Les Miserables?

Sep 29, 2023 by

Les Miserables?

Last year it was Will Mellor who came out and blew everyone away with his week 1 jive. As a result, he traded below 3 on Betfair. Nigel proved the star turn on Saturday night with his pimp-slotted paso and he has been loitering around 5 this week (now 4.5).

It’s an interesting comparison because it is hard to identify as many potential flaws in Nigel compared to Will at this, admittedly, very early stage in the series, and yet he has been trading two points bigger.

Will was paired with Nancy and you could spot certain unappealing character traits of his. Nigel is paired with Katya and introduced us to Colin in his training VT which hinted at a dry wit.

Pro partner-wise and personality-wise he looks a stronger proposition and, on paper, an ideal fit with the main demographic of Strictly voter. It is only perhaps Shirley tagging him as ‘the man to beat’ which sets a few alarm bells ringing.

It is no easy task to front run all the way to the Glitterball trophy but Kelvin Fletcher did manage it in 2019 and granted fair and equal treatment Nigel does have the potential to do the same. His paso was superbly executed and already potentially reprisable in the final, exhibiting great timing and Nigel’s natural showmanship commanding the stage.

It would be no surprise if, similar to Kelvin, he proves himself highly consistent over the weeks, and that lilting Stephen Sanchez track looks the ideal vehicle to sell a romantic VW tomorrow night.

It is really the presence of Bobby in this year’s field which has tempered the market’s enthusiasm at this point in Nigel, with Bobby granted favourite status currently around 3.45. Bobby produced a promising foxtrot that was heavy on the twee, choreo-wise, and you can imagine him eliciting plenty of ‘Ahh, isn’t he sweet?’ responses among nans and housewives countrywide.

It is no easy task to front run all the way to the Glitterball trophy but Kelvin Fletcher did manage it in 2019 and granted fair and equal treatment Nigel does have the potential to do the same

The danger will be if the emphasis on the sentimental becomes a recurring theme with the choreo, and it starts to get a bit too samey, with Dianne seemingly keen to cast Bobby as her cutesy younger brother. And the height differential between the two of them is quite glaring.

Like Nigel, Bobby is likely to prove himself a good all-rounder, and given their very obvious appeal, you can probably pencil in both for the final already, unless there is a concerted effort at a hatchet job down the line by TPTB.

A Charleston for Bobby set to that Basement Jaxx track looks, potentially, one of the night’s stand out routines. We will start to see some social media indicators, and polling figures, after tomorrow night’s show and if nothing else, there is scope for a flip flop at the top of the market at some point. Of greater intrigue in this series is trying to figure out the two other contestants who make this year’s final.

There appear to be a few ‘journey’ females the show is aiming to launch. Angela Scanlon had a classic, under-the-radar week 1 with her 23-scoring tango and her chance to shine greater could come as soon as tomorrow with jive that looks a good fit. Her background of Irish dancing means she should be at home with all the speedy timing required for those kicks and flicks, and training footage has looked promising.

Ellie got off to a solid start courtesy of jive which suited her diminutive frame. More of a test will come for her now tasked with a first ballroom in foxtrot. Again, there is a significant height imbalance between her and Vito.

It is always good to get CCC out of the way early in the series run and this may bode well for Annabel’s long-term prospects, with the panel of judges keen to highlight her elegance. She has quickstep and it will be no surprise if ballroom proves her strong point.

Amanda produced an excellent VW which highlighted once more how good Giovanni is, both as a teacher and a choreographer. She could well turn out to be the best all-round dancer on the female side of the competition this year, which will be as good as confirmed if she brings it with her salsa tomorrow night, and her mid-week training VT was encouraging. Her greater task is going to be winning the audience over as she risks coming across as too try-hard.

