Golden Oldies

Sep 16, 2020 by

Golden Oldies

It now stands at 10-7 male winners to female winners across the history of Strictly and with a man winning in 4 of the last 5 years, the BBC may favour a female winner this year.

Emma Barton appeared to be pencilled in as TCO (the chosen one) last year prior to Kelvin coming in as a last minute replacement for the injured Jamie Laing, and turning out to be an unstoppable middle England mum (mem) appealing, dancing force of nature.

As history shows us, it is no easy task for TPTB to achieve a female winner. Stacey Dooley in 2018 was aided enormously in her run by being paired with Kevin from Grimsby seeking a first series win in his fifth final. This tells us the pairings among this year’s female contestants will be a crucial part of the jigsaw.

There are clear voting concerns among the early front-runners in the Outright starting with HRVY, aka Harvey Leigh Cantwell, 21, who will be unknown to the vast majority of the voting audience. He is a singer, tv presenter, and ‘YouTube sensation’. He looks fleet of foot and may well excel in the fast Latins.

It now stands at 10-7 male winners to female winners across the history of Strictly and with a man winning in 4 of the last 5 years, the BBC may favour a female winner this year

His participation on the show probably says more about the BBC’s obsession in trying to engage a younger audience and have someone with a big social media presence take part (Joe Sugg, Saffron Barker) than it does about actually wanting him to win.

Maisie Smith, 19, is an Eastenders actress and a big star on TikTok with clips there showing that she can certainly cut a rug. Maisie also had a run out in a past Eastenders does Strictly segment for Children In Need (about 10 minutes in) and looks the part.

Louis Smith remains the youngest winner of Strictly, aged 23, and while Maisie has the makings of a top notch dancer the concern would be a lack of relatability for the core Strictly audience, but at least her Eastenders profile means she will be familiar to some viewers.

Maisie got in trouble for smoking a spliff in a parked car back in the summer. Hold the front page! We need to hear more from her in interview but she does seem to have some natural charm about her.

She also appears to be the smallest among this year’s cast of female celebs, so logic dictates the shortest male pro, Gorka, looks her most likely partner, after he was benched last year. However, that’s certainly not a given and the BBC has past form for throwing curveballs when it comes to pairings.

It is easy to imagine Maisie and HRVY coming out of the blocks strongly at series start but when contestants are brilliant week in, week out, there is a huge risk of no series narrative, no ‘journey’. Only a mem-pleasing juggernaut, Kelvin-type contestant can usually overcome this.

Max George, 31, is in the boyband The Wanted and played Clint in season 6 of Glee. Digging up videos of Clint dancing in Glee reveal he will have some dancing acumen but it is also noticeable he isn’t tasked with any significant dance moves in those choreographed numbers.

Past winner Jay McGuiness, also of The Wanted, had significant stage school dancing experience Max appears to lack. Jay also had a boyish, shy charm working for him and produced one of the all-time great routines with that Pulp Fiction-inspired jive.

It is easy to imagine Maisie and HRVY coming out of the blocks strongly at series start but when contestants are brilliant week in, week out, there is a huge risk of no series narrative, no ‘journey’

Made In Chelsea’s Jamie Laing, 31, exhibited a hint of dance ability last year prior to his withdrawal due to injury and is expected to be a leading light in this series. A ‘posh’ profile looks a good fit on paper but does he possess the requisite charm? Interestingly, a blonde guy has never won Strictly and he might lack a rugged enough look to fully win over Strictly’s older female voters.

JJ Chalmers, 33, is a Scottish tv presenter and Invictus Games medallist. Injured in a bomb blast in Afghanistan while serving as a Royal Marine, he endured facial injuries, lost two fingers and his right elbow was disintegrated.

As this year’s less able-bodied contestant, and with a powerful back story, JJ should enjoy plenty of backing from TPTB and could have some journey potential. He also won’t be physically compromised the way Will Bayley, Lauren Steadman and Jonnie Peacock were, all of whom had decent runs on the show.

Jason Bell, 42, is a former American footballer who now helps present NFL coverage on the BBC. He’s a real bright spark on that show but the concern would be, he might come across as too American for middle England voters despite him anticipated to be a pretty decent dancer.

Stand-up comic Bill Bailey, 55, is also musical and has acting credits. His performance skills, especially if he goes the self-deprecating route, hamming up routines, could prove tv gold.

