Ash to Ashes?

Oct 24, 2013 by

Ash to Ashes?

There are 2 clear trends emerging in this season of Strictly. One: the lengths they are going to to keep a lid on Ashley’s public vote. And two: the judges’ eagerness to big up Sophie.

Ashley’s VW last week could have been receiving 8s and 9s on a level playing field but instead they nit-picked and focused on what he did wrong, scoring him 31. It was the same the week before following his excellent samba and another comparatively miserly score of 31.

Sophie received the same 31 that week for a far inferior samba. First up last Saturday performing the foxtrot, she did a reasonable job yet surprisingly received a massive 35 for it. Sophie has the CCC this week and our guess is, she will be over-scored again.

Ben put in a couple of impressive lifts during a salsa completely lacking salsa content and the judges raved about him and awarded him a generous 31. Patrick did a reasonable CCC that they also raved about and awarded a similarly generous 33 for.

What we can only postulate is, while Ashley is undoubtedly the strongest male dancer, they are trying to ensure that in the minds of viewers he is not perceived this way. TPTB are painting the picture of a dancer who is consistently failing to execute his routines well enough to join the big league, and combined with the ramping of both Ben and Patrick, the aim must be to deflate Ashley’s vote.

By continually marking Ashley down, this will also potentially give them more leeway to get rid of him when they manage to get him into the dance-off. And if they continue to ramp Ben and Patrick, it is not beyond the realms of possibility one or both of them outlast Ashley on the show.

Who knows, maybe this is part of the plan. Once Ashley is gone they can then get critical about Ben and Patrick, and as inferior dancers this will, in theory, be easier to do. They are certainly playing a dangerous game bigging up Ben because he is potentially even bigger catnip for middle England female voters than Ashley.

Ashley has the jive on Saturday and we make it an odds-on shot they will again focus on his routine’s flaws. Patrick looks like he is lined up for plenty of praise and another decent score performing the salsa. Ben has the QS and should score reasonably for that.

Rachel has the paso and should get a bounce after her bottom 2 appearance last week. Dave has a comedy salsa lined up which will see him anchored at the bottom of the leaderboard. We will stick our necks out now and predict he will avoid being in the dance-off.

That bottom 2 looks more likely to be between Fiona, Deborah and Mark this week. Fiona was last on the leaderboard last week with a disappointing rumba, yet she managed to overcome this, and a poor running order slot in 2, to escape the bottom 2.

She looks likely to produce something much better this week, dancing the QS with Anton. She is also due a later slot (last 2 weeks, 4/14 & 2/13) while Deborah (last 2 weeks, 14/14 & 8/13) should be on early so we will be betting against Fiona landing bottom 2 this week.

The suggestion, like last week, has to be Deborah to land bottom 2. She has a VW which she may well perform adequately, but even if she finds herself a place above Fiona on the leaderboard, our money would be on Deborah receiving a lower public vote which would put her in big jeopardy of the dance-off. So the advice is to take the 6-4 Deborah to be in the bottom 2 with Ladbrokes, and 7-2 she is eliminated.

Mark looks vulnerable of a bottom 2 appearance in a week when he will attempt a serious waltz, especially if he is on early and is only picking up 7s for it. The assumption is, he has probably built enough good will (much like Dave) for his fun routines like last week’s MC Hammer-inspired CCC to see him safe.

Regarding Top Male betting, you have to start to wonder whether Ashley merits being a best-priced 2-7 shot given the knives are so clearly out for him. Patrick certainly looks worth a speculative investment at 18-1 with Betfred based on the logic that if they can get shot of Ashley they will most likely be gunning to get rid of Ben next, on the assumption Ben would then be perceived as the biggest threat to a female winner this year. After Saturday there could also be a window to lay Patrick much lower than 18-1 for Top Male on Betfair giving you a free bet.

What is your take on the comparative treatment of Ashley and Sophie in this series? Will Ashley be eliminated before the final? Is Sophie a worthy 7-4 favourite?

