Golden Oldie

Dec 15, 2017 by

Golden Oldie

It was good to see the judges at least play it partly fair in last week’s semi-final in awarding Gemma the dance-off win up against Mollie, and allowing her to deservedly take her place in this year’s final.

It looked very harsh to score Gemma only 32 for her excellent tango and in giving Mollie the same score for her waltz it did look like the dark arts might be afoot.

After much speculation, it transpires Gemma, along with the other 3 finalists, is on the Strictly Tour 2018, and Mollie isn’t. Davood is also touring, which also came as a surprise. Why the show has favoured Joe over Davood in this series remains a mystery.

The indications in the last 3 weeks have strongly hinted TPTB do not want Gemma to win. It is hard to know what goes on behind the scenes in terms of tour negotiations but maybe Gemma didn’t sign on the dotted line until this week. The question now is, does this put Gemma back in contention for the glitterball trophy?

It has certainly been a very revealing week in the lead up to this year’s Strictly final. On Monday’s ITT Shirley and Darcey informed the judges’ choices had been selected from the early part of the series as routines they think the couples can improve upon. Lo and behold, Debbie was given her week 8, yes, that’s week 8, 35-scoring, pimp slot salsa to reprise.

Meanwhile, both Joe and Alexandra have been given week 3 (Movie Week) dances to reprise. Joe’s VW (32) and Alex’s AS (33) are unexceptional dances, and both routines involve distracting outfits and props. Gemma, having looked like she was lying on the canvas facing the 10-count, could not have asked for better than her week 4 paso doble (35) to reprise.

Gemma, having looked like she was lying on the canvas facing the 10-count, could not have asked for better than her week 4 paso doble to reprise

Looking at the showdance song choices, Debbie has a delicate, lyrical song that differentiates her from the other three. It looks like the ideal sort of track to create a moment with.

If Joe had been given ‘There’s No Business Like Showbusiness’ that would have looked a big plus for him. Instead, Alex has it, and it is the sort of thing you can see her over-selling. It is something of a divisive song, and given the way she attacks dances it could all end up becoming crazy fast and OTT cabaret.

Joe has a pretty uninspiring track for his showdance song, and it doesn’t really lend itself to any obvious wow factor. You have to respect Katya’s ability to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear but it doesn’t look the sort of thing handed to TPTB’s preferred winner. Gemma’s track at least has more oomph about it and will suit something spectacular.

We saw some small clips of the showdances in training footage on ITT this week. Of most significance was Ian describing Debbie’s as contemporary and emotional, with lifts, and with reference made to Caroline Flack’s showdance back in 2014 which helped propel her to victory.

It looks like being a Charleston-inspired showdance for Gemma with jive/lindy hop, foxtrot and QS elements and some lifts. We saw some side-to-side content for Alex and Gorka as they bound around with rapidity.

Debbie has a delicate, lyrical song that differentiates her from the other three and it looks like the ideal sort of track to create a moment with

Their routine will incorporate QS, AS and AT elements, while the clip of Joe was only of him supporting Katya as she whirled away. It will be QS-based, Joe outfitted as a prince charming; Katya as a princess, and it is described as Christmas-y, fairytale and magical.

If we make a stab at the couples’ choices – the last dances they will perform on the night – you would have to think Alex’s week 4 jive (39) to ‘Proud Mary’ is a cert, and will be in line for a maximum.

Debbie looks highly likely to reprise her week 10 Argentine tango (38). Gemma should choose her week 9 (Blackpool Week) AS (38). Joe’s dance is a little harder to predict. They described it on last night’s ITT as a public favourite which might be his Week 7 Charleston (36), involving a Katya special move at the end of it.

Debbie’s salsa looks cherry-picked as a crowd-pleaser which should be lined up for 10s this time around and this, along with Gemma’s paso, look like being the winners in round 1 in terms of impact.

Debbie then has an emotive showdance song that offers the window for something tender, dreamy and balletic. Add in her powerfully evocative AT and it starts to point to Debbie holding all the aces.

Joe and Gemma are fighting over the journey contestant vote while Debbie and Alex are fighting over the best dancer vote. Joe is favoured by being the only male in the final. Debbie, however, probably wields the most power among older voters, and granted a push from TPTB on the night, now known in Strictly circles as ‘the full Ore’, and which Debbie’s dance choices would certainly indicate, it could well be the casual voter gravitates mostly towards her.

Joe and Gemma are fighting over the journey contestant vote while Debbie and Alex are fighting over the best dancer vote

Debbie would become the oldest ever winner of the show aged 59. Factor in losing her husband Paul last year, a BBC institution in his day, and her powerful narrative could prove irresistible to run with for producers.