After the extended misery of lockdown and all of its fallout, the BBC will probably be especially keen to offer the audience some light entertainment on a Saturday night and Bill has the potential to fulfil this role with aplomb. It will be fun to see how he is styled in Halloween Week, which looks like falling in week 2 this year, as he has a look tailor-made for a spooky, horror make-over.

Nicola Adams, 37, is a former Olympic boxing champion, and will form one half of the show’s first ever same sex couple. Nicola has requested to lead dances and is not keen on wearing dresses. There is no escaping the fact a black lesbian is a difficult sell to Middle England but that probably won’t stop the show relentlessly talking her up, pointing out what an inspirational role model she is, along with any other eulogy they can dream up along the way.

In her favour, Nicola has genuine charisma and likability about her, and is great in interview, and two women dancing together is probably more palatable to a conservative British audience compared to two men. One thing’s for sure – it has to be an odds-on shot her week 1 choreo will be a boxing-themed routine. ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ anyone?

As this year’s less able-bodied contestant, and with a powerful back story, JJ should enjoy plenty of backing from TPTB and could have some journey potential

Ranvir Singh, 43, is political editor on ITV’s Good Morning Britain and an ITN newsreader. The show may well try and keep Ranvir in for a few weeks for cross-promotional purposes on ITV’s breakfast show, but she certainly doesn’t enjoy the ideal profile for Strictly, and doesn’t scream contender pre-lives.

Clara Amfo, 36, is best known as a Radio 1 DJ, turning up as a presenter on music events such as BBC’s coverage of Glastonbury and The Proms. She will be able to shake her booty but there have to be question marks over her popularity with voters. Last year Dev Griffin, who enjoyed a similar sort of DJ profile to Clara, was the 3rd elimination despite exhibiting significant dance ability.

Jacqui Smith, 57, was the first female Home Secretary and got caught up in the MP expenses scandal back in 2009. She looks a worthy rank outsider and it would come as no surprise to see Anton paired with her.

Caroline Quentin, 60, is probably best known for her role in BBC comedy Men Behaving Badly back in the 90s. Caroline does have some dance training background. She performed ballet up until the age of 12 and modern dance and tap after that. She has also starred in theatre musicals including ‘Me And My Girl’.

She will need to defy the age stats to win although the same can be said for Maisie at the other end of the age spectrum. Pamela Stephenson made the final in 2010 aged 61, and Debbie McGee was 59 when she made the final in 2017 so at least there are precedents. Being an oldie could become part of a feel-good ‘journey’ narrative for viewers to buy into, an audience that looks a much more natural fit with Caroline compared to most of the rest of this year’s field.

This year’s series looks like running from October 24 to December 19. If we have the usual 4-couple final, they will need a double elimination somewhere along the way if they don’t have an elimination in week 1 which would be a break from the norm. A shortened run of 9 weeks, compared to the usual 13, means there will be more opportunity for celebs to avoid unsuitable dances, so the dances allotted to couples each week are going to be more illuminating than ever.

With Nicola paired with a female pro, only 5 male pros will be required this year, as opposed to 7 female pros. The launch show, when the pairings are unveiled, is being recorded on Monday October 12 and we should see a spoiler list appear on Digital Spy shortly afterwards. The BBC’s ballot for Strictly tickets has opened and as things stand, the shows are going to be recorded in front of a restricted studio audience.

Hopefully Covid doesn’t strike anyone down and cause further disruption to this series with celebrities on standby to come in as replacements. Anyone investing in the Strictly Outright on the Betfair Exchange should be aware of the fact this is a market whereby ***ALL BETS STAND RUN OR NOT*** which means if you back a contestant who ends up having to pull out, you will lose your money.


  1. James

    Hi Rob

    Great early analysis, as always. Fingers crossed for an enjoyable, uninterrupted and profitable series.

    Over the past 12 years, the celebrity achieving the highest female average score has only gone on to win the series twice.

    2008: Rachel, 35.8 avg, 2nd place
    2009: Ali, 34.1, 3rd
    2010: Kara 35.7, 1st
    2011: Chelsee, 35.3, 2nd
    2012: Denise, 35.1, =2nd
    2013: Natalie, 36.9, =2nd
    2014: Caroline, 35.1, 1st
    2015: Kellie, 34.1, =2nd
    2016: Louise, 35.9, =2nd
    2017: Alexandra, 36.4, =2nd
    2018: Ashley, 36.9, =2nd
    2019: Michelle, 33.1, 7th

    Nine of these celebrities experienced a dance-off, and indeed, six were consigned to multiple dance-off appearances, confirming that the female celeb rated the best by the judges has often struggled when it comes to the public vote.

