Can Gregg Escape?

Sep 30, 2014 by

Can Gregg Escape?

This is already shaping up to be one of the trickier series of Strictly. As expected, Frankie, Pixie and Caroline all showed they have the ability to make the business end of the competition. The same applies to Simon whereas Thom put in a somewhat disappointing waltz and looks far from the finished product.

This can be read two ways: it potentially tees him up for improvement as the series progresses, or he continues to stall and fall short of the required standard. It’s certainly too early days to be writing Thom’s obituary and we need to see how he copes with a fast Latin number before assessing his position in the pecking order, and we will get to see him perform a salsa on Saturday.

Simon already has the look of this year’s outstanding dancer. And it is pretty much a rule the outstanding dancer makes the Strictly final. Many would argue Natalie was the best dancer last year and she probably finished 3rd. Denise van Outen was arguably best in 2012 and she probably finished 2nd. In series 7, Ricky Whittle was best but he got beaten by middle England behemoth, Chris Hollins.

Mark Wright shaped up well and looks like he may well form an endearing partnership with Karen. He looks another contender it would be dangerous to dismiss. But can his cheeky chappy Essex boy persona win over Strictly’s viewers or will it go down as badly as a bottle of Blue Nun?

The quandary with the front 6 in the market is they all look to have potential limitations in terms of charming middle England. A butterfly tattoo on Caroline’s back may seem an absurdly trifling detail to bring up but I consider this a potential vote loser in terms of Strictly’s conservative voting demographic. Dani Harmer had various tattoos. It is my view they didn’t help her come the final push for votes.

Simon and Thom need to be careful not to come across as too vain or arrogant, and are they going to fall short in the personality stakes? Frankie and Pixie both seem rather bland too, and Frankie’s first dance, while competent, reminded me of past contestant Rachel Stevens in being rather soulless.

Is there anyone outside the front 6 in the market we would be keen to back at this point? No, is the simple answer but having advised a back of Steve pre-series it was at least promising to see him show a degree of potential.

In the battle of the tangos the judges decided Jake’s was better than Steve’s (28 awarded to Jake, 26 awarded to Steve). This was surprising as Steve showed much more attack and his routine with Ola possessed real drama while to my eyes Jake didn’t move with any feel for the music whatsoever and was rather stompy in his movement.

In terms of series-long potential, we need to see them both attempt fast Latin routines and slower ballrooms that require greater control and grace than tango but it is promising to see how much Steve has improved since the opening group dance, and he certainly has likability on his side.

The plaudits for Alison seemed rather OTT. It didn’t strike me as that good a cha cha cha, and she does not appear to be as naturally gifted a dancer as, say, Lisa Riley who finished 5th a couple of series back. Is it a rule now on Strictly that the larger female in the cast MUST receive good comments and be talked up?

News that Gregg has a Charleston will come as a concern to those (like me) who backed him at 4-1 to be first eliminated. It offers the window for something fun and vote-winning. Of course, it didn’t help Tony Jacklin last year but there could be a narrative to help save Gregg on Saturday especially given Aliona went out in week 1 last year. Alternatively, Gregg’s routine could end up being compared unfavourably with the Charleston Frankie will be performing. His running order position needs to be monitored if we get some re-con from the BBC Strictly website during rehearsals.

Scott is a very poor dancer indeed but you have to presume his Radio 1 audience will come to his rescue. Judy’s waltz was pretty forgettable. She has cha cha cha on Saturday which could prove more entertaining but can she be assured a decent vote? Probably enough to escape the bottom 2 aided by partisan Scottish voters and Anton’s fan base.

Will the Mrs Browns Boys fans be out in support of Jennifer? That’s not as clear cut. She has a waltz as does Tim, and waltz can be pretty forgettable which could put Tim in the mix for bottom 2 too. On balance, I think he and Natalie will have enough fans to escape the bottom 2 as they have formed a charming partnership.

Having backed Gregg at 4-1 to be the first elimination, I will be covering on Jennifer Gibney at 6-1. As far as the official portfolio of bets goes, I am adding Simon at 5-1 e/w with Ladbrokes as this looks a bet to nothing.

