Nat vs Pat?

Dec 12, 2013 by

Nat vs Pat?

It’s the Strictly semi-final. Usually by this stage we have a strong idea who is going to win. Not this year as first off, it is going to come down to the whims of the producers in deciding who they want in the final, and who is in the firing line to be eliminated this weekend.

Last week’s quarter-final was a masterclass in getting Ashley into the bottom 2 and off the show. They put him on first, gave him praise while still finding ways to criticise him, and then came a fifth successive score of 35pts, giving the impression he had made no progress.

Meanwhile, they teed up huge motivation for Susanna’s fans to get behind her, placing her last on the leaderboard, and hauling her and Kevin off within only about 20 seconds of the swing-a-thon.

The swing-a-thon was a clear mechanism to manipulate the leaderboard while cleverly maintaining at least one tie. What we ended up with was this:

Natalie & Artem – 35 + 6 = 41 (6)
Patrick & Anya – 36 + 5 = 41 (6)
Abbey & Aljaz – 37 + 3 = 40 (5)
Sophie & Brendan – 34 + 4 = 38 (4)
Ashley & Ola – 35 + 2 = 37 (3)
Susanna & Kevin – 32 + 1 = 33 (2)

That contrived tie at the top between Natalie and Patrick, pushing them both ahead of Abbey, was very likely a key component in manoeuvring Ashley into the bottom 2, as was moving Sophie ahead of Ashley, leaving him with only 3pts.

The thinking here is Susanna and Sophie both have a very consistent, robust public vote and are probably polling 1st and 2nd. Ashley’s salsa would have been a vote-winning routine which very likely landed him 3rd highest on the public vote on the night, equating to 4pts, and 7pts overall.

We can only speculate that Abbey is polling higher than both Natalie and Patrick, and Patrick is polling last. By giving both Patrick and Natalie 6pts this meant Natalie would achieve 8pts overall and ensure her safety, while condemning Ashley to the dance-off versus Patrick. That is the read here anyway.

There is a strong argument that Patrick has served his purpose on the show now. As speculated here a few weeks ago, he had the look of this year’s ideal Top Male – advised at 18-1 – as he represents no threat to a female winner, and with Ashley gone there is no need to try and protect Patrick now by over-scoring him.

The counter-argument is, they may still want him in the final as this year’s token male, even though he would be destined to finish 4th. His bounce this week, however, is likely to be minimal and it is very hard to see him avoiding the dance-off.

If he is in the dance-off, this would be his 3rd appearance in the bottom 2 which might suggest it will be difficult for the judges to justify saving him. Mark, of course, finished bottom 2 three times in a row and was saved each time.

Whoever is in the dance-off will reprise their best-scoring routine out of their 2 dances. It is very hard to imagine Patrick being saved over either Natalie or Abbey, but he could realistically be saved over Sophie or Susanna.

The question is, why would they want to get rid of either of the 2 contestants who are proving most popular with viewers? By jettisoning one at the semi-final stage, this would appear to tee up the survivor to go on and win the series.

Sophie would have her vote-winning and very likely maximum-scoring Charleston to reprise in the final; Susanna would have her vote-winning and very likely maximum-scoring paso from Blackpool to reprise in the final. It would surely make far more sense, from a producer’s perspective, to have both Sophie and Susanna in the final to tee up a showdown between the 2 contestants who are presumably leading the public vote.

It looks like each remaining contestant has an easy to score highly in dance and a more difficult to score highly in dance. Abbey and Sophie’s American Smooths, Patrick’s waltz, Susanna’s foxtrot and Natalie’s Argentine tango look teed up for high scores.

You would have to assume Natalie will do a quality salsa and Abbey will do a decent samba. Patrick and Sophie’s pasos might be a bit tougher to score highly with as will Susanna’s salsa. That said, in early training footage Susanna impressed and it looks like she has a couple of dances that are going to suit her much better than her recent Argentine tango and cha cha cha.

It looks an odds-on shot that Natalie and Abbey will be vying for the top 2 places on the combined leaderboard. If they want to try and keep them safe they will place Nat 1st and Abbey 2nd. Where the other 3 are positioned is a lot trickier to predict.

If Sophie is placed 3rd on the leaderboard and Susanna last, it will likely be Susanna in the dance-off vs Patrick despite possibly topping the public vote. If Patrick is placed 3rd on the leaderboard it could more likely be Sophie who finds herself in the dance-off vs Patrick. If Nat and Abbey are tied for 1st with Sophie 4th and Susanna 5th, it will likely be a Patrick vs Natalie dance-off. If Patrick is last on the leaderboard, Natalie top of the leaderboard and Abbey 2nd on the leaderboard with no ties, it will likely be a Patrick vs Natalie dance-off. All clear?