    On the assumption that Maisie will be in this position in 2020, it will be interesting to see if this pattern continues with her.

  2. M8

    Hi Rob, thanks for your hard work, I hope you and your family are well in these difficult times. Here’s to a good profitable series.

    I agree with your assessment that TPTB are likely to push for a female winner this year. I have still covered JJ Chalmers, with his backstory and Scotland vote, I’m happy to be safe than sorry. I think they would LOVE a Nicola Adams win, considering it would tick every equality/diversity box on the sheet that the BBC cares so much about. As an avid watcher of the NFL Show, Jason Bell is extremely charismatic, a very likeable guy and I think will prove a decent dancer, however as you say an American or any celebrity outside of Britain for that matter historically struggles for votes which makes winning a tall order.

    Also on a side note, in order to get an idea of how Strictly may setup on a social distanced set, I’ve been keeping a close track of DWTS, (the American version of Strictly). As an avid watcher of the show for many years now and forum/social media lurker, it has frustrated me that UK bookies have never taken the show on, but this year PP are running an outright winner market and there is some very good value to be had from the likes of Nev Schulman, Justina Machado and Johnny Weir. For anyone interested, you can normally catch the full shows online (Dailymotion I think have all of them posted) and make any judgements for yourself. The show is currently four weeks into an 11 week season.

    Again, I wish good health and the best of luck to all readers for the Strictly season.

    • Rob

      Hi James and M8. Many thanks to you both for posting your thoughts. I’ve also been following DWTS. In these pandemic times, we need to latch onto any tv betting/Specials opportunities that arise, to try & forge some profit.
      Nev is on my radar but so are Skai and Kaitlyn. It’s a show with a different dynamic to the UK version. I’m continually shocked how short the routines are. The results cock-up was quite amusing this week –
      In other Strictly-related news, it looks like AJ has signed up for IAC. I think a few shrewdies will be collecting on that one –

      • M8

        Hi Rob. I’m glad to hear you’ve been keeping track of DWTS, it’s very nice to be able to talk to someone else about the show from a betting perspective. Yes, the dances are even shorter than usual this season, as they have 15 couples rather than the usual 12/13. This has likely been done with a view to protecting the show’s longevity should anyone be forced to withdraw for Covid reasons. You may already be aware but for reference anyway, the press release for the following week of the show normally comes out the day after the Monday show where the dances and song choices are revealed. You can find them here:

        It is still relatively early days in what is turning out to be an interesting season with no clear winner or even final two having emerged yet after four weeks (which is rare on this show). However, it is good to hear you have also eyed up Nev. Like Strictly, the show has a largely middle to older female audience and based on my research him and his shiny smile has them well and truly under his spell. He has also done a very good job playing down his heavy dance experience, compared to Kaitlyn who has been upfront about hers, which may well harm her voting wise. Kaitlyn’s odds are attractive, however two Bachelorettes winning in successive seasons would be a big ask and unlike last year’s winner who joined DWTS immediately after her Bachelorette season, it was five years since Kaitlyn’s time on the show, which again could well have affected her when it comes to votes.

        Skai’s odds are good, however young female Disney stars have historically struggled for votes on the show, leading to producers having to prop them up in order to keep them in the competition. The ridiculous over-scoring of her dance in week 4 suggests to me that she may be falling into the same trap. Justina, currently at the same odds is easily as good if not a better dancer, but IMO far more likeable and votable to the DWTS demographic.

        Finally, thank you for the heads up on AJ! I wonder if he regrets leaving Strictly so soon. Obviously no one predicted a global pandemic would overcome us this year, however a nice warm Strictly studio and a potential partnership with Maisie Smith must feel more attractive than a long stay in a cold wet Welsh castle. Money talks I guess!

  3. Stoney

    Hi Rob and co. That time has come around again. I have had an incredible run on strictly backing the 4 out of the last 5 series winners pre launch show. Im expecting the run to come to an end this year. From what I can see this is the last predictable since my last slip up during the Ore winning year.
    Ive stuck my opening bucks on Max at this point but will have to keep an eye a things progress. I topped up after he drifted out to 7/1 for the launch show. Anyone remember the same thing happening to his band mate a few years back. Look how that ended 😉
    In Max’s favour, he will suit the MEM voter, he has a big following from the band. I also think Dianne is a likable partner and they will form an exciting partnership, oh and he definitely has the potential to go on a journey and certainly isn’t a ringer.
    Good luck all.

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