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
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.