Official portfolio of recommendations:

Simon Webbe – 5pts e/w, 5-1 (a fifth the odds first 3), Ladbrokes

What we know so far:

30 – Frankie & Kevin – Charleston
28 – Jake & Janette – latin?
27 – Caroline & Pasha – tango
27 – Pixie & Trent – ballroom?
27 – Simon & Kristina – tango
26 – Steve & Ola – Cha-Cha-Cha
26 – Alison & Aljaz – foxtrot
24 – Mark & Karen – ballroom?
24 – Sunetra & Brendan – Cha-Cha-Cha
23 – Thom & Iveta – Salsa
18 – Tim & Natalie – Waltz
18 – Gregg & Aliona – Charleston
18 – Jennifer & Tristan – Waltz
18 – Judy & Anton – Cha-Cha-Cha
16 – Scott & Joanne – tango


  1. Rob

    Pixie & Trent: waltz

  2. Rob

    Mark & Karen: American Smooth

  3. Rob

    This week’s dances and songs in full:

    Alison and Aljaz will be performing the Foxtrot to ‘I Just Wanna Make Love To You’ by Etta James.

    Caroline and Pasha will be performing the Tango to ‘Blame’ by Calvin Harris and John Newman.

    Frankie and Kevin will be performing the Charleston to the Happy Days theme.

    Gregg and Aliona will be performing the Charleston to ‘Hey Good Looking’ by Ray Charles.

    Jake and Janette will be performing the Salsa to ‘Mambo No 5’ by Lou Bega.

    Jennifer and Tristan will be performing the Waltz to ‘Natural Woman’ by Aretha Franklin.

    Judy and Anton will be perfoming the Cha Cha to ‘She’s a Lady’ by Tom Jones.

    Mark and Karen will be performing the American Smooth to ‘I’m Yours’ by Jason Mraz!

    Pixie and Trent will be performing the Waltz to ‘Come Away With Me’ by Norah Jones.

    Scott and Joanne will be performing the Tango to ‘Stop!’ by the Spice Girls.

    Simon and Kristina will be performing the Tango to ‘Sing’ by Ed Sheeran.

    Steve and Ola will be performing the Cha Cha to ‘Treasure’ by Bruno Mars.

    Sunetra and Brendan will be performing the Cha Cha to “Million Dollar Bill” by Whitney Houston.

    Thom and Iveta will be performing the Salsa to ‘Hot Hot Hot’ by Arrow.

    Tim and Natalie will performing the Waltz to ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’.

  4. Guildo Horn Forever

    “Probably enough to escape the bottom 2 aided by partisan Scottish voters and Anton’s fan base.”
    Aye, that’s a mighty duo of vote blocs supporting Judy & Anton, no matter the performance standard.

    “Scott is a very poor dancer indeed but you have to presume his Radio 1 audience will come to his rescue.”
    Yep, and add to this the tele profile / following he will have built from co-presenting the Eurovision semis the last few years. There must be a huge overlapping bank of regular ESC and SCD viewers.

    I’ve no money down on him, but I do hope that odious ball Gregg goes. Just looking at him on SCD now, I can’t help thinking his dancing is lumpy and his arse looks like it should be sponsored by Greggs the Bakers.

  5. hemsby

    Thanks for the article Rob.

    Like you,I’ve backed Greg for first elimination at 4/1,however the training clip of his Charleston on ITT looked quite decent,so unfortunately I’m expecting him to leap up a few places on the LB.As a consequence I’ve covered on Jenny and Judy both at 6/1….their training clips looked decidedly awkward.

    I’m hoping for a further good display from Jake this week…the training clip looked promising and I still feel “snake hips” will bring home the Glitterball 😉

  6. Rob

    Yep, Gregg’s routine probably not going to be a car crash but there must still be a decent chance he will be b2 if the judges are kind with their comments but don’t go overboard & Gregg has an early slot in the r.o..

    Judy & Anton were on The One Show last night. They both came across well & this appearance will help boost their pv imho with a segment on Dunblane. Jennifer’s waltz didn’t look very good at all & I feel even stronger she is in b2 jeopardy.

    Sunetra could be in danger of a b2 appearance & might prove a decent b2 wager if we had odds. I can’t see her going though if she does fall into the b2 as it looks highly likely she would face a much weaker dancer in the dance-off.

  7. Tim B

    The person I envisage most struggling in the public vote is Tim – I just don’t see where his vote will come from at all. He also went second in the Friday night show, which suggests to me that the producers have no interest in him, and he was my first elimination play for this reason. At the prices I’m looking to take on Gregg, so I’ve added Jennifer. News that Gregg’s been given a charleston is encouraging to me. I’d be very surprised if anyone outside of the above three was eliminated. I can’t watch it this Saturday though, so won’t be able to trade anything in-play.

