It was a bad week for Strictly drop outs leading up to Saturday’s show. First, Robert and Dianne had to withdraw, which was a shame but totally understandable - health comes first! I hadn’t realised Robert had been through the heart surgery two years ago, so definitely the right thing to do. And then Ugo had to take a week out (hopefully!) due to a back issue - I’m guessing that high jump into forward roll over Oti last week wasn’t such a good idea? Anyway, let’s take a look at those who did participate.
Rose & Giovanni - Cha CHa Cha
Another really good dance from Rose, although it didn’t look like she was always enjoying it - I think she was frustrated with the small mistakes she made. Amazing straight legs though, enhanced by those incredible fringe trousers. Their partnership continues to be strong and adorable, and during the chat with Claudia, I learnt a lot about hearing aids!
A bonus appearance by Jamie Laing to do the Ts & Cs, miss him.
Tom & Amy - Foxtrot
Although it was a traditional fluffy outfit, Amy’s dress was really annoying, masking quite a lot of both of their feet. Looked like a good dance, the stuff in hold was better than out of hold, and good for his first ballroom too. It feels really odd to be saying that at this point. Judges called it old-school but classy.
Tilly & Nikita - Paso Doble
Nikita teaching us about the Paso is fun, the training footage seemed like Tilly wasn’t enjoying this dance very much. It was better than I thought it would be from the VT, but maybe not quite as controlled as I would have liked, a bit too staccato in places. Felt like a long 90 seconds. I felt like it was overmarked, although do agree with the judges that it was probably her best dance.
Greg & Karen - Samba
Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting great things from this, and it wasn’t the best dance we’ve seen Greg do. I think it might be the first dance of the series that’s actually been a bit cringey, although fair play to him for throwing himself into it, great character and he was having fun. Also handled the criticism with good grace, particularly as he had a large mistake at the beginning. Interesting that it’s the first time he’s been nervous the whole show.
John & Johannes - American Smooth
Johannes got a bit emotional at being lifted, presumably that’s not something that’s happened before (the lift, not the emotions). It was such a good dance, they made it look effortless, fun, cute. There was a tiny bumping of feet, and the dance came to a weird end, but I loved it. He has such good arm finishing, as well, something the judges are always asking for. But they didn’t seem to like it as much as I did, I’m at odds with the judges all over the place today.
Rhys & Nancy - Salsa
Rhys started this by saying he was going to let go of his inhibitions, which scared me a bit because I feel like he needs to be reigning things in not letting them go! Incredible lifts, although I wasn’t that fussed about the rest of the dance. Good tricks, but was there enough salsa in there? Anton crushed the description: “frenetic and big.”
Sara & Aljaž - Tango
Black and white and only purple is my kind of TV, and very clever to do on live TV. Not a song or choreography that particularly grabbed me, it felt like another long 90 seconds, but she did a great job with it. Occasionally felt like she was being dragged round a bit, and he seemed to be shouting a lot of instructions at her, but still. Shirley needs to pick a tone when talking about week four, sometimes she’s like ‘hey, it’s only week four’ and sometimes she’s like ‘it’s week four, we need perfection.’ Again, the judges loved it a lot more than I did.
Dan & Nadiya - Cha Cha Cha
I can totally understand the feeling of being too embarrassed to dance at the school disco, and I think that will speak to a lot of people too. But how can you be embarrassed to dance to You Can’t Touch This? It’s epic because it’s so rubbish! Anyway, a fun dance, better than I thought it would be, although his hand resting on his chest annoyed me. The side scuttle move made it, top marks from me for that. He’s definitely starting to believe in himself, which is what this dance was all about.
Judi & Graziano - Waltz
A super moving performance from Judi, and as Motsi said, a huge thank you to her for sharing it with us. Graziano continuing to build his character by being super supportive. Unfortunately, I found the song really distracting. Changing the key signature to fit the waltz isn’t a new phenomenon on Strictly but I found this song really messed with my head. Not great technique but all about the sentiment.
Adam & Katya - Argentine Tango
I didn’t realise Adam had been bottom of the leaderboard two weeks in a row, that was a surprise to me. I feel like Rumba followed by Argentine Tango is really harsh - to very technical and exposing dances. The graphics on the floor were amazing, really felt like we were about to have a riff off at the bottom of the empty swimming pool. It was a really good dance, went quickly with those mad lifts, Katya is incredible!
Meanwhile, Motsi and Craig seem to be having a bit of a row this week, and it all culminates in the shoulder pads.
AJ & Kai - Samba
As soon as this started, I thought this might not end up as good as the previous two weeks for AJ. There were a couple of wobbles, and felt like the wrong legs were used occasionally, but mostly it just didn’t feel grungy enough, if that’s the right word. Craig was very brutal, just said it was poor, and surprised Tess to speechlessness. The scores didn’t match what they said though, there’s an element of goodwill in there, for sure.
It felt like a bit of an anti-climax to end on AJ & Kai’s samba, those comments were very disappointing for her, but that being said, it was a rollercoaster of a show anyway. Craig seemed in a really bad mood, and the scores didn’t seem to reflect the comments on a couple of dances. Plus, as I’ve said, I disagreed with a lot of the judges thoughts throughout anyway.
So it felt like there was a big gap to Greg at the bottom, and no surprise that he was in the bottom two. Judi joined him, which was more of a surprise, particularly considering the moving piece she did this week. The judges saved her, but I wonder if this might knock her confidence going into the next week. We bid farewell to Greg which means we also bid farewell to Emma - but quite frankly, we saw more of Dame Ems than I had ever anticipated.
Hopefully we’ll see Ugo back next week and have a full contingent of dancers to bring us another week of sparkles and fun.