In Harm’s Way

Dec 1, 2023 by

In Harm’s Way

It’s all starting to make a lot more sense now. News earlier this week Nigel will not participate in the Strictly Live Tour next year puts into context his harsh treatment across the series.

TPTB are presumably aiming to shuffle him off towards the exit door either tomorrow night or in next week’s semi-final for the simple reason they never want a series winner to be a non-tourer. It’s completely unfair on Nigel and Katya but that’s the long and short of it.

Nigel’s Mary Poppins-inspired Charleston looks a potential vote-winner but rest assured we will hear the judges nit-picking him again, probably for loss of timing and minuscule errors or technical flaws.

It’s a situation that is begging for a Rage Against The Machine campaign by viewers, multi-voting for Nigel in defiance of the dark arts being used to trip him up. As sure as eggs are eggs, TPTB will succeed in their mission, even if Nigel somehow manages to limp his way into the final.

Ellie is a red hot 1.35 favourite to win the series on Betfair currently but there are now legitimate grounds to consider whether Annabel is Plan A, not Ellie. With Angela Scanlon ruthlessly dispatched last Saturday, it leaves the way clear for Annabel as the potential feel-good journey winner of the series.

Her paso from the 3 slot could have followed a completely different script of low scores and criticism. Instead, we saw Motsi and Shirley give it a standing ovation and Anton award it a 10.

A 36 was Annabel’s highest score of the series and she suddenly feels like the contestant building potentially crucial late momentum as we enter the business end of the competition.

Week 10 judges’ leaderboard:

Ellie and Vito: Argentine Tango – (6) – 9, 10, 10, 9 = 38
Bobby and Dianne: Couple’s Choice – (5) – 8, 9, 10, 10 = 37
Annabel and Johannes: Paso Doble – (3) – 8, 9, 9, 10 = 36
Layton and Nikita: American Smooth – (1) – 8, 9, 8, 9 – 34 – bottom 2
Nigel and Katya: Rumba – (2) – 8, 8, 8, 9 – 33
Angela and Carlos: Cha Cha Cha – (4) – 7, 7, 8, 9 = 31 – eliminated

You might also expect a natural degree of vote transference from Angela S to Annabel, and if Nigel is successfully dispatched in the next two weeks, all those Nigel fans look a much better fit with Annabel than any of the other remaining contestants.

Anton has pinpointed Annabel as having the best frame in the competition and a foxtrot to ‘For Good’ from Wicked offers scope for further praise regarding her ballroom improvement across the series, and high scores.

Annabel is the only remaining contestant not to have enjoyed the pimp slot so we may see that happen tomorrow as well.

Anton has pinpointed Annabel as having the best frame in the competition and a foxtrot to ‘For Good’ from Wicked offers scope for further praise regarding her ballroom improvement

The song’s lyrics also powerfully resonate regarding the bond Annabel has formed with Johannes and you can only presume this is by design:

I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason. Bringing something we must learn. And we are led to those who help us most to grow if we let them. And we help them in return.

It also feels significant Annabel has been persuaded to sign up for the Tour without her rock, Johannes, when you might have expected her to be in Melbourne, Australia in mid-January next year covering the Australian Open.

There are precedents. Along with a few others in the dim and distant past, Joanne Clifton didn’t tour with Ore Oduba, Oti Mabuse didn’t tour with Kelvin Fletcher, and Stacey Dooley was missing Kevin Clifton on the 2019 live tour.

Ellie’s pimp slot treatment last Saturday was curious. She got the highest score of the night but there was a sense of deramping with no Motsi and Shirley standing ovation, Anton disappointed there was no intensity in his view, and Craig saying it lacked intimacy.

A clean routine was stressed but a failure to connect emotionally seems to be an intentionally recurring, series-long theme. Might this be telling us the perceived scorched earth policy with Ellie is starting to cough and splutter within sight of the finish line and they’ve decided to follow a different course?

A clean routine was stressed but a failure to connect emotionally seems to be an intentionally recurring, series-long theme with Ellie

Put this alongside Annabel who, it has been stated, can emotionally deliver and we seem to have the makings of a potentially competitive final, especially if Annabel gets the chance to reprise her CC routine. She has to make it to the final first, of course, and given this series has been moving in mysterious ways that’s no guarantee.

Ellie is long overdue an early r.o. slot and she might even open the show with QS which is always prone to foot faults if they choose to highlight them. It will be fascinating to see how Ellie is treated tomorrow night compared to Annabel.

Bobby is touring as much as his series treatment has given off undesirable winner vibes almost as much as Nigel. His snake hips were eulogised during his week 3 samba (32) but salsa remains a tough assignment and is an easy one to score down on the night. He will attempt the iconic Dirty Dancing lift of Dianne which will at least offer a grandstand finish.

And what will they do next with Layton? He will be polling last so will they aim to place him at the top of the leaderboard with his paso, and try and help him escape the dance-off, or might they be willing to offload him before the final?