It is always good to get CCC out of the way early in the series run and this may bode well for Annabel’s long-term prospects, with the panel of judges keen to highlight her elegance

Angela Rippon’s incredible leg extension was one of the undoubted highlights of week 1. It was a clever bit of choreo by Kai and you sense the show is fully invested in helping Angela progress as far as possible, and that probably equates to Blackpool Week. Foxtrot to that Sinatra track looks ideal for another 28+ score for her.

Week 1 judges’ leaderboard:

Nigel and Katya – Paso Doble – (15) – 8, 8, 8, 8 = 32
Layton and Nikita – Samba – (6) – 7, 8, 7, 7 = 29
Bobby and Dianne – Foxtrot – (11) – 6, 7, 8, 8 = 29
Amanda and Giovanni – Viennese Waltz – (13) – 7, 7, 8, 7 = 29
Ellie and Vito – Jive – (9) – 7, 8, 7, 7 = 29
Annabel and Johannes – CCC – (12) – 7, 7, 7, 7 = 28
Angela and Kai – CCC – (4) – 7, 7, 7, 7 = 28
Angela and Carlos – Tango – (2) – 6, 6, 5, 6 = 23
Eddie and Karen – Quickstep – (3) – 4, 6, 6, 6 = 22
Krishnan and Lauren – CCC – (14) – 5, 6, 6, 5 = 22
Jody and Jowita – Quickstep – (10) – 5, 5, 6, 5 = 21
Adam and Luba – CCC – (1) – 4, 5, 5, 5 = 19
Zara and Graziano – CCC – (7) – 3, 6, 5, 5 = 19
Nikita and Gorka – Waltz – (5) – 3, 5, 5, 5 = 18
Les and Nancy – Tango – (8) – 2, 4, 5, 5 = 16

Layton had been expected to be a stand out in week 1 dancing samba. It was a high quality routine but the market refused to buy into him. He may find it hard to harness a big vote, despite his ability, and looks like following a similar trajectory to Fleur East and Molly Rainford last year, and will likely require numerous dance-off saves if he is to make it all the way to the final. His QS tomorrow night looks a banker to be one of the night’s highest scoring routines.

Eddie’s QS last Saturday lacked QS content and also hinted at posture/frame issues ahead for him when it comes to future ballrooms. But there’s a good chance he will be able to shine much more brightly dancing fast Latin, and a CCC to that Celia Cruz track looks ideal for him to impress.

Adam offered up a largely forgettable opening CCC but he should be able to cope better with tango. It’s a similar story with Zara whose long limbs don’t look conducive to the faster dances but she might find herself more at home performing ballroom. Her timing is going to be tested with QS.

Similar to Krishnan in week 1, Les has been handed the ideal sort of track to entertain viewers, and a late running order slot will likely indicate they want Les to survive

Krishnan enjoyed a late running order and a song cherry-picked for him to entertain. A foxtrot gives him the chance to consolidate the good will he would have gained last Saturday.

Jody’s QS felt like one of the underwhelming fillers in week 1 and he at least has a great track for an impactful paso in AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’.

Les finds himself propping up the leaderboard after week 1 and it’s going to be difficult for him to rise above last place now tasked with samba. Does that mean curtains for Les? Possibly not. Similar to Krishnan in week 1 he has been handed the ideal sort of track to entertain viewers, and a late running order slot will likely indicate they want Les to survive.

A Charleston is often used to help a contestant avoid the dance-off but this may not be the case with Nikita. Placed second last after her ropey waltz, she is going to need a complete 180 in terms of ability shown and judges’ scoring to have any chance of surviving.

It will be worth keeping a close eye on Nikita and Zara’s scoring as their lack of profile, and gender, make both of them vulnerable on the pv and you would have to peg them, pre-show, as the most likely bottom two candidates, along with Les who should have scope for a Houdini escape act from last place.

Keep an eye out on Twitter (@EntertainOdds, @ferrisdayoff) tomorrow night for the week 1/2 exit poll we will be running. It offers the chance for a snap window of how the actual vote could be going, and to trade the 1st elimination and Outright markets while they remain open on Betfair prior to voting lines closing.

