Game Changer

Dec 1, 2017 by

Game Changer

It was no surprise to see Alexandra drop into the dance-off last week. This tees her up for a triumphant return to the top of the leaderboard tomorrow night dancing Charleston.

It’s the quarter-final, Musicals Week, and if TPTB were playing things straight you would be most concerned for Mollie dancing rumba to a song that doesn’t seem especially suited to a rumba; and Joe dancing samba to a song that seems even more unsuitable.

Mollie has danced well in recent weeks and deserved higher scores but the dark arts look to have been in full operation suppressing her.

Joe struggled with CCC in week 4 and the 34 he received for his pimp slot salsa at Blackpool is probably top of the most preposterous scoring list in this series. Samba looks like being a struggle for him, training clips have looked unconvincing, and if scored fairly he will drop down the leaderboard but you would have to anticipate him being scored more highly than Mollie.

Davood has a piece of music that seems more suited to a paso than AT. Will they have him in a ‘Phantom’ mask as well? Musicals Week certainly provides a window for the wardrobe department to aid a deramp, and TPTB to give lavish stage productions to those who are favoured. In training Davood has looked ok but there has been no mention of Vincent Simone helping him, as he did Alexandra and Debbie with their AT routines.

Musicals Week provides a window for the wardrobe department to aid a deramp, and TPTB to give lavish stage productions to those who are favoured

On paper, all of Alex, Debbie and Gemma have the window to shine tomorrow night, the former two very likely placed 1st and 2nd on the judges’ leaderboard. And given Joe and Gemma have avoided the dance-off series-long, highlighting their voting strength, pre-show Mollie vs Davood looks the most likely dance-off scenario.

Looking ahead, the BBC has revealed a significant change of format in this year’s final:

‘Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman host the grand final of Strictly Come Dancing. Fifteen couples started the competition, and now we are down to just four, all hoping to win the Glitterball Trophy.
Tonight, in one live show, it’s a Strictly first as all four couples dance three times. Firstly the judges pick a dance from the series which they think the couple can improve upon. Next the couples each perform their showdance – with no rules and any style, it’s their chance to showcase their creativity and dancing skills. And finally, each couple dance their favourite routine from the series in a bid to be crowned winners.
The fearsome foursome of Bruno, Darcey, Craig and Shirley critique each performance, but it is up to the viewers alone to vote for their favourite. Plus we have an amazing music performance from superstar Ed Sheeran.
Who will the viewers choose as their Strictly champions of 2017? It’s all to dance for!’

One wonders if this has been done because they are fearful Alex would otherwise be leaving the show in 4th place. This means Alex and Gorka will be able to reprise (presumably) their week 4 jive as their favourite routine so you would have to conclude Alex’s winning chance has improved on this news.

This might also offer the judges a bigger window to go into full-on ramp-athon mode singing Alex’s praises and trying to pimp her for the win. In series 11, Abbey Clancy probably didn’t win by that much of a margin and their pimping of Nat Gumede – the clear stand-out dancer in that series – may well have pushed her close to victory.

Alex and Gorka will be able to reprise their week 4 jive as their favourite routine so you would have to conclude Alex’s winning chance has improved on this news

This new format also has potential implications for Top Male/Female, Top 3 and e/w first 3 places investments because with all 4 couples standing there at the end waiting to hear who has won, and the BBC refusing to release voting figures post-series, it will effectively be considered a 3-way dead-heat for 2nd place.

In terms of the Outright market as it currently stands, Joe’s price looks too short. Firstly, there looks room for all of Debbie, Alex and Gemma to have a stronger show tomorrow night compared to Joe. And secondly, if we are of the view TPTB will decide who wins this series, Joe appears to have less going for him compared to the main 3 women.

With series stats suggesting a female winner will be wanted this year, there are clear narratives with all 3 of the female big guns: Debbie doing it for the oldsters in becoming the oldest winner of the show ever, aged 59; Gemma backed as this year’s feel-good journey winner – progressing from a position of zero dance experience at show start; and Alex pushed by TPTB as the best dancer in this series.

With all 4 couples standing there at the end waiting to hear who has won, and the BBC refusing to release voting figures post-series, it will effectively be considered a 3-way dead-heat for 2nd place

Joe’s series narrative seems the least compelling and one wonders whether the favour TPTB have shown him up to this point has more to do with him (presumably) being on the Strictly tour, and also as a reward for Katya and what she achieved for the show last year with Ed Balls.

Looking ahead to the semi-final, when each couple will dance one Latin and one ballroom routine, this is what the couples have left to choose from:

Alexandra & Gorka – Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz, Salsa
Davood & Nadiya – Foxtrot, Tango, Salsa
Debbie & Giovanni – Foxtrot, Waltz, Jive
Gemma & Aljaz – Argentine Tango, Tango, Rumba
Joe & Katya – American Smooth, Argentine Tango, Waltz
Mollie & AJ – Argentine Tango, Waltz, Samba

While Mollie looks a worthy fav for 10th elimination, a best-priced 8-11 doesn’t appeal. This series could go many different ways yet and it is a quarter-final to monitor closely in-running with a view to protecting Outright positions.

Musicals Week (quarter-final) song and dance choices:

Davood and Nadiya – Argentine Tango to The Phantom Of The Opera from The Phantom Of The Opera
Joe and Katya – Samba to Money Money from Cabaret
Alexandra and Gorka – Charleston to Supercalifragilistic from Mary Poppins
Debbie and Giovanni – American Smooth (VW-based) to Memory from Cats
Gemma and Aljaz – Quickstep to Hello Dolly! from Hello Dolly!
Mollie and AJ – Rumba to Hopelessly Devoted To You from Grease



  1. Stoney

    Hi Rob, interesting to see you are not taking Joes general popularity into account. You mention Gemma as this year’s feel good journey winner, however she has had some really poor scores deep into the competition. If they play this fair then Joe has a huge chance of winning considering Katya will no doubt produce a great show dance, and he has a good choice of dance of the series to reprise. Although I do agree tptb can achieve whatever they fancy as they proved last year with Ore.

    • Rob

      Hi Stoney. Joe has proved his popularity series-long, same as Gemma, and as mentioned. The final of Strictly, as we have seen many times now, is a very different beast to what has come before, & it will be stage-managed by TPTB.

      Taking everything into consideration at this stage, I do think there is more potential journey narrative there with Gemma. Joe has been mixing it at the top of the leaderboard pretty much since week 4. And I still think the signs have been there from the outset this year TPTB favour a female winner this year. But still all to play for and very much a case of second-guessing producer intentions.

      • Stoney

        I’m also surprised you see tptb pushing for an Alex win. She doesn’t really offer anything different to any previous winner. For me if they are pushing for a female winner I see Debbie as the one that would fit the bill.

        • Rob

          This new final format gives them the window to try and push Alexandra for the win as the ‘Proud Mary’ jive was her finest hour. I would just be wary of the possibility.

  2. M8

    Alex on the paper is the perfect BBC winner. Female, glamorous, mixed race, talented and a big middle finger up at Simon Cowell to boot. That’s why they want her to win. I had to post as I’m watching ITT and they just had a video package with all the stars talking about what they’ll take out of Strictly. Debbie’s was very hard hitting talking about two years of misery leading up to this amazing year thanks to Strictly. If she is allowed to express this in the final thought a hard hitting VT with tears, I can see her getting a lot of sympathy votes on the night from people tuning in for the first time and perhaps voting for the first time this series. I advise anyone whose not seen it to have a quick gander on IPlayer and you’ll understand my point.

    • Stoney

      2 things. I dont think Alex appeals to anyone outside of her fan base. She is very marmite and hard to take to. I dont see her picking up a big enough share of the mem vote. Secondly bbc did the 2 fingers up when Caroline won, with x factor figures now at less than half of strictlys I don’t think sticking 2 fingers up will be on their minds much.

  3. Rob

    This was the ITT clip M8 refers to, with Debbie in the pimp slot:

  4. Shining

    Got some (not publicly released) info today which suggests Gemma isn’t touring. Not a nailed on cert before anyone pulls me up in 5 months time but a strong suggestion.

    • Stoney

      This would definately explain the low scores in recent weeks. Might be some value in a departure tonight.

  5. Stoney

    Joe struggles again 😀

    • Bruce

      The potential banana skin was avoided with aplomb by Joe and Katya

      Didn’t rate Alexandra tonight and it seems a long time ago since she wowed me with her paso. Increasingly agreeing with those fed up with her gushing comments and personality

      Debbie still has a chance if they go all out for her to win and play the age card well but for the moment it’s Joes to lose

      • Stoney

        Have you turned Joe green yet?

