If you’re reading this, chances are you’ll have seen at least some of this week’s Let’s Dance…for Comic Relief, which saw Noel Fielding channeling Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights. If you’ve wondered what goes on during the recording of the show, wonder no more! Velveteers were on hand on Saturday night, and here’s what they had to say:
A hotchpotch of umbrellas lined up in the grey Ealing rain, eyeing one another suspiciously. Then a gloriously camp kind face emerges with a clipboard, “Seated or dancing?” Colour-coded wristbands are dished out, and the umbrellas disperse for warming lattes before they reconvene as a snaking line around the portaloos an hour later.
When the doors eventually open we are led into Primetime USA: a vast, harshly sparkling studio of red, blue and silver sequins. Searing beams of coloured light sweep the space, bright enough to melt skin, while mechanical cameras roll back and forth across tracks, seemingly operated by no one. An hour of sub-hen party warm-up follows, consisting of a routine alarmingly similar to Bob Fossil’s Dance Academy from the Future Sailor’s Tour, but without the funnies. Girls scream in our ears anyway.
The filming of the show itself is fast, slick and automated. The clever use of pre-recorded links mean that the Joneses are behind you, in front of you and to the side of you chatting to friends & family in rapid, quick fire succession. The dances themselves provide a welcome respite from professional perfection; chinks of humanity show through the well-rehearsed routines. An ageless Lulu, the second act, is a compact explosion of energy and synchronisation. The crowd is impressed, whooping with delight, and she’s a tough act to follow.
Then Noel is introduced. Dry ice fills the stage, surrounded by a shimmering digital forest. The first few notes of Wuthering Heights, then an arm clad in red chiffon, followed by the rest of Noel looming from the fog. His performance is perfectly pitched at the point at which daftness, caring and pathos intersect. We’re spellbound – while the girls next to us continue to shriek at everything. Noel’s uncanny resemblance to Florence Welch is duly noted. In the full glare of primetime Saturday night and without his trademark uniform he seems fragile and vulnerable.
The remaining acts pass in a blur of beats, energy and tap dancing – and shrieking. It’s going to be close. Finally the votes are counted and we cling onto each other, full of hope for Boosh fans’ unparelleled capacity to vote. But we don’t manage it this time – surprised gasps whisper beneath the cheering.
Hearts pound as one by one contestants peel away, until we’re left with two: Lulu and Noel. The screamers scream for Lulu, while we pray for Noel. Keith Lemon draws it out…and then he’s through! Fielding’s through! We go mental, hugging each other and jumping up and down with relief and disbelief, slightly unsure at what point it began to matter so much.
Here’s to the final!
The final of Let’s Dance, featuring Noel takes place on March 12th. Red Nose Day itself takes place on March 18th. We’ll be posting further information over the coming weeks, but to find out more information on how YOU yourself can take part, as well as read more about all the incredible work the charity undertakes, please visit their official website.