Champagne Charleston?

Oct 31, 2014 by

Champagne Charleston?

The Strictly and X Factor series have offered up something of a drought so far for value-seekers with decent-priced winners proving difficult to track down.

So much for my early view that Simon would very likely be a default finalist in Strictly this year based on dancing ability alone. He has already found himself bottom 2 twice and appears to be a dead man walking.

Thom Evans was one of the pre-series picks. After initially disappointing, he looked like he might be shaping up as a potential journey contestant only for that idea to be snubbed out last Saturday when he landed in the bottom 2 and was duly voted off by casting judge Len Goodman.

It’s a real shame Strictly doesn’t use deadlock, like X Factor, in the event of a 2-2 split decision among the judges. It would surely be fairer, and certainly add some extra suspense, though it would be better yet for trading purposes if the show reverted to a live results show on a Saturday night.

One thing is clear. Strictly has become increasingly manipulated. This was clearly the case last Saturday with the judges intent on very unsubtly ordering the scores and trying to avoid ties – ties making it easier for those at the bottom of the leaderboard to escape the dance-off.

Pixie received the pimp slot last Saturday for her samba, and it seems to be written into the script that if the pimp slot is awarded to one of the series most accomplished dancers, they will be given the highest score. Despite Pixie not producing the best dance on the night (that was Caroline Flack’s paso) she was awarded top score of 35.

It was the same the week before when Caroline Flack received the pimp slot and was allotted joint top score with Jake when her Quickstep certainly wasn’t the best on the night. Simon’s Charleston was superior but got under-marked sadly for those who took the advised 16-1 e/w.

At the other end of the leaderboard the judges blatantly over-scored Scott’s abysmal Charleston so he finished above Judy Murray, despite Judy’s Charleston being the stronger routine both in execution and content.

This looked like a transparent ploy to try and dampen Scott’s vote. Last place on the judges’ leaderboard can be a big motivator so they tried to focus on his improvement and kill him with faint praise as well as positioning him in 2nd last on the leaderboard. Their ploy failed when Scott, again, escaped the bottom 2.

The Star informed us that Judy has been topping the public vote. Given its stellar track record with vote leaks, there is no reason to doubt this. It comes as no surprise having put forward the case, pre-series, as to why Judy and Anton could prove a very popular pairing. It is just a shame Judy’s dance skills haven’t come up to scratch.

At this stage of proceedings it is looking highly likely the final will be between Jake, Pixie, Frankie and Caroline. Is there any chance a ‘journey’ contestant could squeeze one of the big 4 out, possibly Mark, Steve or even Judy? Given the way the Strictly producers like to operate these days, you have to fear they will cleverly kill off any lesser dancer who is hauling a strong public vote when it comes to the business end of the competition.

This week you get the distinct impression they are gunning for Scott. He will very likely be wearing an unflattering, and viewer alienating Uncle Fester outfit while attempting a foxtrot. 5-2 as advised earlier this week looked a value price for Scott to be next eliminated. He is now into a best-priced 6-4 which looks far less appealing given his R1 audience have proved a loyal voting army to date.

Joy of joys, Ladbrokes have a bottom 2 market for the first time this series. The 2 of interest here have to be Sunetra Sarker at 4-1, and Alison Hammond at 9-4.

Judy’s vote should be robust enough for her to escape the bottom 2 again, and she has an AS involving lifts which looks like it is going to be a lot of fun courtesy of Anton’s choreo.

Simon has the chance to bounce back doing a paso and you have to anticipate the judges talking him up after his bottom 2 appearance last week, and potentially over-scoring him. Mark looks like he has an entertaining jive in the making, which looks like it will build upon last week’s samba.

Sunetra, however, doesn’t look like she will be suited by the jive and has been struggling in the training room with its fleet-footed steps. Alison has an American Smooth set to ‘Wuthering Heights’, which she has intimated will involve her flying at some point.