        • Bruce

          I layed a fair amount at 3.4-3.5 and backed back at 3.9-4.0 on Betfair before the show and also laid a lot of Alexandra at 4.2-4.4. Thank goodness I did!
          Joe is now a very small red, easily managed and I will undoubtedly get him green before the semi final.
          Unfortunately I’m looking at only a very small return on investment and far worse than most years but at least it won’t be a loss
          Wish I had your book Stoney you must be a happy camper 🙂

          • Stoney

            It’s not over yet mate. There are still 3 max red left in Alex Gemma and Mollie. My best result by far is Joe winning. Aside from that Joe ew place and a Debbie win would see me claw back my X factor losses and end up with a small profit over the 2 combined.
            I may top up on Joe during the week.

  6. Tim B

    Alexandra vs Davood.

    Davood out.

  7. M8

    Alex is going to need a huge turnaround in votes come the finale. She’s just not getting them at all. Even with the emotional packages, that jive and even referencing her Mum, I’m not sure it’ll be enough.

  8. Rob

    Debbie – jive & foxtrot – CONFIRMED

    For the remainder, the options are:

    Alex – salsa, VW/foxtrot
    Mollie – samba/AT, waltz
    Gemma – rumba/AT, tango
    Joe – AT, waltz/AS

    • Tim B

      If Alexandra polls higher than Mollie this week, could she escape the dance off, or would she be doomed regardless? I don’t see her polling higher than Joe, The Lovely Debbie McGee or Gemma.

      • Craig

        Alex can finish bottom of the PV and still avoid the dance off. Say Alex 6 (5 judges + 1 PV), Debbie 7 (4+3), Joe 8 (3+5), Mollie 4 (2+2) and Gemma 5 (1+4).

        If Gemma is topping the PV then things are tricker for Alex.

  9. Stoney

    Seeing as Alex finished bottom of the vote last weekend im wondering if she will be cut loose if it happens again this weekend. Its looking nailed on she has been struggling all series, hence the favourable running slots leading up to this point.
    There is also the ponsibility that 4th place won’t be happening this series to protect Alex, but the question is why go to all this trouble protecting someone that can’t possibly win?

    • Craig

      Could it have been Davood who was bottom?

      In the event of a tie with the combined PV and judges scores, does the PV act as the decider?

      Struggling a bit to see a viable scoreboard scenario that knocks Alexandra out. Would really need to be a Debbie- Alex dance off. Joe tops leaderboard, Alex and Debbie tie for 2nd, Gemma and Mollie tie for 4th. Otherwise can’t see then how Gemma and Mollie can bypass both without Alex being bottom of the judges (extremely unlikely).

      Is my reasoning sound?

      • Rob

        Hi Craig. In the event of a tie, the pv is the decider. I think they may have been hoping Alexandra in the pimp slot & with a potential bottom 2 bounce from the previous week, would get a strong enough pv not to poll in last place.

        I think they probably anticipated Davood last on the pv and the dance-off between him and Mollie, with Mollie being saved.

  10. Stoney

    How long until Joe goes odds on. I’m saying before Saturday nights show.

    • Tim B

      I’m saying never…as he’s clearly not the best dancer and is unlikely to be the most impressive in either the semi or the final. However, as the only Male left he clearly has a good chance of winning. He was on Loose Women today saying he’s hoping to do the tour, but it hasn’t been finalised yet. He’s a very likeable guy and the stat of no more than two men/women winning on the trot will probably have to be broken at some point.

      • Stoney

        I’m not so sure mate, he’s not far off odds on now. If it isn’t before the show it will be after when he avoids another dance off. Judging by his training clips hes in for another good week. A 4 person final with only 1 male plays right into his hands as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Debbie in the dance off which would only shorten his odds even more.

        • Stoney

          Plenty of sites quoting Joe @evens now. Which is still a very nice price. Last night’s shock holby exit is getting the fans motivated.

  11. Tim B

    I turned Alexandra Burke green at double figure odds. Everyone has a price, and whilst she probably won’t win, she is the best dancer and the show could turn all this negative press coverage from Dan Wootton into a great sympathy VT/judges’ comments, should they so wish. I could see her going back to single figures in the final with a huge ramping from the judges on the night.

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