Here is this week’s full line-up:

Ashley & Ola – Jive to ‘Johnny B Goode’ by Chuck Berry.
Abbey & Alijaz – Foxtrot to Olly Murs’ ‘Dear Darlin’.
Patrick & Anya – Salsa to ‘Wings’ by Little Mix.
Rachel & Pasha – Paso Doble to ‘Maneater’ by Nelly Furtado.
Fiona & Anton – Quickstep to ‘If My Friends Could See Me Now’ by Sammy Davis Junior.
Dave & Karen – Salsa to ‘Cuban Pete’ by Jim Carrey.
Deborah & Robin – Viennese Waltz to James Brown’s ‘It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World’.
Sophie & Brendan – Cha Cha Cha to Michael Jackson’s ‘PYT’.
Mark & Iveta – Waltz to ‘Apologize’ by OneRepublic .
Susanna & Kevin – American Smooth to Tony Bennett’s ‘Sunny Side of The Street’.
Ben & Kristina – Quickstep to ‘I’ll Be There For You’ by The Rembrandts.
Natalie & Artem – Samba to the Gypsy King’s ‘Bomboleo’.


  1. I’m inclined to think that Patrick might be in danger once again. He hasn’t polled well at all and even after his two best weeks in the competition, his Youtube stats don’t illustrate someone with oodles of public love in the bank.

    Patrick’s training footage tonight looked scrappy and I’m worried how he’ll be perceived when compared against Dave’s comedy shtick. And even though Natalie is doing the Samba, I think her party motif might overshadow the duller of the party dances.

    It’s also likely that Patrick will be placed early in the running order having been gifted a favourable slot last week.

    I reckon Debs is capable of pulling off a late 20s score, whereas Patrick is due some ‘honest’ marking. Anything around 24 would see him in danger, especially if they put Ben later in the running order.

    As for Fiona, she also looks scrappy and her quickstep will either go horribly wrong or just scrape through. I do worry about her support – she was lucky to escape last week and it seems like Anton might be attracting more votes than her.

    I read somewhere than the Salsa and Paso are the biggest ‘killer’ dances. Rachel’s training footage also lacked spark, so if she’s sandwiched or put early in the running order, I might oppose a sympathy bounce.

    As for Mark, he’s technically very good, which might boost his score sufficiently to escape the bottom 2 in a week he’s playing it straight. I reckon he outscores Patrick and gets 26-28pts.

  2. Rob

    It’s a tricky week. Patrick certainly wasn’t sounding so confident tonight but he has looked far more adept at the fast Latin & I expect the judges will talk him up again and over-score him even if it is a bit rough round the edges. Certainly if it goes awry & he is 28 or lower, he’ll be in trouble.

    Fiona never sounds confident but Anton is the ballroom king & she has it in her to pull off something decent. They are a perfect fit with the voting audience too.

    There could well be plenty of ties in the 28-30 range. Whoever is on early out of Deborah, Patrick, Mark and Fiona will certainly look more vulnerable.

    They may try to further boost Rachel with a late slot & you would expect them to leave Dave’s comedy salsa until the later slots too.

  3. hemsby

    Thanks for the article Rob.

    A difficult week for sure.Apart from Dave almost certainly being bottom,predicting the judges marks table for the lesser dancers is quite difficult.I also think estimating certain PV’s isn’t straight forward either.

    As such I think a speculative stab at Dave being eliminated at 13/2 isn’t a bad play.Books are very wise as to duffers surviving longer than their talent warrants,however perhaps the price is slightly too big?

    If as expected he’s bottom of the marks table,should there be few ties,he will need to have a PV of perhaps 6th or above to be safe.In all probability he’ll get that,but at 13/2 I’m willing to chance he doesn’t.In his favour is that Mark is playing it straight,but his dancing has improved a touch,and maybe it won’t be as “funny” as his earlier attempts.

  4. Rob

    That’s fair enough, hems, & I’ll be hearing alarm bells if they put Dave on very early. My assumption is the choreo will be another vote-winning triumph by Karen.

    I guess something else to consider is whether Craig will be fit enough to be on the panel this week. He would be guaranteed to give Dave a mauling which helps his pv; if he’s not there, that might not bode well for Dave’s survival chances.

    Training footage:

  5. Guildo Horn Forever

    Hi Rob,

    I think Fiona could again be in trouble this week. Each week, the judges point out that if only she could out the mistakes she would be fine.

    I’m reminded of similar comments I’ve heard about leaky football team defences over the years – if it weren’t for their ‘lapses of concentration’ etc (as though these aren’t symptomatic of deeper problems.)

