Ed-ing For An Exit?
It was black armbands out last weekend as Greg and Natalie exited Strictly. Watching the show live on Saturday night it became sadly apparent they were targeted for an exit.
They endured nit-picking, lukewarm praise and a middling score of 32 following their quickstep routine – all the things anticipated to be in the script for Judge Rinder at Blackpool.
Pivotally, Judge Rinder followed from the pimp slot, and was offered a much more positive appraisal for his salsa, along with a one point higher score. Greg really needed to topple him on the public vote to survive but the show succeeded in killing any potential bounce for him.
Greg and Nat had a tearful exit on Sunday night and they weren’t the only ones left upset, as a drawer-full of pre-lives investments, intended to pay for Christmas, went up in smoke. On the bright side, the ritual burning of betting slips provided useful kindling during this cold snap.
Given they chose not to invest in Greg’s absolute beginner journey, and the endearing partnership he forged with Natalie, this doesn’t bode well for Ed and Katya. It perhaps tells us what seems to have been apparent since Chris Hollins triumphed in 2009: it is not prepared to get behind a less talented dancer who offers the show a feel-good ‘journey’ narrative and will stick rigidly to promoting who it perceives are the best dancers.
The low scoring for Ed on Saturday also felt like it was purposely done to try and deflate his vote. Blackpool is usually a feel-good show with plenty of score inflation but instead of leaving viewers in a joyous mood following Ed’s jive, the 4, 6, 7, 6 he was awarded felt underwhelming and a downer on proceedings.
The low scoring for Ed on Saturday also felt like it was purposely done to try and deflate his vote
Ed is not pulling in votes by being some kind of anti-vote. Viewers are voting for him because of the entertainment value he provides, and they want to see and hear their support of him reinforced by the judges.
Watching the show there was a sense of them seeking to burst Ed’s bubble. This was hammered home on Sunday night’s show with Claudia’s leading question to Ed: ‘Ed, you scored 23. It is week 9. On behalf of you and Katya what would you like to say to the voting public?’
Ed handled his response as you would expect a former MP to handle it. It was an expertly spun out thank you to the viewers, but the overriding sense was the show imposing a big reality check on Ed’s progress.
As well as their individual dances, there will be a Cha Cha Challenge tomorrow evening as all the couples take to the dancefloor at once. This is usually a thinly-veiled exercise in managing the leaderboard.
Ed will dance a tango to a classic Rolling Stones track. There is room for some entertainment value again but the likelihood is, this will be on early and the judges again will aim to kill Ed with kindness. No leaderboard ties would be a further blow to Ed’s survival chance.
Among the remaining 6 contestants, it seems fair to assume Ore and Claudia have struggled the most on the vote series-long, each of them having a dance-off appearance to their name.
As well as their individual dances, there will be a Cha Cha Challenge tomorrow evening as all the couples take to the dancefloor at once. This is usually a thinly-veiled exercise in managing the leaderboard
Claudia will be coming back from her dance-off appearance at Blackpool and has the Argentine tango. Ore has the paso and if they are aiming to push Ed down into the dance-off we could see both Claudia and Ore (who performed 1st and 2nd in Blackpool) on late, eulogized and scored highly.
Danny will entertain with a samba, and while it is a tricky fast Latin dance which gives room for the judges to score him harshly, he has looked top notch in training. Louise will likely pull in a minimum of 36 for her waltz having got 32 in week 2 for her VW.
On paper, Judge Rinder’s rumba makes him look vulnerable of a first dance-off appearance. He has talked this up as his favourite dance and one he thinks will tell a powerful story. He has been cunning series-long in building up each of his dances as something of note and is clearly an expert spin doctor when it comes to trying to woo Strictly voters.
When you look at the various permutations, assuming no ties, if Ed manages to poll 2nd highest on the public vote there is a fair bit of leeway for him to potentially escape the dance-off. But if he falls to third highest he will be a lot more vulnerable and he may well have been 3rd best on the pv last week.
Pre-show the likeliest scenario appears to be an Ed vs Judge Rinder dance-off with Ed waving the show goodbye but Ed doesn’t make much appeal from a value perspective at 11-8.
It is hard not to see this series as a straight shoot-out between Louise and Danny. It looks long odds-on Ed and Judge Rinder will leave the show, in whichever order, in the next 2 weeks and then it will likely be up to the judges, assuming a semi-final dance-off, who it wants out of Claudia and Ore to join Danny and Louise in the final.
This week’s dances and songs:
Claudia and AJ will be dancing the Argentine Tango to ‘Cry Me A River’ by Justin Timberlake
Danny and Oti will be dancing the Samba to ‘Magalenha’ by Sergio Mendes
Ed and Katya will be dancing the Tango to ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ by The Rolling Stones
Judge Rinder and Oksana will be dancing the Rumba to ‘Lean On Me’ by Bill Withers
Louise and Kevin will be dancing the Waltz to ‘At This Moment’ by Michael Buble
Ore and Joanne will be dancing the Paso Doble to ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ by Lorde