Ash To Get Burnt?

Nov 28, 2013 by

Ash To Get Burnt?

This is going to be a telling week on Strictly regarding whether the show has evolved into taking a proper leaf out of the book of the world leader in reality tv dark arts, Syco.

Manoeuvring Ben into last place on the leaderboard, on reflection, can be viewed as a masterstroke in getting him into the dance-off vs Mark last week. Not only that, but scoring him less than Mark gave the judges a valid reason to vote Ben off the show.

A score of 27 for Ben’s Charleston looked ridiculously harsh given the content of the dance, the timing involved, and the fleet-footed skills Ben showcased. Darcey, meanwhile, ludicrously awarded Mark an 8 for a fairly pedestrian foxtrot. It now appears Craig has the role of giving the judging panel a veneer of credibility whereas the other 3 are singing from a different hymn sheet.

It looks significant they kicked Ben off the show at the first opportunity, possibly signalling their intent for the remainder of the series, and trying to pick off the one remaining threat to a female winner this year – the (in theory) middle England female vote magnet that is Ashley.

Ashley has rumba this week and a prime opportunity looks to exist for the judges to score him harshly and put him in the danger zone towards the bottom of the leaderboard. Of course, they will need to tread a fine line because if they properly get stuck into him, this will be accompanied by the loud boos of the studio audience and could lead to a bigger Ashley vote.

Ashley is due a ballroom next week, likely to be foxtrot, so it could well be a lot trickier to steer him into the bottom 2 next week compared to this. The dilemma they face, of course, is Mark still being on the show and looking destined for the bottom 2 for the 4th week running. Mark has samba which offers a window to be highly entertaining, if nothing else.

Might the show actively push for Mark to avoid the bottom 2 this week? If they are truly Machiavellian, this might well be in their thoughts because it would surely suit them better to guide Ashley into the bottom 2 against someone other than Mark. Assuming a low score for Ashley’s rumba, that someone would have a higher score on the leaderboard and thus there would be no controversy saving them over Ashley.

Keeping Mark in for one more week would be handy too from the point of view of giving the show some nice leeway the following week when they can boot Mark off and happily guide their favoured five into the semi-final, with Mark’s fellow bottom 2-er teed up for a bounce in the semi-final.

So what score might Ashley’s rumba feasibly receive? Ben’s rumba scored 28 in week 3 and that might well be the highest he can hope for if they have him in their sights this week. Susanna’s entertaining samba received 29 in week 4, so it is possible to envisage a scenario where they might even, Ben-style, cleverly position Ashley below Mark on the leaderboard, which would give them a fairness angle in saving Mark if it does end up Mark vs Ashley in the dance-off. But that does seem unlikely.

If we hear Len imploring the audience to vote for Mark, outside of Ashley, Abbey looks the most vulnerable pre-show as she has the tricky salsa to negotiate. Given her improvement over the course of the series, it is likely she will produce a decent enough effort, and you would have to assume that Craig apart, the other judges will be generous in their scoring of her.

Sophie, Susanna, Natalie and Patrick all look to have the opportunity for high scoring dances in the VW, QS, AS and Charleston respectively. Patrick would again come into the bottom 2 equation if falling below these 3 but he could be closer to top spot on the leaderboard if we are to believe Ian Waite’s glowing appraisal of how well his routine is shaping up in training.

It still remains open to question just how clever and manipulative TPTB are at the Beeb when it comes to the running order, the way the judges choose to play it with their post-dance critiques, and the ordering of contestants on the judges’ leaderboard. But given all of the above, the value call has to be to back Ashley to be eliminated at 20-1, and to be in the bottom 2 at 5-1. There may also be some value in laying Mark for bottom 2 at anything close to 1-7 on Betfair.

This is a very cheap lay that could easily pay off if it is in the script to give Mark a stay of execution. We should know a little bit more regarding this possibility when the running order drops on Saturday afternoon and whether he has a late or an early slot.

The plan here will be to also back Abbey to be bottom 2 at 2-1 because if Ashley’s public vote is robust enough to push him clear of the bottom 2 – and he might inherit some votes from former Ben supporters – it could well be Abbey who drops into the bottom 2 alongside Mark.

The Coral highest/lowest scorer markets had not been issued at time of writing. Keep an eye on Comments below for the advice on those if and when they appear.