Her vote held up surprisingly well last week as she out-polled Thom and Simon, but such stunts can come across as rather desperate. Russell Grant, who had previously been topping the public vote according to the Star, landed in the bottom 2 back in 2011, after being shot out of a cannon at Wembley Arena.

After a shock bottom 2 like last week’s, you often see a backlash against the lesser dancers the following week, and viewers more strongly motivated to support the better dancers.

In Highest Scorer betting, it’s wise to think about who might be set to be given the pimp slot tomorrow night. Pixie’s had 2 pimps now; Caroline, Mark, Frankie and Simon one apiece. Jake’s turn looks nigh, but there are 3 pasos on the night and the judges might be thinking about bigging up Simon’s paso and giving him the boost of a 2nd pimp slot.

You have to worry that the placing of Pixie at the top of the leaderboard last week is because she is doing badly in the polling so she may be given top score or joint-top score again. But at the prices, Simon at 25-1 e/w and Steve at 33-1 e/w look worth speculative wagers.

The narrative is there for Simon to be gifted a leaderboard-topping score. As for Steve, a 30 for his Waltz last week was his personal best and this week’s Charleston looks like it has the potential to land him an even higher score. Ola famously produced effectively a series-winning Charleston when she partnered Chris Hollins, and training footage of their routine looks highly promising, incorporating some dare-devil lifts.

It sounds like the sort of routine that producers’ might see as a perfect show-closer, and it could just be a breakthrough dance for Steve.


Sunetra – bottom 2 – 4pt win – 4-1 Ladbrokes
Alison – bottom 2 – 4pt win – 9-4 Ladbrokes

Steve – highest scorer – 0.5pt e/w – 33-1 – Coral (40-1 available win-only with William hill)
Simon – highest scorer – 0.5pt e/w – 25-1 – Coral


  1. hemsby

    Thanks for the article Rob.

    I’ve joined you in having a punt on Steve for Top Score @ 40/1 with Hills for the reasons you mention.Missed the 33’s with Corals E/W unfortunately……what were the E/W terms?

    • Rob

      e/w a third the odds first 2, hems.

      Think he has a realistic shot – but he will likely need to execute it perfectly, & be given a late slot in the running order. Here’s hoping 🙂

    • hemsby

      Cheers……33/1 E/W definitely a value bet.

  2. Guildo Horn Forever

    Couldn’t find the Lad’s B2 prices for ages. Great spot, Rob and really like your selections.

    Am looking at the 14s for Pixie to be B2 and maybe even the 150/1 for her to be eliminated (it would take a crazy but not impossible B2, as Simon, for eg, could easily end up there again. The producers must also know he is a ‘dead man walking’ too). Will finally get round to backing your Steve at big odds in a number of markets.

    • Rob

      Yes, good to see Ladbrokes finally offering a bottom 2 market, Guildo – just a shame a few other bookmakers don’t price it up, along with other Strictly markets, as well.

      That’s a fair shout re. Pixie at 14s. If we get a scenario in which Jake, Caroline and Frankie all outscore her, it is easy to see her dropping down. I guess the only worry is, producers are probably aware of this & may well continue to afford her protection.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Meant to add, Rob, re Steve’s Charleston, I seem to recall Craig mentioning in a quick aside a couple of weeks ago that he perceived that Steve’s improving dance action suggested he could be v good at the Charleston.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          One more thing! If the ‘ploy’ continues this week to keep Scott off the bottom, then Judy and also Alison and even Sunetra (at 40s!) in lowest scorer have to be of interest?

          • Rob

            I like your thinking, Guildo. Judy looks like she is going to do a decent AS. Have to think Scott’s foxtrot can receive, at most, what, maybe… 5, 6, 6, 6 if the judges have the temerity to inflate their scores for him? I guess a 4, 5, 5, 5 is more likely. In that 1st scenario there might be room to give Sunetra or Alison a lower score than Scott.