Please do drop by and cast your vote(s). Here is the link that will open during Saturday night’s show:

Strictly 2023 Exit Poll – Week 1/2

Week 2 dances & songs:

Adam and Luba: Tango to Somebody Told Me by Måneskin
Amanda and Giovanni: Salsa to Oye by Gloria Estefan
Annabel and Johannes: Quickstep to Walking On Sunshine by Katrina & The Waves
Angela R and Kai: Foxtrot to You Make Me Feel So Young by Frank Sinatra
Angela S and Carlos: Jive to Trouble by Shampoo
Bobby and Dianne: Charleston to Do Your Thing by Basement Jaxx
Eddie and Karen: Cha Cha Cha to Rie y Llora by Celia Cruz
Ellie and Vito: Foxtrot to Perfect by Fairground Attraction
Jody and Jowita: Paso Doble to Thunderstruck by AC/DC
Krishnan and Lauren: Foxtrot to Love Really Hurts Without You by Billy Ocean
Layton and Nikita: Quickstep to Puttin’ On The Ritz by Gregory Porter
Les and Nancy: Samba to Rock The Boat by Hues Corporation
Nigel and Katya: Viennese Waltz to Until I Found You by Stephen Sanchez
Nikita and Gorka: Charleston to Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) by Beyoncé
Zara and Graziano: Quickstep to Anyone For You (Tiger Lily) by George Ezra


  1. Stoney

    Hi Rob, a decent night for the females last night, and swings the pendulum in the favour of the female winner I believe they will push for. The only thorn in the side would be Nigel, who at this early stage looks the default likely winner. However, we did see signs they would be happy enough to derail him if need be.

    • Rob

      Hi Stoney. Similar week 2 dip for Nigel like Kelvin in his year if you take a look back. They often have celebs towards the top of the week 1/2 lb who completely fall away. When you look at the trajectory of Stacey and Rose, you have reason to be delighted with Angela S’s position atm esp. on the back of what to my eyes was an outstanding jive, underscored on the night imho.

      • Stoney

        I’m glad you see the Angela underscoring as a positive in the same way I do Rob. If it was the business end then it obviously wouldn’t be. But judging by the comments paired with the underscoring you have to believe they are setting her up for the journey. The other female competition scoring too high to early to be able to go down that route now, which is now almost certainly the only way you could get the public to favour a female over a MEM vote magnet like Nigel.

  2. Stoney

    Song choices out. My immediate thoughts were, 3 jives? One of them for the favourite Nigel, I imagine he will score the highest but it looks another method of surpressing his early vote momentum by lumbering him in 3dance repetition cluster. Angela is going to absolutely smash the Charleston. I think this time next week the odds are considerably closer if not flipped.

    • Rob

      Hi Stoney. A curious choice of music for Nigel’s jive for sure. Dressed up as the Dynamic Duo… it’s really the sort of thing you’d expect to have been given to Tony Adams last year for the laughs.

      I also think Angela S’s Charleston should be a stand-out on the night.

      • Stoney

        Hi Rob, it will certainly be interesting to see his treatment Saturday night. I would expect mild praise. All they need to to see him off is contain his vote week on week, and ease him into a semi final dance off with Layton. I am surprised Angelas odds are still higher than Bobby. This must be down to the market not being able to work out which female is going to get producer support.

  3. Lucy

    I can’t decide whether to go for Angela S or Bobby. He’s adorable and would get my vote however, I need to think with my head and not my heart!

    • Rob

      Hi Lucy. It’s an intriguing series at this point & you can make a solid case for both Bobby and Angela S. Lots of twists and turns still to come, I’m sure. Both Bobby and Angela S could have a good night tomorrow. Looking forward to the show.

    • Rob

      Thanks Lucy. The fast Latins are going to be highly informative – all with appropriate songs but technique well & truly tested.

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