It’s certainly another fascinating week. Here is the full list of dances and songs:

Natalie & Artem – American Smooth to ‘I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’ from Dreamgirls.
Susanna & Kevin – Quickstep to ‘Good Morning’ from Singin’ In The Rain.
Abbey & Aljaz – salsa to ‘You Should Be Dancing’ by the Bee Gees from Saturday Night Fever.
Patrick & Anya – Charleston to the Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang theme.
Sophie & Brendan – Viennese Waltz to ‘My Favourite Things’ from The Sound Of Music.
Ashley & Ola – rumba to ‘A Whole New World’ from Aladdin.
Mark & Iveta – samba to ‘I Just Can’t Wait To Be King’ from The Lion King.


  1. Nice thinking, Rob.

    Ola said earlier this week that their Rumba would be ‘clean’, so in terms fairness and balance, surely Ashley/Ola will be marked against the same criteria as Sophie/Brendan?

    The training room footage look good for Ashley, but like you, I feel TPTB are softening him up for a big fall.

    I was heartened to hear Ian’s assessment of Patrick’s Charleston, I’m just waiting to pile on once Coral’s markets open.

    Do you still think there’s much love for Sophie? I’m torn between Abbey and Sophie; Abbey has had more wow moments and Sophie is still living on her Charleston credit. I’m intrigued to know how the public feel about Abbey/Aljaz, especially with the weight of the show behind them as the couple with the most chemistry.

    Abbey was on 5-live breakfast this morning BTW.

    • Rob

      I’m not convinced regarding Sophie’s vote appeal, Gav – I think it is being over-estimated due to the fanaticism of DS posters. That Charleston seems a very long time ago now & she just seems too cold & aloof to be fully embraced by Strictly viewers.

      Sophie has been helped by the clever live show posturing of Brendan, who in previous weeks has made viewers think she has been hard done by.

      I still think Abbey has been coming across well on the show & has possibly built a decent following since her bottom 2 appearance. She is mirroring Kimberley’s progress last year who, of course, made the final.

      Abbey is the stronger dancer than Sophie but if they do end up meeting each other in a dance-off it could come down to who has the easier, higher scoring routine.

      In the semi-final they will perform 2 dances – one ballroom, one Latin. It could well be whichever one gets to do ballroom in the dance-off who goes through.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Hi Rob, we seem to have very close ideas on the likely outcome of this weekend’s show (I posted elsewhere), but for that I don’t see how they could justify saving Ashley over Mark. It’s too blatant, and too blatant for SCD. Though the 20/1 odds are mighty tempting, I admit.

        I also don’t see how Mark can avoid B2. He’s doing a Samba. Dance content and style wise, he’ll surely struggle and we’re at the business endgame of the series, now. They really can’t justify keeping him in yet again.

        I think ‘the bounce’ happens this week. And perhaps it may be Sophie who drops into B2 with Mark, (with Mark eliminated).

        Next week, I could well imagine Ashley B2 (possibly up against Patrick).

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Only just spotted that Sophie will be performing a Viennese Waltz – which will suit her beautifully. Having second thoughts now about her being B2 material.

          Extra random point: I absolutely adore the song-and-dance number Good Morning, and so definitely does Darcey (high score from her on the cards?). I remember watching a Christmas special in which she learnt dance numbers from the musicals. I recall she had right trouble with the mounting and descent of the settee.

          Ah! Here it is…

          She’s no Debbie Reynolds – but then who is?


          • Rob

            Good find with that Darcey clip, Guildo. It goes to show how viewer-friendly Susanna’s QS should be.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Bit the bullet and took the 20/1 (while still available) on Ashley being eliminated; I’d kick myself if he went and I hadn’t a bet down on him.

        He is the only competitor you could possibly imagine being voted out in a dance-off with Mark.

        The next question would be: does the lowest score market merit an equal consideration…?

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Hi Gav,

      Highest Score markets are up.

      Looking at Patrick’s odds leads me to conclude the Coral reality oddsmaker/trader has this site bookmarked!

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        I would say that the 4/5 for Natalie looks a good price but for that the number of tied scores at the upper echelons of the leader-board are worrisome.

        My impulse is that Susanna and Abbey look a fraction big to these eyes (though which have seen no training footage this week).

        • Rob

          Agree with this, Guildo. Both Abbey (12-1) & Susanna (10-1) value at the odds e/w.

          Looks like Patrick on 1st tonight too so top scoring from 1 slot will be tough for him.

