Lou’s To Win
The Strictly semi-final went pretty much as expected with Ore getting the pimp slot and enjoying a massive ramp, with Claudia subtly pointed towards the exit.
Ore topped the leaderboard which provided a nice 8-1 winner, and with Louise Top Female investments still on the line, it was nice to be on the right side of Strictly’s dark arts on this occasion.
Len standing to applaud Ore after his first dance, the quickstep, was the first sign it was ‘mission get Ore to the final’ night.
It also sent a shudder down the spine recalling Len doing the exact same thing to help push Matt Di Angelo into the final in 2007, which was done to cleverly conspire Gethin Jones’ elimination, gifting Alesha Dixon the series win. On that occasion, the show’s dark arts were a painful and costly lesson.
Heading into the final, you can make a case for all 3 contestants. Since joining the show in 2013, this will be Kevin Clifton’s fourth consecutive final appearance. He is a three-time losing finalist dancing with Kellie Bright last year, Frankie Bridge in 2014, and Susanna Reid in 2013.
Not only that but he has always finished in the top 3, standing there with his celeb partner at programme-end waiting to hear who has won the series. You wonder if the show might like him to finally win it this year. If they make a big thing of Kevin always being the bridesmaid in one of his and Louise’s VTs this could be a handy vote motivator.
Also in Louise’s favour is her being the only woman in the final. If, as seems likely, they continue to big up Ore tomorrow night, this will potentially be more to the detriment of Danny’s vote than Louise’s, as the most deserving male vote could get split. It is usually tough for a woman to win Strictly as the show favours a male who is the best fit in terms of Home Counties likability. But Louise is probably the most likeable female contestant they have ever had on the show and looks capable of bucking this trend.
It was certainly an impressive voting feat by Louise last Saturday to escape the dance-off despite dancing first, producing one of her least impressive performances dancing the samba as her second dance, and ending up joint-last on the judges’ leaderboard. She goes into tomorrow night’s final as the only contestant to have avoided the dance-off series-long.
Given her highest scoring dance of tango was scored less than Claudia’s quickstep last week, it was possibly a show of confidence in her public vote to place her first in the running order, because if Louise had been in the dance-off versus Claudia it would have been difficult for them to justify saving her. There are various permutations that could have led to the Claudia vs Danny dance-off. Louise definitely polled in the top 2 and maybe only the heavily ramped Ore, dancing from the pimp slot, topped her.
If they make a big thing of Kevin always being the bridesmaid in one of his and Louise’s VTs this could be a handy vote motivator
Given the Ore ramp, and Len’s words to Danny of ‘whatever happens tonight’ – an expression always interpreted as a negative in terms of a contestant’s public vote – they may well have been anticipating Danny’s dance-off appearance. Being in the bottom 2 last week should, however, give him a final boost, acting as a call to arms for his supporters.
Danny is arguably the best celeb dancer they have ever had on Strictly. He has been consistently brilliant throughout the series going all the way back to his superb cha-cha-cha in week 1. But as is the way with this show, if you start the series as the stand-out dancer, it gives you no room for a journey and puts a brake on the audience investing in you.
We have seen the likes of Natalie Gumede, Denise van Outen, Matt Baker and Ricky Whittle all endure final defeat despite being the stand-out dancers in their respective series. Like Danny, both Natalie Gumede and Denise van Outen had to win the semi-final dance-off to make the final. The edge Danny has over those two is that he is a voteable male dancer whereas you sensed Natalie and Denise were struggling to win voter favour series-long.
It is Len’s last series and he made a big song and dance, pardon the pun, regarding Ore having no dance background last Saturday. A sly dig at Danny? There has definitely been a sense of the producers being annoyed with Danny’s dance ability since series start, nit-picking his routines and ensuring some of his most impressive dances have not been pimp-slotted. He may well find he is dancing first tomorrow night.
We have seen the likes of Natalie Gumede, Denise van Outen, Matt Baker and Ricky Whittle all endure final defeat despite being the stand-out dancers in their respective series
As we saw with Kellie last year, a big semi-final pimping for her (performing last and placed at the top of the leaderboard) was followed by similar treatment in the final where she landed two perfect 40s in the first show. Kellie started last year’s final priced at 19 on Betfair (Jay was 1.25), but her live in-running price was smashed in on the back of a massive ramp-athon until she was nearly vying for favouritism with Jay when vote lines closed (Jay 1.9, Kellie 2.2).
