Right then folks, we now know who’s made it to the final. Was it who you were expecting? Is there a totally left field couple that got all the way who you thought wouldn’t make it past week 1? Is there someone you believed was a shoe-in who went out weeks ago? None of that of course matters now…because now it’s one last effort to go for the Glitterball. But first of course, there’s the Semi-Final. We know that Semi-Final week is hard, because of the having to do two dances. But, the couples that have made it this far are usually the ones that can put on the good performances, and this time round was no different. First off was Stacey & Kevin’s Charleston, of which the first thing I said was “that’s better”. You may recall last week that, even in spite of them gaining a perfect score, Faye & Giovanni’s effort didn’t win me over, as I felt it too precise, too technical. By contrast, Stacey & Kevin did it well proper, with wild limbs, waggling legs and the like that made it look like an unholy mess, which is what the best ones are supposed to look like.
Their second routine was a delightful Viennese Waltz, that I enjoyed, although Judge Craig, as he seems to (do we have a psychic link?) put his finger on the thing that I did find wrong with it, which was taking too long at the beginning to get into hold…he likened it to an American Smooth Viennese Waltz at the start, which went into a straight Viennese once they got going. There are times when I do find it hard to articulate, even to myself, what I see that is wrong with a routine, given my lack of knowledge about dancing. This was the case with Joe & Dianne’s Viennese Waltz. I knew that there was something about it that I didn’t like, but I couldn’t identify what it was – I just knew that there was something wrong with it. then the judges helped me along by saying that there was too much rise and fall, which you shouldn’t have in a Viennese Waltz. For the Semi-Final, this was not Joe & Dianne’s week, as their second dance was an Argentine Tango, which was far too stompy – a sentiment with which Judge Craig and I were in agreement (although I said it first!!). Faye & Giovanni meanwhile opened with a Samba, which we all know is difficult. I mean, even me, who’s never done a Samba in my life know how difficult Samba is, because of the bounce action.
Faye acknowledged that the Samba wasn’t her dance, going so far as to say she’d like to burn her shoes, which is fair enough I suppose. To me, it certainly wasn’t worth a 10, even though it got one from Judge Bruno. But then there was HER second dance, which was also an Argentine Tango. And goodness me was it scrumptious. I absolutely loved it, and I will say so repeatedly to whoever wants to listen. I love it when Argentine Tango is done to a traditional piece of music, so that is always going to get a thumbs up, but then Faye did it so well. Judge Bruno was purring about the cadenza towards the end of the routine, although what he was really talking about was the rapid sequence of voleo adelantes that she did, and which you can enjoy for yourselves.
To me, that was worth a perfect score. Again, I’m no expert, but I didn’t see anything wrong with it, or at least, enough that could warrant taking a mark away. But, as is so often the case, Judge Craig is the hardest to please, and so they only ended up with 39. Suffice to say, I was not impressed by that.
But there we are. Despite their potential tribulations, all three couples went straight through to the final, leaving Lauren & AJ (for the first time) and Ashley & Pasha (for the third time in three weeks) to slug it out in the dance-off. Ashley & Pasha had started off with a Paso Doble that didn’t wow the judges, but for the dance-off chose their American Smooth, which certainly did, as it gave them their second perfect score of the series. It also wowed me – people can say what they like, but first and foremost they have to admit that Ashley is a beautiful dancer, and this was no exception. On the flip side, I’ve said for some time that Lauren has reached a plateau, and has shown no sign of being able to get past it. It isn’t so much a glass ceiling as one made of reinforced concrete. They started off with what was a reasonably decent Tango, although again, Judge Craig and I were in agreement about her body shape, which to me didn’t have enough of the ‘Y’ shape we’ve come to expect. Unfortunately though, they got stuck with doing a Samba as their second dance, which doesn’t do anyone any favours. Faye hated it, didn’t do especially well, in her opinion, mine and some of the judges, and got 37. Lauren, the weakest dancer left, was on a hiding to nothing and it showed when they only scored 23, which you should not be scoring at this stage. Needless to say, it was the Tango that they chose in the dance-off. I’ll be honest, the decision for me seemed harder than it might have been, because Lauren looked as if she did slightly better, while, having chosen the routine for which they got a perfect score, Ashley’s was not a perfect score performance. But, as we may have expected, it was Ashley that got the decision with the judges, and so, if you had Lauren & AJ in the sweep, then you’ve unfortunately fallen, much like Devon Loch, with the end in sight.
Moving to the leagues, we find that Ashley & Pasha’s perfect score has allowed them to open up a ten point advantage over Faye & Giovanni in the main table, while Stacey & Kevin are in third. In the ballroom table Faye & Giovanni’s lead has gone down to six points over Ashley & Pasha, with Stacey & Kevin another four points back in third, while in the latin league Ashley & Pasha’s advantage is five points over Faye & Giovanni, with Joe & Dianne this time in third. In the minor competitions, Ashley & Pasha have a 0.6 of a point advantage over Faye & Giovanni in the average score competition; their score of 39 back in Week 8 remains the highest individual weekly score, while their total of twenty 10s is one more than Faye & Giovanni.
The odds for the final, according to William Hill, are:
- Stacey Dooley – 4/9
- Joe Sugg – 11/4
- Faye Tozer – 7/1
- Ashley Roberts – 20/1
I don’t think I’ve seen it be the case that the best dancer going in to the final has been given the longest odds, but I think it’s fair to say that even Ashley has accepted that she can’t win now, as the Grand Final is based solely on the GBP’s vote, and the GBP have seemingly made it apparent that Ashley is not their choice. If that’s the case, will it be fifth time lucky for Kevin?
From the BBC
You can always tell when Strictly gets to the business end of the series, because multiple stories about it start appearing on the BBC News website. This week has been no exception:
- “Strictly Come Dancing: Is Ashley Roberts too good to be a contestant?“
- “Lauren Steadman: Strictly Come Dancing has ‘normalised’ disability“
- “Strictly Come Dancing 2018: Little Mix to perform on semi-final Sunday“
- “Strictly Come Dancing’s Lauren Steadman has been teaching salsa for four years and is basically a pro already”
- “Strictly’s Joe Sugg refuses to deny romance rumours with Dianne Buswell as he squirms through Phillip Schofield grilling”
- “Stacey Dooley’s boyfriend ‘fears Strictly curse over her close relationship’ with Kevin Clifton”
- “The real reason why the Countess of Wessex and Lady Louise Windsor visited Strictly Come Dancing”
- “Strictly’s Charles Venn shares his sadness after being snubbed from the live tour as full line up is announced”
- “Strictly Come Dancing star Ashley Roberts DODGES questions about dance experience”
- “Strictly’s Seann Walsh makes cruel dig at ex-girlfriend after cheating on her with Katya Jones”
- “Strictly Come Dancing’s Faye Tozer defended by Steps bandmate over dance backlash”
Movie Week Halloween Week Blackpool Musicals Week Semi-Final Week
- The Grand Final
So, that’s that then – we now know the line up for the Grand Final of Strictly 2018. If your couple is there, then congrats. You have a week to look forward to as you get yourselves thinking of what you might be able to do with the dosh that you could win, while for the rest of you, you can just settle down and enjoy the final as it happens. Which is more than I will be able to do as, thanks to BT Sport, Fulham v West Ham is scheduled to kick-off at 1730 on the night of the Final. So, while you’re enjoying three dances from the final couples, I’ll be freezing bits of myself off at Craven Cottage in hopes of three points.