    • Rob

      Good luck Tim. Tim will certainly look vulnerable if he has another early slot in the running order. I think he’s well liked in terms of his BBC daytime persona and he and Natalie came across well in that 1st show.

  8. Guildo Horn Forever

    Just skim-watched the SCD shows. Was astonished at how quickly Scott’s stamina gave way. The first half of his cha-cha-cha was Johnny-on-the-spot yet halfway through the routine when required to move his feet it was like his legs had gone – he was moving like a man twice his age desperately seeking a chair. Name-dropped Robbie once too often and came across as a bit bland.

    Tim was a better traveller than Scott. From the hips down it would seem more likely that Tim was 40 and Scott was 61, rather than the other way around. The week Scott lands in the bottom 2 he’s probably toast against anyone.

    Really liked Tim, who looked like he belonged there; Scott looked oddly out of place.

    Didn’t like Gregg, it was painfully clear Aliona didn’t like him. This reveal from Gregg’s Telegraph blog won’t have helped the dance relationship: “I’ve been wearing tailored trousers to dance in, because they’re smart and fit me well. But one day Aliona introduced a section where she does the splits and I have to get low as well, and the trousers couldn’t take it. They split, and she laughed until she realised I wasn’t wearing underwear. I never do. She went, ‘I’ve been dancing with you for two weeks and this thing has been swinging around?!’ Now I wear pants when dancing, just for her.”

    For all his practising, Gregg’s a person who moves with zero grace his dipping his face into the cake Tess presented to him: just gross.

    This story won’t help him either:

    I didn’t know who Jennifer Gibney was but it was clear from how she took off her coat at the start of her routine that she was a person with no back flexibility, as she proved throughout the routine. She looked a fleet-footed mover for about 10 seconds until her stamina was spent. After that she could barely lift her legs. Her dance partner wildly overestimated her ability to complete a packed routine.

    God help Judy in a fast Latin number.

  9. Guildo Horn Forever

    Looking at betfair’s current 7/5 for Gregg to be eliminated is a strange one. Imo, I judge Scott, Gregg and Judy as the worst dancers, with Tim and Jennifer marginally better.

    Unsurprisingly, these 5 comprise the top 5 in the elim betting, 12/1 bar.

    Hard-practising Gregg stands a chance against any of them in surviving a dance off, so the 7/5 elim odds look plenty stingy.

    A question: Jennifer and her dance partner Tristan are both Irish, but do the Irish people get to vote in SCD?

  10. Guildo Horn Forever

    Tore myself away from Strictly study to spot that West Brom are an amazing 15/2 to win at Anfield on Saturday (Liverpool are with one firm a hideous 4/11 to win the match). Lumped on that 15/2 & will await the opening shows on the Strictly B2 market.

    A question, Rob: I notice you tipped up Steve Backshall pre-series at 16/1. You note the improvement he has already shown since the group dance and the cartwheel he performed last Saturday will probably have gone a good way to allaying your concerns over his series of operations on his 2 fractured vertabrae. His shoulders have proven a twitter sensation and he is super likeable. So: is the 20/1 he’s now available at possibly a bit of a value bet?

    • Rob

      I’m a little bit on the fence now regarding Steve’s chances, Guildo. He’s such a big guy I think the fast Latin numbers are going to be very tough for him.

      Ola is clearly working him very hard and Steve is putting in a lot of time in the training rooms. I think to stand any chance they are going to have to forge a really endearing partnership. Ola achieved this with Chris Hollins and Steve certainly comes across as very likeable, and he has the right sort of looks to prove a hit with Middle England female voters.

      I’d probably say best to hold off from backing him until after tomorrow’s cha cha cha as going on the training footage my guess is, it’s going to be a bit ropey.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        I was thinking and/or hoping that Steve’s upper body musculature might not extend down and through his legs but by the sounds of your impression of his training room footage: alas not.

        Simon Webbe was a surprising watch. Like Sophie Ellis B from last year there was no evidence from his pop music video career that excellent dancing would be on show. The man moves with the litheness of a jazz cat.

        He’s a bit introverted and boring, though, yeah? But is he Sophie losing-style introverted or winning-style Louis Smith introverted? Or is it rather the case that a good looking, excellent dancing male can afford to be shy?

