Last night’s Strictly was strangely similar to last week’s offering for me. My two favourites (I’ve allowed myself one more than Brucie), Jake Wood and Frankie Bridge both performed strong routines.
Considering he is a forty-something with no previous dance experience, Jake is brilliant. Yes there was a slight stumble during his jive, and the judges were right about his “free arm, darling”, but this was still only a week four dance, and for energy and entertainment it was outstanding. His partner Janette does not seem to get as much exposure as some of the other female professionals (Iveta I can understand, but Ola...?), but she’s excellent and they are a well-matched couple. Prediction no.1... Jake’s role in a popular soap, combined with a likeable personality away from Walford, and his undoubted ability on the dance floor make him a guaranteed finalist.
Frankie too has a strong partner in Kevin from Grimsby, who is clearly a favourite with the show’s producers. She also comes across as genuine and likeable, and whether or not her background has helped from a technical point of view, she’s clearly used to performing in front of a live audience and last night’s Cha Cha Cha was undeniably a great show opener - great costume too, by the way. Prediction no.2... another nailed-on finalist.
As far as ability is concerned, the only two other potential winners are Caroline Flack and Pixie Lott, but I’m honestly not sure about their popularity with the viewers. Caroline seems nice enough, and despite the stylists giving her increasingly bad hair days, she’s a very good dancer, who is likely to keep improving. I don’t know about Pixie though. She’s got all the physical attributes to do really well, but for reasons I can’t actually explain, I just feel she won’t have that public appeal (a bit like Natalie Gumede) and with a partner who’s new to the show, prediction no.3 is that Pixie will not win series 12.
But what about the other end of the leader board? Well ironically, Judy’s comedy fall in the opening moments of her tango will surely save her for another week, and Simon’s performance probably scored well enough to offset his lack of popularity. The cynic in me reckons that Alison’s personality is considered a positive for the show, because she seems to be getting marked in a different way to most of the other dancers – she’ll be safe. Sunetra and Thom keep improving; nice people too... both safe. Steve seems to be flying under the radar at the moment and should survive as well.
All of which leaves the equally dire Scott and Tim, and Mark Wright, whose not the worst dancer, but whose personality (like Simon, and to a lesser extent Alison) really irritates me, and if the viewing audience are equally turned off, Mark could be in a bit of trouble this week. Much will depend on whether Scott continues to get the sympathy (or comedy) vote and if he and Tim were in the dance-off, I honestly wouldn’t have a clue who’d be voted off.
The next worst dancer is Judy, but as I said before, I don’t think she’ll be in the bottom two. The fall overshadowed a slightly improved performance (and granted, it’s all relative) and whether you agree or not, there’s also the Anton factor too. So overall, one of Scott and Tim must be in the bottom two. Toss of a coin if they both are, but if one is pitched against someone like Mark (and I wouldn’t be shocked), or maybe Steve (and I would be surprised), then the duffer will go.
Prediction no.4... heads it’s Tim, tails it’s Scott. If the coin lands on its side, I’ll say Mark...
One final comment about last night. Is it just me, or are the judges (Craig apart) becoming ever so slightly boring. Len seems to tell every dancer “yer came ahht” and did so-and-so, before saying something vaguely inflammatory to get a reaction from the studio audience. Bruno waves his arms all over, tries and fails to pull some sort of seductive face then says “no, but eet’s true...”, and Darcey... well she somehow sees improvement when the rest of the country can’t, and she has perfected the disdainful look at Craig whenever his mark is lower than hers...
It’s just me isn’t it?!