In terms of running order positions in the final, there is a solid argument that being on first is an advantage with phone lines opening after all 4 couples have performed their first judges’ choice dance, and just before the audience sees the first showdance of the night. Ore was given trap 1 in last year’s final, and the year before Jay performed first.

Of course unlike Ore, Jay suffered a major deramp in that final with the judges getting fully behind Kellie who ended up in the pimp slot for her final dance. What cannot be stressed enough is that Strictly finals are very different from the rest of the series and almost exist as a one-off entity with the casuals’ vote ramping up significantly.

This year’s final format is different to previous years with all 4 couples dancing all of their 3 routines before the winner is announced at the end of the show. This has led to much head-scratching regarding how e/w bets, Top 3 bets and potentially Top Female bets will be settled.

The BBC never releases voting figures and in previous years bookmakers have paid out based on a 2-way dead-heat for 2nd place. Unless there is a change to the BBC’s long established format of only announcing the winner, this year it will be a 3-way dead-heat for 2nd place.

Some of the bookmakers have pushed Gemma’s price out this week to be Top Female, even hitting 8-1 with Betfred at one point. For those looking for cover on a Joe win, backing Gemma at anything 5-1 or above is the value way to proceed based on dead-heat rules being applied.

Pre-show Joe is trading at a best-priced 4-5 on the high street. If you back Gemma for Top Female and Joe goes on to win the final, that will be a 3-way dead-heat applied to the Top Female market which should be a third of your stake at the full odds, and that would mean 5-1 Gemma (available with BetVictor) will give you a return of Evens.

Unless there is a change to the BBC’s long established format of only announcing the winner, this year it will be a 3-way dead-heat for 2nd place

Everyone needs to keep a close eye on bet settlements this year. The place part on e/w first 3 places bets struck on any of the contestants who end up dead-heating for 2nd, should be paid out at two thirds of your place stake at full place odds. And this is the same for Top 3 bets on anyone dead-heating for 2nd place – two thirds of your stake at full Top 3 odds.

Ladbrokes/Coral and Betfred has issued some special final prices. If she dances cleanly, Debbie could well land a full house of 10s on the night and deserves to be favourite. Sadly, the value has now gone on her price.

In terms of ‘Number of 10s Awarded’ we can expect a feel-good final given all 4 are touring but they will still seek to sway viewers with judges’ comments and scores. 26-30 looks a worthy favourite but 31-35 is eminently possible. Much will hinge on showdance 10s, but the spread should probably be set in the 29-32 range.

Judges’ choices:
Debbie McGee and Giovanni Pernice – Salsa to Can’t Take My Eyes Off You by Boys Town Gang

Alexandra Burke and Gorka Marquez – American Smooth to Wouldn’t It Be Lovely from My Fair Lady – Movie Week

Joe McFadden and Katya Jones – Viennese Waltz to Somewhere My Love from Dr Zhivago – Movie Week

Gemma Atkinson and Aljaz Skorjanec – Paso Doble to Viva La Vida by Coldplay

Showdance songs:
Debbie McGee and Giovanni Pernice – One Day I’ll Fly Away by Vaults

Alexandra Burke and Gorka Marquez – There’s No Business Like Showbusiness by Ethel Merman

Joe McFadden and Katya Jones – You Make My Dreams by Hall & Oates

Gemma Atkinson and Aljaz Skorjanec – Show Me How You Burlesque by Christina Aguilera

Favourite dances:


  1. Stoney

    Good luck Rob but I feel you have missed some crucial points out when analysing Debbies chances tomorrow night. Danny Mac was in the dance off in the semi, so his vote was easily manageable in the final. If you compare Louise to Joe support wise its a no contest. In theory they will need to throw Joe under the bus tomorrow night to get Debbie within a chance of beating him. Even then its a tall order.

    Let’s get it on 🙂

  2. Rob

    Best of luck, Stoney. It comes down to whether or not their tinkering has created an unstoppable voting machine in Joe, or not.

    I personally do not see him as a Jay McGuiness – he has not had an iconic dance like Jay had with his Pulp Fiction jive to take him into that sort of sphere, and his partnership with Katya is by no means the stand out one in this series.

    We are only able to gauge support according to social media. My view will always be this is only a small portion of the overall Strictly vote and most older voters (which is very much the core Strictly voter) will not be expressing an opinion online.

    Fair play to you for going all-in on the Joe win. My trading m.o. is always trying to ensure an all-green book, and I certainly think it is a lot more open than the current odds would indicate.

    • Stoney

      The panel on itt couldnt have been more obvious to their intentions. Rufus Hound gave solid reasons for everyone to win and when he got to Joe he said because he’s a man and Scottish.
      This isn’t a job to me so if it doesn’t go to plan then so be it.
      With regards to the older vote they are more likely to spread their votes between a few of their favourite on the night.

