It might be known as one of the cosiest shows on TV that’s perfect for comfort viewing, but over the years Strictly Come Dancing have aired several routines that have verged on the surreal.
And while Strictly might be into its 18th year, it proved over the weekend that it still has the capacity to catch viewers off guard, as proved with Max George and Dianne Buswell’s Couple’s Choice routine.
The performance, set to the theme tune to The Simpsons, sparked plenty of conversation online, dividing viewers who couldn’t decide whether they loved it or couldn’t get over its more bizarre moments.
Inspired by this, we’re looking back at some of Strictly’s most surreal performances ever, beginning with the one that sparked so much conversation...
Max George and Dianne Buswell (2020)
Unquestionably one of the most surreal moments in Strictly history, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly which bit of Max George and Dianne Buswell’s routine is the most alarming.
The bit where they hula out of some inflatable doughnuts is definitely up there, as is the part where Dianne’s Marge pushes Max’s Homer to the floor via a backwards roll (landing with a bit of a thud, no less). But let’s be honest… nothing is going to beat that leg saxophone, is it?
Richard Coles and Dianne Buswell (2017)
Dianne’s Strictly journey actually began with a very surreal first step, though.
Her first ever routine on the show was this one, which begins with Reverend Richard Coles descending from the ceiling on top of a cloud, while strumming a fake harp.
Shirley Ballas was impressed, awarding the pair a six for their efforts, but Craig Revel Horwood was less enthused, dusting off his two paddle for the occasion.
Ashley Roberts and Pasha Kovalev (2018)
We have so many questions. Why is this trolls-themed routine set to Witch Doctor? Why is Ashley wearing a pink bodysuit but no pink face paint? Whose idea was the voice distortion?
Still, we have to admit it was a great Charleston.
Colin Jackson and Erin Boag (2005)
By the time the Strictly final rolled around in 2005, the Glitterball Trophy was pretty much Colin Jackson’s for the taking. That is, until it came to the Showdances.
This *ahem* unusual puppet-based routine was far from a hit with the judges, with cricketer Darren Gough going on to win the Strictly title that year.
Fingers crossed for Colin that his upcoming stint on Dancing On Ice has a happier ending.
Jake Wood and Janette Manrara (2014)
Sometimes it’s not so much the set-up of a Strictly performance that makes it surreal, but rather the thought that, in this case, yes, you actually are watching Max Branning twerking to Mambo No. 5 in the name of Saturday night entertainment.
See also: Judge Rinder leaping out from behind the bench to perform an open-shirted Cha Cha Cha to Duffy’s Mercy.
Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton (2018)
Fair play to Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton, they really committed to this Minions-inspired routine, and what could have been something quite cringe-y in the wrong hands was an actual joy to watch as a result.
Craig Revel Horwood (2019)
In 2019, the judges took more of a hands-on role when it came to group routines, with Bruno Tonioli even singing live for one glorious performance.
But nothing could have prepared us for when Craig took centre stage, in full drag, for this Hello Dolly number.
We’ll admit, we’ve watched that routine multiple times to cheer ourselves up during lockdown, and it never fails.
Kirsty Gallagher and Brendan Cole (2015)
Kirsty Gallagher and Brendan Cole doing an American Smooth set to a number from Lady And The Tramp, complete with a twirling lift and a recreation of the iconic spaghetti-eating scene.
This is basically what would happen if they made a sequel to the Cats film, but with dogs. And we’re kind of here for it.
Russell Grant and Flavia Cacace (2011)
Even more bizarre than Russell Grant being fired out of a canon is the fact we can’t find a video of it anywhere online? Did it actually happen? Was the whole thing a fever dream?
Fortunately, there is at the very least photographic evidence of the moment in question (which, frankly, has put our mind at ease a bit).
AJ Pritchard and Lauren Steadman (2018)
This was actually a pretty great performance, but the opening 20 seconds of this video are so chaotic. AJ Pritchard chopping wood with hair extensions in, Lauren Steadman adapting an iconic line to include the word “mirrorball” so it makes no sense, the abrupt start to the music… we need a bit of a lie down afterwards, to be honest.
Ed Balls and Katya Jones (2016)
We could probably have included four or five Ed Balls appearances on this list, but we’ve gone for his Movie Week routine, which saw him channelling Jim Carrey in The Mask.
Or, in this case, The Green Face Paint.
The Teletubbies (2015)
Truthfully, we’re not even sure what this video is, or why it exists. And yet, it somehow still makes more sense to us than Max George playing Dianne Buswell’s leg like a saxophone.