  11. Rob

    Coral has week 2 highest scorer market up, ew first 3. Caroline looks fair value to me at 11-2.

    • Tim B

      Hi Rob, don’t you mean 7-1+ for Caroline highest scorer? 11-2 is her outright price.

  12. Guildo Horn Forever

    I thought by now one of the bookies would have raised their collective head above the parapet to offer odds on the bottom 2 market. A pitiful no-show.

    Wanted a bet on some tasty odds on Sunetra and on Thom in that category.

    Instead, have settled for a speculative punt on Scott at 15/2 to be eliminated.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      And adding Scott at 9/4 to be lowest scorer. Hoping for Craig to show him no mercy with the scoring again. He awarded him a 2 last week, didn’t he!?

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        On second thoughts, maybe the value is with Judy at 7/2 (Craig is adamant she has two left feet) or with Tim at 5/1 which seems a large price for a 61 year old antique dealer.

        • Rob

          I think lowest score is between Scott and Judy – Judy the value play at the odds (7-2).

  13. Rob

    Gregg out after dance-off with Jennifer. Actually thought in such a scenario they would save Gregg but unanimous in Jennifer’s favour apparently. Ended up having more on Jennifer but a decent winning start along with Judy for lowest score.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Thanks Rob – I took your advice and dutched Scott and Judy for bottom score. Nice call.

      I think it may have been difficult for Strictly to save Gregg against any female in a dance-off, given Gregg’s disparaging recent comments about the deficiencies of women presenters. He’s shot himself in the foot with the timing of those remarks; more so given the line of criticism ranged against the Tess & Claudia team fronting Strictly that I’ve been reading through in social media comments sections.

      • Rob

        Well done Guildo. I did think Jennifer got the ‘thrown under a bus treatment’ last night – 2nd in running order and they were very critical of her technique so could see how they might have decided to save Gregg. A shame no bottom 2 prices as I was convinced Jennifer would be bottom 2 after watching last night’s show.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Ooh! Extra thought about why the judges made the choice they did in the dance-off: was it as much about punishing outspoken Aliona as outspoken Gregg? (There was probably an element of this at play with the public, too.) Next series, I would be shy about backing whoever is paired with Aliona.

  14. Rob

    After his impressive salsa, I’m adding Jake Wood to the official portfolio of betting recommendations. There is some 5-1 still available but with very dubious, smaller firms who don’t generally lay you a decent bet, so I’ll add Jake at the widely available 9-2.

    Jake Wood – Outright – 9-2 (Ladbrokes, Betfred) – 8pt win

  15. Rob

    This week’s dances & songs:

    Alison and Aljaz will be Jiving back to the 80s as they rock out to Kenny Loggin’s ‘Footloose’ from the film of the same name.

    Caroline and Pasha will perform the Rumba to Aerosmith’s ‘I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing’ from 1998’s ‘Armageddon’.

    Frankie and Kevin will dance the Paso Doble to ‘America’ from the brilliant Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim musical ‘West Side Story’.

    Jake and Janette are Waltzing to the ‘Godfather Waltz’ by Nina Rota from the unforgettable mobster flick ‘The Godfather’.

    Jennifer and Tristan will perform the Foxtrot to Abba’s ‘Mamma Mia’ from the film of the same name.

    Judy and Anton will be Quickstepping to ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ originally sung by Barbra Streisand in the film ‘Funny Girl’.

    Mark and Karen are performing the Paso Doble to the John Williams penned theme from ‘Superman’.

    Pixie and Trent will Quickstep to ‘Be Our Guest’ from Disney’s enchanting ‘Beauty and the Beast’.

    Scott and Joanne will dance the Samba to ‘Under the Sea’ from another Disney classic ‘The Little Mermaid’.

    Simon and Kristina perform the Rumba to Berlin’s ‘Take My Breath Away’ from the film ‘Top Gun’.

    Steve and Ola will be Quickstepping to the joyous ‘I Wanna Be Like You’ from Disney’s ‘Jungle Book’.

    Sunetra and Brendan are performing the American Smooth to ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ originally sung by Fred Astaire in ‘Swing Time’.

    Tim and Natalie will be dancing the Charleston to ‘Money, Money’ from the Bob Fosse musical ‘Cabaret’.

    Thom and Iveta will also perform the Charleston to ‘New York, New York’ from the soundtrack of the Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra musical ‘On The Town’.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Hi Rob,

      was thinking about a potential B2 market for this Saturday, I was hoping that Sunetra might be dancing the Tango, but given she’ll be dancing the American Smooth and given her tears of joy (or whatever) from last week’s show, I be skipping any bets on her. After all, the Strictly camera only does close-ups of the upper body.