Bobby’s snake hips were eulogised during his week 3 samba (32) but salsa remains a tough assignment and is an easy one to score down on the night

The two remaining female contestants look safe-ish and the tenth elimination probably lies between Nigel, Bobby and Layton. It should become abundantly clear once more who is in the crosshairs as TPTB have been ruling with an iron fist in this series.

Week 11 – Musicals’ Week – dances & songs:
Annabel and Johannes: Foxtrot to For Good from Wicked
Bobby and Dianne: Salsa to (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life from Dirty Dancing
Ellie and Vito: Quickstep to Belle from Beauty And The Beast
Layton and Nikita: Paso Doble to Backstage Romance from Moulin Rouge! The Musical
Nigel and Katya: Charleston to Step In Time from Mary Poppins

Remaining dances:
Annabel & Johannes – Viennese Waltz , Rumba, Salsa, Argentine Tango
Bobby & Dianne – Quickstep, Waltz, Paso Doble, Rumba
Ellie & Vito – Tango, Waltz, CCC, Couple’s Choice
Layton & Nikita – Foxtrot, Waltz, Charleston, Rumba
Nigel & Katya – American Smooth, Waltz, Samba, Argentine Tango


  1. Stoney

    Nice write up Rob. Think we are all hoping for the deramp to continue tomorrow night. The pendulum is certainly swinging. Angela was by far my biggest green, but Annabelle will be a decent result, and I would be equally as happy with a Nigel upsetting the apple cart.

  2. Stoney

    In other news I steamed into Bellew at 25/1 last week which is beginning to look like my Xmas bonus this year.

  3. Stoney

    Nigel has quit
    2 person final then.
    Annabelle about to pick up a huge chunk of vote transfer tonight I imagine.

  4. James

    Will be interesting to see how they handle it with Nigel leaving – I don’t think they’ll want another two person finale but maybe that’s the approach they’ll take. Presumably it’s Bobby’s week this week if they do want to dispose of someone. We’ve seen a million Dirty Dancing numbers on Strictly and I wonder if he’s been lumbered with that specifically to make the audience feel it’s nothing they’ve seen before.

    I thought Stoney’s view of the final from earlier in the week was bang on – if it’s three people Ellie, Annabel and Layton looks likely. I think Angela was the original plan but they switched horses after the reaction to the Couple’s Choice. I’m not sure how fussed the BBC will be between Annabel and Ellie, either way they get a female winner and a first win for a popular male pro.

  5. M8

    I think they’d want Ellie to win purely as she’s a ‘younger sexier’ winner who will look good on the marketing boards and magazine covers etc. They’ve been pushing her and Vito like mad as the next Kara and Artem. Unfortunately they don’t have the natural chemistry to really pull it off. But Annabel is a longtime BBC family member so it certainly wouldn’t be the worst outcome. I think the BBC are delighted with the current state of affairs with three of the final four employed by the BBC and all four touring. From their POV, this series has played itself out perfectly.

    Bobby as the only male left (not including Layton) should pick up the voting slack from Nigel leaving as will Annabel. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we saw a Layton Ellie bottom two tonight.

    In terms of the final, I don’t think we can automatically assume we’ll have a two-person final. They’ll need to fill the scheduled broadcast time somehow which becomes difficult with just two finalists. We just saw all five semi-finalists go through on DWTS due to the final being changed to a three-hour broadcast at short notice.

  6. Stoney

    No elimination tonight. I have to admit. I would prefer to have Layton in the final with Ellie as he is the better dancer, which should help Annabelle.

  7. Donna

    Just saw the news on Nigel. That will put a spanner in the works for the producers.
    They could do like week 1/2 and roll the votes over..
    Or opt for the two person final like 2021 but have to hope no one else gets injured.
    Could they bring Angela S back??

    On ITT Nigel routine looked full on and he already had strapping on his arms & leg after the jive.
    Feel sorry for them & their backers.

  8. Stoney

    Game on for project Deramp tonight. Coming together nicely for the run in 🙂
    Whoever backed that I to 1.25 on the exchange must be drunk.

  9. Stoney

    Craig hammering home the non dancer message tonight for Annabelle

  10. Stoney

    I imagine the script was tweaked somewhat due to Nigel pulling out. I think the main objective is to keep Layton out of the dance off next week, Annabelle will likely have to face Bobby in the dance off.

  11. Stoney

    Cha Cha Cha for Ellie in the semi. Interesting.

  12. James

    I think the original plan was to save Layton this week but have him in the dance off next week – I don’t think that will have changed.

  13. Sally Thompson

    I have only just found out that Katya was due to be in Panto on Dec 8th in Telford. How was that supposed to work with Strictly ? Very convenient Nigel pulled out due to injury, in time for the Panto start. Les Dennis had a Panto lined up as well. Do these Stars get a contract for certain weeks? I must say it makes a mockery of all the energy the audience put into voting for their favourites – when some of them have other commitments.

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