    One footwork mistake could lead to a domino effect of Fiona having an absolute mare. However, the TP of 4/5 doesn’t excite me.

    The 7/2 for Deborah to be eliminated probably is the value punt but the trouble with this for me is that I kinda like her!

    Couldn’t agree more about ‘the knives’ being out for Ash.

  6. Rob

    Hi Guildo,
    Yep, certainly if Fiona puts in a lot of foot faults and scores poorly she will be in trouble but at the odds think it’s worth putting faith in her getting it right this week, hopefully bolstered by a late slot in the running order which she is due.

    Anton, aka Tony Beak, is a real vote magnet with middle England ‘ladies who lunch’ & Fiona is the perfect foil in that you can imagine her being well liked by the same Daily Telegraph-reading Home Counties older female voter too.

  7. fiveleaves

    Excellent article as always Rob
    As others have said, it looks a very tricky week.
    They all have dances that should suit.
    Given that Ashley @ 25/1 for B2 might not be a crazy bet, if he’s just below halfway, with some ties at the bottom and the viewers assume he’s safe.

  8. Rob

    Hmm…? Sounds like Patrick will not be able to pull off any decent moves in his salsa & will be severely hamstrung by his hand injury.

    Will this equate to a big sympathy vote? I’m inclined to think it will. They surely won’t want to be judging him in the dance-off & sending him on his way.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      There are conflicting reports on how Patrick collected his wrist injury, but if this story accurately attends:

      then, imo, the mishap is Anya’s fault.

      I’ve read elsewhere that Patrick has been wearing knee joints because of strains and pains he brought on while training for the jive, back in week 1.

      The decision to go rollerblading (rather than the milder rollerskating) was thus reckless. The strain on the stabaliser muscles in the feet, ankles and knees is best avoided if you have problem knee joints while competing in a dance competition. Daft.

      Still, I hope that the cameras where there to capture the fall. Casualty’s Ash having to go to a real-life hospital makes for a sympathetically ironic story. He needs the boost to his profile, an interesting mid-ground storyline.

      I’ve commented elsewhere, and theorised upon, the number of the recent spate of hospital visits reality show contestants. The trend continues.

      Also, have to agree with you, Rob, that there are some knock-out prices on the top scorer this weekend. Might take the plunge. In contrast, I’ve only nibbled at the confusing XF markets this weekend.

  9. Rob

    As much as they have been pushing Sophie, hard to see her CCC top scoring. Value, at least before we know running order, has to be Abbey 6-1, Susanna 10s & Ashley 10s with Coral.

    Obviously they have under-scored Ashley to date but in the hope they give him a reprieve for just 1 week, 10s looks big for what promises to be a very decent jive.

    Abbey’s foxtrot looks like it could be top notch & my idea of main highest scorer bet. Susanna & Ash to smaller stakes.

    Nat’s samba likely to be good but tough dance to score very highly in & same rules apply to last week’s analysis – they won’t want her top scoring every week, & looks worth opposing at 4-6.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      On a level playing field, 10/1 for Ash would be a wonderful price, but I do wonder if Strictly have painted themselves into a corner with their strategic and persistent downgrading of Ash.

      To suddenly mark him fairly (!), they would have to promote the idea that his dancing has suddenly took a great leap forward, to explain the upgrade in marks.

      I can imagine the judges’ comments tomorrow for his jive: ‘bit flat-footed in parts’, ‘you need to get up on your toes, darling’, ‘point your feet’, ‘kicks were lacking control and you lost time’ etc, etc.

      I thought Craig’s score of ‘7’ for Ashley’s American Smooth was petty enough, but last week’s combined ’31’ for his Viennese Waltz took the bleedin’ biscuit.

      Still, a reprieve for one week, and as you say, 10/1 could look a barmy price.

      Just caught ITT on catch-up. Patrick has confirmed he has an ‘inlamed dorsal capsule’ (of his right hand wrist). Anya confirmed even her touching his wrist is out of bounds and that Ash will essentially be dancing a ‘one-handed salsa’.

      Annoying, because I thought the 16/1 for Pat to top score would have been of interest.

      Mark Benton looks like he might struggle. Frankly, his travelling is ploddier than Ben’s.