          • I wonder if Strictly’s tactic is to send out their ‘targeted’ acts during the XFactor overlap. I know Strictly pounds XFactor in the ratings, and it’s usually XFactor we consider monitoring for the overlap, but as the number of contestants drops, maybe it could be more significant?

  2. zoomraker

    I think you might have a bit of an SEB blind spot Rob,
    it’s reminding me a bit of your stance on Ukrain in the eurovis

    • Rob

      There is no blind spot, zoom. I have maintained all along, if she makes the final, with her Charleston to reprise, she has a good chance.

      I have big greens on all the remaining contestants having backed Sophie at 12-1 e/w on Outright ahead of her Charleston, and 7-1 for TF, and the same goes for Susanna and Abbey, and also have 14s on Nat having flagged up Artem as the value to be this series’ winning pro on here back in August. And obviously Patrick for TM at 18s as a cover for Ashley TM, backed pre-series.

      I think there has been more of a group think on forums over-estimating Sophie’s dance ability and winning chance in this series. The criticism for her rumba was a vote motivator for sure but I struggle to see how she has more viewer appeal than someone like Susanna.

      I also think she will be in massive danger over the next 2 weeks if she falls into a dance-off up against either Abbey or Patrick.

      I respected Ukraine’s chance too and said it wasn’t a song to be red on heading into the final.

  3. Rob

    On the assumption they will get a fast Latin dance, there looks to be some value in Ricky Norwood’s price to win the Strictly Christmas Special at 11-4 with PP & WH.

    The winning couple is chosen by studio audience vote but every winner has either been judges’ top scorer or joint top-scorer every year bar 2004.

    3 jive winners inc. 2 in the last 2 years; 2 quickstep winners; 2 American Smooth winners.

    It is being recorded on Monday night. The case for Ricky Norwood is his dance background, pocket rocket Janet specialises in fast Latin, and their routine should be a top scoring dance and a real crowd-pleaser. Being an Eastenders actor shouldn’t inconvenience him either:

    From photos it looks like American Smooth for Matt Goss & Aliona. Rochelle likely to have an elegant ballroom with Ian Waite. Pairings:

    Rochelle and Ian
    Sara and Robin
    Elaine and Pasha
    Matt and Aliona
    Ricky and Janette
    Rufus and Flavia

  4. zoomraker

    Aled Jones wants Sophie to win.

    People who like Aled Jones are the exact match of the middle england mature female strictly voting demographic.

    Aled Jones is psychically linked to his fans and is effectively channeling their views.

    Game Over Sophie has won.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      That’s an enormous amount of faith you’re placing in one single celebrity endorsement, zoomraker.

      How to quantify the power of Aled Jones#s ability to effect people to vote for SEB on SCD is a tough one?

      People who like Aled Jones may be an ‘exact match of the middle england mature female strictly voting demographic’. I see what you mean by this.

      But might you be as likely to infer from this information that the middle england mature female strictly voting demographic like well-spoken white males? You could infer from their like of Aled that they are most likely to like Ashley Taylor Dawson on SCD.

      Aled might be a guy who likes pencil-slim women. That by no means translates as mature females liking pencil-slim women.
      I should venture that mature females are most likely to respond to a woman whom they feel they can relate to, and who they would quite like to be like.

      Sophie is a very likeable girl; and Susanna is a very likeable woman.

      • zoomraker

        it wasn’t completely serious Guido but my argument was that Aled would subconcsiously reflect the likes of his fanbase as being in tune with his fans is in the interests of his career.

        Wasn’t arguing that he would influence his fans.

  5. Rob

    Highest/lowest score markets available with Coral.

    A small investment in Ashley at 20-1 too big to pass up for lowest scorer.

    As for highest, was hoping for a bigger price on Patrick. Think 7-2 is a bit miserly as Patrick had the pimp slot last week so he might be due an early slot which invariably means highest score is difficult to achieve.

    Abbey’s salsa is looking very promising, with a great song, & given the protection they may afford her, she looks worth an e/w bet at 12-1.

    Out of interest, did anyone partake of the 33-1 e/w Ashley last week for highest scorer, & get paid out at 33-1 – 11-1 for a place?

    Someone has been in touch to say he has a dispute as he had 33-1 written on the slip but when he went to collect Coral in-shop staffer insisted the price was wrong & would only pay out at 20-1.

    Any feedback much appreciated. Thanks.

    • Not much value on for this week’s highest score market, Rob and left Patrick alone – odds were far too tight when there might be a dead heat.