      • Stoney

        Do we always usually not know all the dances the night before the final? I didn’t have much interest in last year’s final.

        • Rob

          Hi Stoney. In previous years they have left us guessing regarding the judges’ choices. I recall being mortified on seeing Louise come out in her Flashdance attire at the start of the final last year, as her CCC to that music was one of her weakest routines and totally unflattering – it was an early indication of producer intentions.

          This year they have decided to keep us guessing on their last dance of the evening, the couples’ choices.

          • Stoney

            Thanks Rob. I would imagine the winner would probably have it sewn up by that point but its intriguing none the less.

    • Stoney

      Joe featured heavily on Google box just now. And that lift was featured. Would it be wrong of me to suggest that lift is to Joe what the jive was for Jay? Seems to have got a lot of attention this week.

      • Tim B

        That’s interesting that they’re featuring him this week. Earlier in the series they were showing The Lovely Debbie McGee.

  3. M8

    You are a brave man Stoney going all in and Joe without any Debbie cover. I wish you luck, personally I think Debbie is going to take it looking at the dances and the potential for VTs, stories and votes. In terms of side bets, Alexandra at 13/8 is hard to turn down as I expect her to have a final similar to Natalie Gumede who accumulated 119 points from 120 despite doing a week one cha cha as her judges redo. Debbie will struggle to beat that I feel although I do expect a strong points haul for her. Best of luck everyone.

  4. James

    Joe easily wins the Radio Times ‘who should win’ poll, receiving 59% of the 2,700 votes

    • Stoney

      Im yet to see a poll he hasn’t romped. With Nicola Sturgeon willing the whole of Scotland to get behind him it would be one of the biggest upsets in strictly finals if he didnt win tonight. Hence him shortening across all bookies as we speak.

      • M8

        Bodes very well for Joe if Sturgeon has campaigned for him. It certainly did the trick for Stevie McCrorie on the Voice.

  5. M8

    Great start to the night, a perfect 40 for Alex’s AS. I’ve gone in very hard on that 13/8 for her to top score the night. With the Proud Mary Jive coming, only a dodgy freestyle can stop me chalking that down as a win.

    • M8

      And bingo it comes in! That’s my Christmas sorted cheers Alex. Now I can relax a little more watching the rest of the show, it’s looking good for Joe… Once again good luck to all!

      • Bruce

        Great insight from James re the top scorer tonight. Thank you

        Amazed if Joe doesn’t win, even voted for him myself. So hopefully not too early but congrats Stoney

  6. Stoney

    Before joe even dances I can see them levelling the competition out by giving him 36

  7. Stoney

    Looking very good for Joe 🙂

  8. Rob

    VWP all Joe backers. I could never have picked him from series-start. Tonight’s edit suggested he was unstoppable on the pv.

    • Stoney

      I had kind of foreseen that. Anyway not here to gloat. Had a bit of a disaster with X factor but absolutely cleaned up and then some on strictly. A year to remember.

      • I’ll give you credit for picking Joe, Stoney. We may disagree on many things, but I’m always happy to raise a glass to a winning bet.

        The manipulations were missing from tonight’s final; probably due to the loss of Len, so momentum was difficult to overturn. Even though I was pro-Debbie, I would never have made Joe – or even Gemma – red.

        • Stoney

          Fair play Gavster, I’ve always had a live by the sword die by the sword attitude to gambling which is why I couldn’t do it professionally. Everyone will always remember my Fleur East mishap.
          I called Joe on here from day 1. And while I had good odds on others I eventually moved all my chips on to Joe. Tonight it paid off.
          Have a good Christmas.

  9. M8

    Huge congratulations all Joe backers. When he got that 40 for the Charleston it was clear he had it in the bag. The first time ever a gender has completed the hat trick and won three in a row. TPTB will have to go back to the drawing board to find their desired female winner next year. No doubt Kevin will probably get the chosen one. Anyway a long way away to worry about that! Merry Christmas all and good luck to anyone who had a go at the SPOTY awards. Also well done to anyone who won with the tens awarded market. 37 was the overall total I believe.

  10. It was a real scrap at times for profit this series. Did alright in the end once it became clear tonight that Joe was going to get good treatment.

    Many thanks Rob for the invaluable advice and to all the contributors here. Fair play Stoney!

    TV Specials withdrawal symptoms already kicking in with just SPOTY to go.

  11. Stoney

    Does anyone have any idea how the e/w works out for this field as we never found out the top 3. The market was 3 places at 1/4 of the odds. Surely Joes odds wont be penalised as we know he came 1st. So I would still be expecting them to pay at the original returns offered. They haven’t settled yet and im a little worried as it could make quite a big difference to my returns.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *