Dame is fast turning into the dirty old perve man of the show, he has a nasty leer in his eye - Louise]. He thought Keisha was "feisty", while Samatha was "magnificent... like a younger and more interesting Catherine Zeta Jones", although we have yet to learn whether she has "a taste for older men". There's that roguish Fagin charm coming through, see? [I nearly had an aneurysm from laughing at this. - Carrie] Meanwhile, Mr Webber thinks that Keisha needed "more tiger in the tank" to do the lady from Tiger Bay justice, while he feels that Samantha has "the makings of a real Nancy in theatre terms", which I interpret to mean people would come to see her because she's hot.

There's obviously an odd number of Nancys this week, which means one of them isn't presented in a pair, and this week it's sing-off survivor Francesca. She's worried that people aren't voting for her because they think she's already a professional actress and shouldn't be in the competition, but unfortunately she just sounds like she's trying to make people feel sorry for her, and I don't think it's going to gain her any votes. As Steve said last week, Francesca was the best thing about Rent Remixed (not that that's saying a lot), but she has yet to make me like her. It's not going to help that she's singing 'Somebody to Love' from We Will Rock You, which I feel obliged to point out is NOT A PROPER MUSICAL [I also pointed this out to my living room in general at high volume - Carrie]. Also, Francesca's high notes are questionable, just like they were last week. This year's Helena, perhaps?

Yet again, the Barrowman gets first bite at the apple and tells Francesca that her "pitch problem" was sorted (not by my ear!) and that it was a "great, good, gritty performance". Barry's Nancy-adjective of the evening is "feisty", but he's a bit worried that Nancy was a gin-drinking gal, while Francesca looks "dairy-fed". Denise thinks that Francesca had "bucketloads of grit", and that being in the bottom two was the best thing that could have happened to Francesca (apart from, like, not being in the sing-off, obv) because Nancy is a fighting girl, and she had to fight her way back into the competition. ALW is glad that he saved her, because she's prettier than Amy (okay, I might have made that up) and she's "a professional". I thought they weren't looking for a professional? Whatevs.

Time for a little Oliver interlude. This week, the Olivers have been to visit the production of Billy Elliott, tried on some costumes, and done some Acting to impress the Lord and Sir. The Olivers get to perform 'Electricity' from Billy Elliott, complete with name-straps, in an attempt to get us interested in the process. Blond Sam still freaks me out, Jordan is way too stage-school, and Joseph's quite rubbish. Gwion gets to participate, although he's already through - he's going to need to work on that accent though. After the song, we discover that the next Oliver through to the semi-final (I still don't understand how this works - could somebody explain it, please?) is Chester, which leads me to suspect that ALW and Cameron Mackintosh are judging the Olivers based on our blog. [Hooray! - Carrie] [I'm definitely rooting for Team Chester - Louise] In which case: I'm liking Kwayedza this week, although I'm not sure about the potential for Black Oliver - I assume at least his mother would have been white. Still, I'm an expert on neither Dickens or Victorian England, and I think Kwayedza deserves to go through, if you're listening, Messrs Webber and Mackintosh. [I refer you to my black Oliver thesis in Nancy School week 2... - Carrie] Graham Norton asks Chester whether he has a favourite Nancy, and he plumps (no pun intended) for Jodie, who looks like she might cry, although he also quickly adds that he loves them all.

Back to Nancy business, and Rachel and Sarah are next. I quite like Sarah, and I love the fact that her brother says that when she sings, it's "like a thousand stars bursting". Aww, bless his little cotton socks. Sarah's a bit concerned at her little brother seeing her more sexy performance this week, though. Rachel's VT is so much BLAH. Sarah is singing 'Take Another Little Piece of my Heart', and I'm sure she, like me, grew up with the Erma Franklin version and not Beverley bloody Knight [and let's NOT forget Janis Joplin, my fellow bitch-bloggers - Louise] [Georgi's point is right, though; Erma Franklin's version was released in the UK in 1992, hence Sarah would have grown up with that, or at least the advert it was used on, like Georgi and I (and I presume Steve and Joel) did - Carrie]. I'm liking it, anyway. She's got quite a voice on her. Ooh, key change! Drink! Rachel sings Xtina's 'Beautiful', which: blah.

Srsly, why does John Barrowman always get to go first? Sort it out, Norton! John says that Rachel's "honesty gave me chills", and repeats the word "beautiful" three times. WE GET IT, BARROWMAN. [Rachel failed to convince me at all - too much over-Acting that suggested she hadn't convinced herself either - Louise.] He thought that Sarah was "strong and consistent, but missing a slight edge". Barry says that Rachel is "a small girl" who gave "a big performance", although Sarah is smaller. He thinks Sarah is more Wizard of Oz than Oliver! OMG, Barry Humphries is in Steve's head! Or reading our blog. Or both. Eek. I wouldn't wish being in Wicked on anyone, though. [I am very excited about the idea that they're all reading our blog and using it to form their opinions. In which case - Barrowman, stop talking about your penis. Mackintosh, have you cast Richard Armitage as Sikes yet? Lloyd Webber, can I come to your own personal theatre and sing for a bit? - Carrie] Denise says that while both Nancys were "vocally strong", Rachel was "mindblowing" and made the song her own - drink! At this rate, I'm going to need another bottle of pinot grigio. With Rachel, Denise has the same concerns as John - she's "smiley and nice", and not a "street urchin". I think Sarah just needs more to work with, and a chance to unleash that filthy laugh again. ALW says that Rachel's song could have backfired because she is so beautiful (bleurgh), but it was "a triumph" because she sang it as though she was trying to convince herself that she was beautiful. He doesn't agree with the negative comments about Sarah, because he thinks she's "the other side of what Nancy could be". John tries to argue. Don't argue with the Lord if you know what's good for you, Barrowman!