Ore may well get the Kellie treatment this year, with Len being head cheerleader bigging him up. Len’s words have the power to move the market, especially when he says ‘You deserve to win’ or ‘Even if you don’t win’ – a red flag he has thrown out there in describing Ricky Whittle in a past final.
The judges’ choices, which will be danced first, will set the tone for the night. Danny seemed happy with his choice as it contrasts with his and Oti’s choice of samba. This hints it will be ballroom and as the one routine he messed up during the series, the judges may well have chosen his week 6 foxtrot (30) as these choices are made on the grounds of a routine the judges think they can improve on.
What they might have chosen for Louise is a tricky one. Possibly week 2’s VW (32) because anything for her since week 7’s AT has been very highly scored.
Ore also expressed his satisfaction on last night’s ITT which could mean week 3’s Gene Kelly-inspired American smooth (35) for him which was a very crowd-pleasing, classic ballroom routine. Him and Joanne have a showdance set to ‘I Got Rhythm’ which means it will be ballroom-based, possibly reminiscent of Tom Chambers showdance back in series 6:
It will have an old-fashioned feel, and Ian Waite on this week’s ITT reckoned Strictly viewers will love it. Jo also said they are going ‘massive’ with this and it will include props.
Danny probably has the most evocative showdance track in Adele’s ’Set Fire To The Rain’. Knowing Oti, she will throw the kitchen sink at this routine in terms of choreography and it could be epic. Intel from watching ITT this week suggests lots of different dance styles will be incorporated so it could also risk being too busy. It has been described as ‘dramatic’, ‘contemporary’ and will involve some Argentine tango.
Ore will get votes for being the total novice at series-start with no dance background; they will likely go big on how Louise has flourished as a performer and come out of her shell; Danny will get the plaudits for being the best dancer
On paper, Louise arguably has the least favourable showdance song in Whitney’s ‘One Moment In Time’ but it is an emotional track with a big crescendo at the end. Lots of spins and lifts, and some rumba are promised in this routine which was described by Kevin this week as ‘poetic’ and ‘lyrical’, telling the story of Louise’s journey through the series.
With it being only one final show this year, rather than two, and three couples competing instead of the usual four, the assumption is all three couples will be standing there at the end waiting to hear who has won, which would mean dead-heat rules applying for 2nd and 3rd.
Looking at the couples’ choices – which they will dance third on the night ‘to win the show’ – Ore’s jive (week 4, 39), Louise’s Argentine tango (week 7, 39) and Danny’s samba (week 10, 40) – all give them the chance to impress, and they could all land 40s. Louise’s AT could juxtapose nicely set alongside the two fast Latin numbers. It is also easy to envisage Ore’s jive being given the pimp slot.
The Strictly final generates a much bigger vote and is a different dynamic compared to elimination weeks. Viewers are voting for their winner and compared to elimination weeks voting numbers increase significantly. Ore will get votes for being the total novice at series-start with no dance background; they will likely go big on how Louise has flourished as a performer and come out of her shell; Danny will get the plaudits for being the best dancer.
It is a very difficult one to call pre-show but there is clear scope for Ore to trade much shorter than his price of 11 on Betfair at time of writing. On the basis she has managed to duck the dance-off series-long, and Ore and Danny could well split the most deserving male vote, Louise is the pick here to lift the glitterball.
If you have followed the series-long investment advice, you will be nicely covered on all 3 contestants regardless of the outcome in what has been another highly profitable series overall.
Keep an eye out for a final post, rounding up the full annual figures on the site’s advised investments in 2016, which will be posted before New Year. In the meantime, I would like to wish all readers a very happy Christmas.
Two of the three final dances & songs:
1st dance – judges’ choice – ???
2nd dance – showdance:
Ore and Joanne will be performing a Showdance to “I Got Rhythm” by George and Ira Gershwin
Danny and Oti will be performing a Showdance to “Set Fire To The Rain” by Adele
Louise and Kevin will be performing a Showdance to “One Moment in Time” by Whitney Houston
3rd dance – couples’ choice:
Ore and Joanne’s Favourite Dance will be a Jive to “Runaway Baby” by Bruno Mars
Danny and Oti’s Favourite Dance will be a Samba to “Magalenha” by Sergio Mendes
Louise and Kevin’s Favourite Dance will be an Argentine Tango to “Tanguera” by Sexteto Mayor