      I hope Anton hits the weights this week – in preparation for dragging Judy around the ballroom in their quickstep this Saturday!

      To my eyes, Scott showed no improvement last week. I’m sincerely not joking in saying that he still shuffles about the floor in a manner symptomatic of early onset dementia. Can imagine him having disastrous timing issues with the Samba.
      After his incessant media campaigning last week, so as to raise his profile further and ensure he didn’t suffer the humiliation of being one of the younger contestants in a Strictly series to be first out the door, I wonder if Scott will be as big a media whore this week. He might now be thinking: mission accomplished.
      He is that most mortal of Strictly combinations: a dreadful dancer and not even slightly funny with it.

      Must say Tim looked very dapper last Saturday. That waistcoat and slicked-back hair: he looks like he was an old-time movie star. he’s got old-school charm in spades. It doesn’t feel odd to say that Tim and Natalie look great together, on the dance-floor and particularly in the post=dance Claudia interview.

      Agreed with Craig about Steve’s hips. His hips look welded together or something.

      • Rob

        Hi Guildo,
        I don’t think I’ve seen a more untalented, unnatural dancer on Strictly than Scott. The great conundrum is, just how many of his R1 fans are ringing up to vote for him.

        At this early stage, with so many contestants left in, I can see him avoiding b2 again. His samba looks like it will be so laughably bad he will get extra votes for that too.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Yeah, along those lines, if and when the weekly B2 market does appear, I’ll be wondering which week it will be realistic to be betting on the likes of Thom and / or Frankie on that market. (Other big-priced B2 contenders possibly in the mix at some point could include Mark or even Simon).

          I remember loving the Mark & Iveta partnership from last year’s Strictly. Iveta was almost as much fun as Mark. They brought about the best in each other.

          In contrast, Iveta and Thom make for a tall, handsome and very boring pairing. I conceive of Thom as to ballroom as I did David James to goalkeeping. He looks like he has all the attributes to be a superstar but in reality he falls short. In terms of presence, Thom is just “there”. Maybe the modelling career has taught him to be disengaged.

          For a WAG, Frankie compares poorly with Abby Clancy. Frankie looks to be another one who has glided through life, trading off her looks.

          Mark Wright feels brash, entitled, smug and yet also carries a certain sweetness and naivety about him. Mixed feelings about Mark. Plus, he might be the most athletic celeb in the show.

          Simon and Kristina’s relationship I find v odd. Kristina, individually, seems her usual man-eater self, but Simon seems to not be noticing she’s there. Is he holding back in general on Strictly just because he’s naturally laid back?

          Back to Scott, I wonder how long his radio army will continue to vote for him, because his personality just doesn’t translate to television. It was the same with Simon Mayo’s attempts to transfer his radio success to a tv career.

          I thought watching Gregg ended up much more amusing than watching Scott.

          And will Jennifer bounce?

          • Rob

            I still think Steve is far and away the most likeable among this year’s male cast. If he could just somehow produce an amazing routine a la Chris Hollins’ Charleston & show improvement, he could yet emerge from the pack. I got to thinking, he will likely do a very good paso with Ola – that could be his moment (he says, with wishful thinking!!!).

            Agree it is ripe for some b2 surprises, probably starting this weekend. Let’s hope for some b2 prices in the next few days.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Yes, I really, really like Steve too, Rob. But those hips! I think you mentioned in a previous article that Steve has a martial arts background? If so, that’s surprising because Steve seems to have no hip joint flexibility whatsoever! He moves like a boxer, if anything. In terms of movement he starting to remind me of an energetic version of Joe Calzaghe.

            If I were Ola I would gamble on saving the Charleston for a little late in the series. She still has a Tango and a Paso behind and through which she can disguise and trade Steve’s stiffness as a strength. During the coming weeks she and Steve need to be working on loosening his hip joints at every spare opportunity (ready for a triumphant Charleston relaunch!). My word: that last sentence reads as rude!

            If you can recall, was Chris Hollins as stiff around the hips as Steve is, at this same stage in their respective Strictlies?

  16. Rob

    Chris H certainly proved himself a more competent dancer than Steve at this early stage but you never know. Journey potential still alive & kicking for Steve. Just!

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