Our next two Nancys are Tara and Jodie. Tara was the weakest link last week, and Denise thought she deserved to go out. She's crying in the VT - boo! Nancy wouldn't cry in public. Tara insists that she's not "polished", and hopes that she will show her raw side this week. Jodie thinks that 'Chasing Pavements' showed her serious side, and she's pleased to have something more up-tempo to sing this week. But disaster strikes! when she comes down with the flu and is banned from singing, or even speaking. Let's hope she's alright on the night.

Tara is introduced as "Welsh Nancy", which suggests that the producers don't think that Francesca needs regional support - which might be where she's going wrong. Tara is singing 'Without You', and does quite a good job of what's quite a difficult vocal, but I just don't see her as Nancy at all. She's still Acting way too hard, and her voice is nice, but it's a pop voice [Tara is so not Nancy, but I can see her as Mucca in Heather Mills - the Musical, on the courthouse steps chucking a bucket of water over the Lord - Louise]. Jodie, meanwhile, has her diva shoes on to sing 'I'm Every Woman', and she even has dancing boys. I know Carrie's jealous. [Heh. Definitely. You wait. A troupe of boys is my DESTINY. - Carrie] I'm not sure the song quite suits Jodie though, and ALW doesn't look impressed. It's early days, but I think Jodie might be my favourite Nancy, or at least the most Nancy-ish one. Key change! Drink! It has been a good show for key changes. Perhaps the producers are trying to cater to the drinking-game-playing demographic. I'll have to crack open the Smirnoff soon.

Let's see what the panel have to say. Denise, who condemned Tara last week, thought that she wasn't overacting and managed to "pull it back", so we saw her vulnerability, but ultimately the song was "too big" for her, ie she didn't really have the range and her vocal was "strained" on the top notes. However, she loved Jodie's performance, although as a former cabaret singer, Jodie needs to be careful of the "cabaret endings" to her notes. John loved Tara, and says that Jodie was very showbiz, but "you represent every woman who watches this show". I think he just called her common. Barry says that Tara "sold the song", but she was "a little chaste", in contrast to Jodie's "raunchy and powerful" performance. Mr Webber says that he's hit a "speedbump" in the evening because Tara had a difficult song which was "difficult to act in that key" (what?) and she didn't make it her own (anti-Drink!), and really he didn't think the songs suited either of the Nancys.

The final two Nancys of the evening are Ashley and Jessie. Denise criticised Ashley last week for being "too jazz hands". Apparently she's the comedian of the Nancy Mansion. This week, she wants to give "an honest performance", and not be too OTT. Denise criticised Jessie's posture last week, so she is spending "every waking and sleeping moment" in six-inch heels, which: OUCH! Also, she's getting some help from "some well-heeled ladies" - that is, members of the cast of Chicago. Excuse me, but why is she the only one getting special treatment? Could Jessie be the Chosen One?

Ashley's singing Duffy's hit single 'Mercy', and she has a Boy to work with, but she doesn't have the gravelly quality I'd like to hear, she's barely interacting with her Boy, and she doesn't really look sure what she's doing. In all, not the best performance [she certainly didn't look like she was begging for mercy to me - Louise]. Jessie's singing 'Killing Me Softly', and although her vocal is a bit breathy, it's a beautifully understated performance - although at some points, she's in danger of being drowned out by the backing vocals. She seems to have solved her posture problems by singing in a skyward direction all the time.

Denise says that she was worried about Ashley last week, but she was "fantastic", and Denise "loved the movement with the guy". She's glad that Jessie took her comments from last week onboard, and thought she was "a hundred times better" and she has a "special quality". Eau de Chosen One? John thinks that Ashley "put some Glasgow in it", which is fairly meaningless, and Jessie, "one word - perfection". Barry loved both performances, as he seem to have loved every performance this evening. He thought Jessie "touched the heart" and showed "defiance and tenderness", while Ashley had "more warmth", like "an attractive Fergie". This prompts ALW to respond: "What's the matter with Fergie? She speaks well of you." I don't think ALW needs to name-drop [maybe not, but the Dame deserved ALW's bitchback at him - Louise]. Anyway, he wants Ashley to stay in because he thinks she has "a lot to explore". Of Jessie, he responds, "Never mind killing me softly with your song, you're pinning me to the back wall with your talent." Jessie tells Graham that she appreciates it if the panel want to give her tips on improving her performance.

That's your lot for this evening! I still haven't decided on my favourite Nancy, but Cleo, Sarah, Jodie and Jessie are the frontrunners. Tomorrow - the Nancys come face-to-face with some rats! Join Louise for our results round-up.

Epilogue: John Barrowman has his own quiz show? With children?! Jesus H Christ.