      Guest-spotting 55 year old Anneka Rice shocked me: she’s looking hot!

      On ITT, the other day, I thought Natalie and Artem’s training room “struggles” hit new comedy heights when I swear Artem said something along the lines of how challenging it was for them to be doing counts and dancing at the same time!

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Hi Rob, further to the news about Patrick, do you think that the 20/1 for him to finish lowest scorer might be value?

      • Rob

        Hi Guildo. Like you, I was readying myself to pounce on over-priced quotes on Patrick to be highest scorer this week. His salsa initially looked like it had great potential & with him landing his 1st 9 last week, top scoring this week was not inconceivable.

        But now it sounds like he’s going to produce a lacklustre, down-sized routine so I think 20-1 is worth a speculative poke Patrick is the lowest scorer.

        Clearly Dave’s salsa is going to be scored poorly but given how Machiavellian they are getting:

        I can envisage a pre-show producers & judges meeting in which they discuss marking Patrick massively down & placing him last to ensure he gets the sympathy vote that jettisons him out of the dance-off, so they don’t have the awkward decision to make to boot him off the show after he lands in the dance-off.

        Over-scoring Dave & killing him with kindness might also give them a better chance of dragging Dave into the dance-off. That would be the case for taking the 20-1.

        They may also be thinking Patrick has now had it in terms of the rest of the series so they may not be overtly sympathetic. So I think 12-1 Patrick to be eliminated, & 5-1 Patrick to be bottom 2 also now look over-priced. It’s all about value 🙂

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Hi Rob,

      I think the prognosis for Patrick’s injury might be ok. On ITT, he was wearing a wrist protector sleeve thingy with built-in splints, and he’ll be on anti-inflams and ice packs.

      If he survives tonight and they give him ballroom dances for the next couple of weeks, that might be long enough for his wrist to recover?

      One positive thing about his injury is that it’s hi vis.

      It’s the most distinctive thing about him!

  10. Looking at those photos, I’ve taken Rachel highest scorer at 34.0 just because of value. The public might not like her, but I think the judges might reward a solid and passionate Paso.

    Also, as posted above, I’m concerned by Dave’s position. Elimination surely the value – if in bttm 2, they couldn’t possibly save him!

  11. Rob

    Looks like Sophie has the pimp slot. Would be amazed if she top scores on what we saw in training of her CCC.

    Certainly not ideal for Dave to have trap 2 if order correct, between Abbey & Nat. Deborah on early enough in 4 to be forgotten, Patrick will need sympathy treatment from 5… still think Dave is more likely to avoid b2 assuming his salsa is properly funny.

    Very tough for Abbey to top score from trap 1. Susanna at 12s to top score certainly looks big now based on this order (if it is correct).

    • ROB! Coral are offering e/w on highest scorer! That’s utter madness. That makes Susanna and Rachel massive value.

      • Rob

        That’s a great spot & almost looks too good to be true. Think a trip to local high st shop is in order 🙂

        • Anonymous

          Tried to get on this morning ot was Patrick bottom scorer, was told online only.

  12. Just doing a recce of the scores and considering who might attract PV. I have Patrick/Rachel bttm two. I thought Dave might be in the running but still think he gets 8 or 9 from PV.

    Rachel and Patrick are between 2-4 for me which puts them in bottom two for me. I reckon Rachel goes.

    Just a hunch though.

  13. Rob

    Not sure I could have called that much better pre-show. Fiona’s best dance. Tick. Dave’s salsa, comedy genius, should save him from b2. Tick
    Deb on early & forgettable. Tick.
    Nat worth taking on for highest score with Abbey, Ash & Susannah. Tick, tick. One dh winner, one ew landed.

    Looks to me like it’s Rachel, Patrick and Deborah in mix for b2. Rachel sympathy bounce might well get her above them both on pv. Will just be happy if Deborah is in there, & ideally Patrick too.

  14. Patrick & Deborah in bottom 2. The dragon has been extinguished.

    Spot on Rob, though glad I didn’t drift from Patrick. Rachel must have been close!

  15. Rob

    Wow. What a week. Hope all readers made hay on the recommendations advised here 🙂

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Took the 6/1 for Abbey to top score, but had a bet on Rachel to B2 – so am fairly happy; though am kicking myself for not doing Patrick for B2.