      I also took that 21.0 on Ash to be bottom two. If the show’s narrative is as we expect, 21 is far too high.

      This week will be telling!

      As for the shop punter, surely they check odds before accepting the bet? 20/1 is better than nothing, but it’s worth a strongly worded complaint to Coral and IBAS first.

  6. Rob

    R.O. looking like:


    Suggests 10-1 e/w Susanna for top score is a big price & worth chancing.

    • Not whether you’re one for patterns Rob, but checking Wiki, this RO suggests a Mark/Abbey bttm 2.

      • Rob

        Not so much, Gav. So much more about who ‘entertains’ and what the judges say/score.

        In theory, Abbey has a highly entertaining salsa. Patrick will be vulnerable of b2 if he is not scored highly.

  7. Rob

    Chuffed with another highest scorer bet landed on Abbey. Nat in big trouble of b2 tonight. Got some 6s with Ladbrokes.

    • Surprised it was 40pts though! She must be low in the vote and very high on the producer’s list to make the final.

      Also thinking Natalie, but couldn’t get on quick enough. Still think Ash might be in trouble – thought his performance was forgettable.

  8. Ash vs Mark. Mark gone. TPTB missed their opportunity there.

  9. Rob

    Another good week. Abbey 12-1 highest scorer; 5-1 Ash b2.

    They did miss a trick, Gav, but they have more scruples than Syco.

    Next week’s song choices going to be key.

    This is what I think they each have left:


    Charleston – Ashley
Rumba – Patrick, Susanna
Jive – Natalie

    Salsa – Ashley, Natalie, Sophie, Susanna 

    Samba – Abbey, Ben

    Paso Doble – Natalie, Patrick, Sophie


    American Smooth – Abbey, Sophie
Argentine Tango – Abbey, Ashley, Natalie, Patrick, Susanna 
Foxtrot – Ashley, Natalie, Susanna
Tango – Sophie 

    Waltz – Patrick 

    Viennese Waltz – Abbey

    Looks tricky for both Sophie & Susanna as they are both due Latins, so salsa or paso for Sophie; rumba or salsa for Susanna.

    Patrick, Abbey, Ashley should all have ballroom. Natalie Latin. Be interesting to see if they allow Nat the chance to dance jive which she was due to dance the week she missed.

    • I’ve had a nibble at Ash next elimination due to him doing Salsa this week.

      Got my eye on Abbey now – she’s doing VW. Momentum!

  10. Rob

    Rufus Hound apparently won the Christmas Special which is disappointing news if you followed us in on Ricky Norwood.

    Can only think Flavia injected some comedy into their tango & the crowd loved it, or maybe Rufus was surprisingly good.

  11. Rob

    Ashley – salsa
    Nat – paso doble
    Abbey – VW
    Sophie – tango
    Susanna – ?
    Patrick – ?

    Interesting they have given Sophie 2 ballrooms in succession and Ashley 2 Latins in succession.

    Will Susanna be given 2 ballrooms in succession too? If so, it’s likely to be foxtrot.

    If Ashley gets through this week, it means he will have Charleston as one of his 2 semi-final dances.

    If Sophie gets through this week, she will have American Smooth as one of her 2 semi-final dances.

    If Abbey gets through this week, she will have samba as one of her 2 semi-final dances.

  12. Rob

    Some interesting song choices…

    Ashley and Ola are going to Salsa to Gloria Estefan’s party tune ‘Conga’.

    Patrick and Anya will Rumba to ‘When I Was Your Man’ by Bruno Mars.

    Abbey and Aljaz are going to perform a Viennese Waltz to the Tom Jones classic ‘Delilha’.

    Sophie and Brendan will Tango to Madonna’s ‘Material Girl’.

    Susanna and Kevin will perform the Argentine Tango to Michael Jackson’s ‘Smooth Criminal’.

    Natalie and Artem are going to perform the Paso Doble to ‘El Gato Montes’ by Ramon Cortez Pasodoble Orchestra.

    • Do you think Sophie is the target here? Two Tangos, OK one AT, but surely one might cancel out the other?

      I’d say Ashley might be down to open the show with that Salsa.

      Ashley/Sophie early plays for me.

      • Rob

        It seems a particularly odd song choice for Sophie’s tango. Mind you, I’m not sure Susanna’s song is that much better for an AT.

        Ash could well be the show-opener but it could be a real crowd-pleaser of a routine.

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