Nothing Left In Will
‘How well Will Young deals with criticism is one aspect worth monitoring recalling his infamous Cowell retort auditioning for Pop Idol all those years ago.’
That was stated here in the Strictly pre-lives analysis and proved prophetic words as Will reacted badly on Saturday’s show to Len’s critique of his salsa. If that wasn’t already a deadly blow to his chances, news broke on Tuesday he was pulling out of this year’s show.
Writing about these shows is a chance to crystalise thoughts and helps in deciding upon trading positions. On this occasion, having managed to ignore my own reservations, Will’s exit saw a four figure green go up in smoke, having been happy to back him on the drift. Such are the slings and arrows of trading these shows and all part of the mental minefield you go through scrutinising the tv betting markets. All you can do is take it on the chin and move on.
We can probably extrapolate from Will’s departure this will mean a 3-couple final this year, instead of the 4 we have been used to in the last 4 series. If this is the case, it will be informative to see the format the Beeb chooses for the semi-final and whether they have a dance-off between the bottom 2 or, the couple with the lowest combined points from the judges’ leaderboard ranking and the public vote is automatically eliminated without a dance-off.
When you can guide 3 couples to the final without viewers knowing the pecking order in terms of the public vote, it adds intrigue whereas only having two rather gives the game away in revealing to the audience the 2 it most likely lies between for the win, with the Strictly winner decided by public vote alone.
At the moment, the BBC website still shows the semi-final rules as they stood prior to Will’s departure. But it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see these rules changed.
On to this week’s 3rd elimination market. As soon as you see couples dancing rumba, it sets alarm bells ringing, and both Anastacia and Daisy are tasked with this potential banana skin.
There is often a lot of subjectivity in the judges’ response to a rumba routine. In terms of song choices, ‘The Way We Were’ and ‘Careless Whisper’ are certainly songs that lend themselves to the tenderness of rumba. Daisy will be able to sell the sensuality of the dance and she will very likely be scored highly, maybe more so as a mechanism to keep her safe on the leaderboard because no matter how well she dances it may not translate to votes.
With Ana it is perhaps more a case of whether the prods. think she has had enough of a run on the show to be dispensable now. Daisy and Ana found themselves in trap 1 and 2 last week so if nothing else they can both hope for later slots but Daisy seems the more likely to turn up somewhere towards the end of the show.
After Melvin departed in week 1 and Tameka last week, this inevitably led to a, ‘Are Strictly voters racist?’ outcry from the media. The Beeb will no doubt be fearful of a third consecutive ‘non-white’ casualty, which probably means Naga is more likely to avoid the bottom 2 this week. She has a Charleston which can easily be lauded by the judges and it’s a dance the audience usually laps up, which could also help Lesley avoid the dance-off.
She has been filming in Malta this week but Anton has made the journey there to ensure they have been able to train. Much like Ed, Lesley has been one of the undoubted stars of the series so far and you sense there is plenty of goodwill behind her.
Laura will likely get the trademark ramp, and voting bounce, following her ‘surprise’ bottom 2 appearance last week, though it wasn’t a surprise here. Back in hold doing quickstep, she should be generously scored and positively critiqued to ensure her safety.
Market leader Danny also has quickstep and this week might be seized upon as a chance to be more severe in their assessments of him, if only to keep the competition looking more open.
In the battle of the foxtrots between Claudia and Louise, Louise has a much more empathetic song in Amy Winehouse’s ‘Tears Dry On Their Own’ to make a connection with the audience.
In terms of popularity in the Outright market the wheels have fallen off Judge Rinder as he has drifted to 20 on Betfair and you sense his comedy act is starting to wear thin, with Ed well and truly trumping him on that score. He has a VW this week which isn’t really a vehicle for his slapstick style and could easily be forgotten on the night.