  3. Rob

    Certainly not as clear cut as anticipated. Scott could well escape. Worry for Steve, & Sunetra likely in trouble too from trap 1. Think 2 covers are the wise play. Alison could be b2 as well but far from clear. In case she escapes, along with Scott & Judy:


    Steve – next elim – 12-1 – Coral – 1pt win
    Sunetra – next elim – 12-1 – Coral – 1pt win

  4. Rob

    Scott vs Alison – Scott gone.

    At last, a couple of decent winners 🙂

  5. M8

    Well done Rob, good call on the public backlash following shock elim. Always does the trick with a dud celeb. Frankie got the pimp slot and thus the highest score however the most pleasing dance of the night for me was Mark Wright. I backed him yesterday to finish top man at 9s taking into account his cringeworthy tears that will appeal to viewers along with his potential fanbase so it’s good to see him getting a big score and push.

    My prediction of Jake burning out like so many Eastenders contestants before him looks to be on course. I see him going the way of Scott Maslen and getting knocked out in the semis, most likely to one of the big 3 girls in the dance off (Pixie would be my guess). I honestly can’t believe he’s still favourite to win on oddschecker. Some people will be losing a lot of money before Christmas IMO.

    • Rob

      Great investment on Mark, M8. Agree – his tears were a masterstroke helping get the public on his side. He has built a journey narrative for himself. Also think he and Karen have a great partnership and she puts together some top routines.

      Jake is certainly better performing the fast Latin dances. One of my concerns with him pre-series, was his looks and general demeanour. Eastenders is popular but I wasn’t convinced he is a perfect fit with Strictly’s middle England voters.

      I think the worry for Jake backers now are, he does come across as rather dour & lacks that bright-eyed enthusiasm and charisma Mark, for instance, is able to radiate. And he may well have peaked too early.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Think it best that I desist from backing my own rubbish entertainment fancies and blindly follow the tips of those I rate highly! (aka: those on this site!)

        (But I couldn’t resist the 150s for Gallacher in China this week.)

  6. M8

    Building on your point about Jake’s looks and demeanour Rob. TPTB are so invested in their winner. They were desperate to see Abbey win last year. She is a poster girl that obviously looks brilliant on the cover of newspapers and magazines etc as their winner. Will they want boring, bald Jake Wood on the cover of magazines and appearing on television when they could have one of the 3 glamourous girls or Mark?

  7. Rob

    What we know so far this week:

    Alison & Aljaz – ?
    Caroline & Pasha – waltz
    Frankie & Kevin – ?
    Jake & Janette – Rumba
    Judy & Anton – Paso Doble
    Mark & Karen – ballroom?
    Pixie & Trent – foxtrot
    Simon & Kristina – ballroom?
    Steve & Ola – ?
    Sunetra & Brendan – Foxtrot

  8. Rob

    Quickstep for Simon.
    Paso doble for Steve.
    Charleston for Alison.

  9. Rob

    Full list of dances and songs:

    Alison and Aljaz will be performing the Charleston to Friend like Me by Robin Williams, from the film Aladdin.

    Caroline and Pasha will be performing the Waltz to Three Times a Lady by The Commodores.

    Frankie and Kevin will be performing the Samba to La Bamba by Connie Francis.

    Jake and Janette will be performing the Rumba to Strangers in the Night by Frank Sinatra.

    Judy and Anton will be performing the Paso to I Fought the Law by The Clash.

    Mark and Karen will be performing the Waltz to Weekend In New England by Barry Manilow.

    Pixie and Trent will be performing the Foxtrot to When I’m Sixty Four by The Beatles.

    Simon and Kristina will be performing the Quickstep to I Got Rhythm by Bobby Darin.

    Steve and Ola will be performing the Paso to Use Somebody by Kings of Leon.

    Sunetra and Brendan will be performing the Foxtrot to All of Me by John Legend.

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