  16. Andy

    Thank You Rob
    Made a nice profit on Deborah Bottom 2.

    • Rob

      Thanks Andy 🙂 And glad to hear you turned a nice profit on Deborah 🙂

      • Andy

        You got to be in it to win it.
        Dumped on Miss D in x factor so had a v good night.
        I still cannot bring myself to touch Tamera in the outright market.

  17. Boki

    Great calls Rob, it’s difficult for me to get any decent bottom 2 odds but managed to recover last week loss on Deborah with this Deborah elimination.

    • Rob

      Well done Boki. Good to hear from you again 🙂

      • Boki

        Let’s say I enjoy lurking in here 🙂
        Btw, looking forward to further top man developments in the coming weeks since I took some of Ben.

        • Rob

          Ben has a fighting chance, Boki, given the way they are not allowing Ashley the chance to gain any sort of momentum. Obviously the 18-1 Patrick was flagged up here prior to his injury. Without the injury his salsa looked like it would be getting 8s & 9s.

  18. Andy

    Big Betfair 2k lay just gone down on Sophie @ 7/2.

    • Rob

      Wow! Good spot, Andy. Her price has drifted big time. I read a Tweet by her this morning saying she will not win Strictly.

      I think she is going to continue to struggle in the fast Latins. It’s whether she can be smuggled through to the final & a reprise of that Charleston.

    • Rob

      I misinterpreted slightly. This was the Tweet:

      Sophie Ellis-Bextor ‏@SophieEB 14h

      Not sure I’ll make it to SCD final, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be finding remnants of last night’s glitter make up about my person until then.

    • Rob

      It’s a guy trying to lay who has a massive green on Sophie.

      • Andy

        I am leaning towards Sophie for the win Rob.
        Natalie coming in for the same treatment as DVO and Matt L in the press comments.
        Just used that lay to send her Green.
        I did take a little bit of Ladbrokes 12/1 EW for Sophie so would be happy with a place.

        • Andy

          My stakes are small Rob.

        • Rob

          I jumped aboard too after seeing her Charleston in training – Outright e/w & Top Female. I am concerned her fast Latin dances might continue to expose her. But if she makes the final, she’d be in the box seat with that Charleston to reprise.

          Abbey has made my Outright book. Backed her heavily around the 16s mark, then able to lay off when her price dropped to 4.5.

  19. Rob

    This week’s dances & songs (and Natalie still in, & fit, it would appear, despite alarming drift on her earlier today on BF, matched as big as 20).

    Ashley and Ola will be performing the Tango to Ne-Yo’s ‘Beautiful Monster’

    Patrick and Anya will be Quickstepping to ‘Man With the Hex’ by Atomic Fireballs

    Abbey and Aljaz will Rumba to ‘Stay’ by Shakespeare’s Sister.

    Rachel and Pasha will dance the American Waltz to ‘I Put a Spell on You’ by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.

    Dave and Karen will be Jiving to Bobby Boris Picket’s ‘Monster Mash’.

    Fiona and Anton will perform the Charleston to Al Donahue’s ‘Jeepers Creepers’.

    Sophie and Brendan Jive to ‘Maneater’ by Hall and Oates.

    Mark and Iveta will perform the Paso Doble to Sarah Brightman’s ‘I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper’

    Susanna and Kevin will Charleston to Creedance Clearwater Revival’s ‘Bad Moon Rising’.

    Ben and Kristina will dance the Paso Doble to Muse’s ‘Supermassive Black Hole’.

    Natalie and Artem will perform the Viennese Waltz to Natalie Duncan’s ‘Devil In Me’.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Find myself already looking forward to Mark and Iveta’s performance.

      Dave was born for his song choice.

      Can imagine that Abbey and Aljaz’s rumba will be a stylistic triumph set to the slow, building epic goth of ‘Stay’. They both have the lean, hungry modelesque ‘True Blood’ look…even before the make-up has been applied.

      And given what Sophie will be wearing for her performance, hers might be memorable too!

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        One early thought on this week’s elimination market is: that it features a false favourite?

        • Yeah I’ve been trying to lay Fiona to no avail. Not many biters! I’m slightly concerned by her sprained ankle, so will now hold back until more footage is released.

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