Ore, meanwhile, bounced back into favour last week after an excellent AS routine to ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ with Gene Kelly’s widow even coming out in the press to say what a wonderful tribute she thought it was to her late husband. He has the chance to maintain momentum with a jive to ‘Runaway Baby’. This could even be a routine lined up for the pimp slot.
Greg also produced a strong AS last week but it looks like tomorrow night’s salsa could see a temporary hiccup on his Strictly journey. He has looked flat-footed in training and it is a notoriously difficult dance to pull off to a high standard. The plus for Greg backers is, he is getting this dance out of the way; and the hope is, he and Natalie have the fanbase to ensure their safety if they find themselves loitering towards the lower end of the leaderboard.
Ed has built a wonderful partnership with Katya and they have the paso. This looks teed up to be another barnstorming performance for him with the chance of plenty of verve with his cape work. For many viewers right now, Ed’s routine is probably the most anticipated on the night, and last week’s samba proved another triumph. Credit has to go to Katya for some truly inspired choreography:
Overall, you would have to say Anastacia looks a worthy favourite for 3rd elimination. We know she is struggling with injury putting future fast Latin routines in jeopardy and she will be due one the following week, so this might prove a convenient ending to her participation on this year’s show.
Looking at the pre-lives portfolio, if you took the advice here you have Danny, Louise, Greg and Ore all nicely on side. The worry with Greg is, whether he can reach the required standard, especially in fast Latin, to hold his own in those critical few weeks leading up to the final.
Outside of those 4, the only other 2 who look capable of having a say at the business end in this series are Daisy and Claudia. The clear concern with Daisy remains her votability and if the show managed to contrive her passage to the final she would look a very likely third-placer. Claudia potentially poses more of a threat.
In ballroom there remain unsolvable issues for her and AJ due to their height differential while her fast Latin is something of a work in progress and she hasn’t convinced outside of last week’s Charleston which did look tailor-made for her.
She does, however, now have a dance to call upon in that Charleston should she make the final that will have impact, and as an Olympic gymnast her showdance could be memorable so the advice here would be to play it safe and get her covered purely as a saver.
Looking even further ahead, Ladbrokes are offering 16-1 Jess Ennis to win Strictly next year, and 3-1 to take part. The recently-retired heptathlete and golden girl of British athletics would be the perfect fit with the Strictly audience and she has previously expressed her interest in taking part on the show here.
No doubt the Beeb would jump at the chance to sign her up should she makes herself available. If you are prepared to wait a long time before potentially being paid out, both bets look worth considering.
This week’s songs and dances:
Anastacia and Brendan will be dancing the Rumba to ‘The Way We Were’ by Barbra Streisand
Claudia and AJ will be dancing the Foxtrot to ‘I Really Like You’ by Carly Rae Jepsen
Daisy and Aljaz will be dancing the Rumba to ‘Careless Whisper’ by George Michael
Danny and Oti will be dancing the Quickstep to ‘I Won’t Dance’ by Fred Astaire
Ed and Katya will be dancing the Paso Doble to ‘Holding Out For a Hero’ by Bonnie Tyler
Greg and Natalie will be dancing the Salsa to ‘Wrapped Up’ by Olly Murs
Judge Rinder and Oksana will be dancing the Viennese Waltz to ‘Boom Bang A Bang’ by Lulu
Laura and Giovanni will be dancing the Quickstep to ‘Ballroom Blitz’ by The Sweet
Lesley and Anton will be dancing the Charleston to ‘Won’t You Charleston With Me’ from The Boy Friend
Louise and Kevin will be dancing the Foxtrot to ‘Tears Dry On Their Own’ by Amy Winehouse
Naga and Pasha will be dancing the Charleston to ‘Minnie the Mermaid’ by Firehouse Five Plus Two
Ore and Joanne will be dancing the Jive to ‘Runaway Baby’ by Bruno Mars
3rd elimination – Anastacia – 3pt win – 9-4 – Stan James
Outright – Claudia – 2pt win – 6-1 – Ladbrokes