Given any leaderboard ties look like being bad news for Natalie and the real possibility Patrick has served his purpose on the show and could easily now be placed last on the leaderboard, Natalie looks a shade of value at 5-2 with Paddy Power to end up in the bottom 2.

It is worth remembering last year’s best dancer Denise Van Outen ended up bottom 2 in the semi-final in a likely pre-meditated move to try and boost her final vote, which it did, enabling her to finish 2nd. The producers may have the same idea in mind for Natalie. But this is certainly a week when you are best saving any significant bottom 2 and elimination investments for live in-running trading.

At least all the remaining contestants can be happy with more suitable song choices this week. This is the full list of semi-final dances and songs:

Patrick & Anya – Paso Doble to ‘Because the Night’ by The Patti Smith Group; Waltz to the Righteous Brothers ‘Unchained Melody’.
Abbey & Aljaz – American Smooth to Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’; Samba to George Michael’s ‘Faith’.
Sophie & Brendan – Paso Doble to ‘Montagues and Capulets’ by Prokofiev; American Smooth to Lisa Stansfield’s  ‘They Can’t Take That Away From Me’.
Susanna & Kevin – Foxtrot to Frankie Valli’s ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’; Salsa to ‘Move Your Feet’ by Junior Senior.
Natalie & Artem – Argentine Tango to ‘Montserrat’ by Bajofondo; Salsa to Michael Jackson’s ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Something’.

62 Comments

  1. Guildo Horn Forever

    Took the 9/4 for Nat earlier in the week. So much for the early bird catching the value!

  2. zoomraker

    Montagues and Capulets Is an amazing choice of music for Sophie.

    If it wasn’t for strategic considerations about wanting to get Patrick into the final I could easily see her getting 10s for this.

    Go to 1 minute 12 on the YouTube and listened to the main refrain. With Brendan’s choreography this will be mind blowing and have a far more powerful impact than Suzanna’s Paso to Carmen.

    I’m starting to think that the choice of this music, which I believe is made by the producers? Is a signal that the producers have decided to get behind Sophie as their preferred winner.

    She may not be on the tour but in many ways she is by far the best winner for the brand.

    Beautiful hip young and happening and with a new album out that looks like it will be successful.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LSxpxjMQ9c

  3. Rob

    It’s all about the routine though, zoom, & paso doesn’t seem a natural fit with Sophie’s laid back, dispassionate demeanour.

    Seems a lot of Specials forumites have become totally smitten with Sophie in this series & it is maybe influencing their betting positions.

    Ultimately, my view is her dancing hasn’t been good enough since that Charleston & she is the weakest among the 4 remaining women. But that Charleston could yet push her close to winning.

  4. zoomraker

    I’ll confess I’m completely smitten with my Sophie green and I am clearly trying to think of reasons and arguments for why she can win rather than why she can’t.

    I suppose I see Susannah as the biggest threats but Susannah isn’t the best dancer either!

    I don’t think we’ve seen evidence that Sophie can’t do mean and moody, I think we’ve seen evidence she can do dramatic.

    It’s just slutty she doesn’t do.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Haven’t been unfailingly watching the weekly training footage but it seems every time to conclude with Patrick, with footage of him joking about and laughing.

      This has of course coincided with the preferential treatment of Patrick on the show.

      I would have liked to have seen a break of the pattern with the training footage, just as a kind of confirmation that he indeed being readied for the old heave-ho.

  5. Guildo Horn Forever

    Hi Rob,

    I read your early comments on Monday (I think) regarding this Saturday’s likelihoods and was in total agreement. Didn’t add a comment as I had nothing to add!

    Did have a look at the 2/9 that was on offer for Patrick to be B2. Not my kind of price, but it does seem inconceivable that he will finish anywhere but B2.

    Just looking again at the elimination markets. I’m reminded of the other week when I didn’t back Ben to be eliminated (at about 8s). I’d had a medium sized bet on him the week previous to go, and hadn’t stuck with my feelings into the next week.

    Had a look-see at that training footage and blimey SEB seems to be struggling.

    If, just if, Sophie B, finds herself in that B2 with Patrick it’s not impossible that she could be on her way home. Patrick could well score higher than her on the judge’s leaderboard scores, yes? That’s a definite possiblity.

    So, there’s no way she should be a widely available 8/1 chance to go.
    9/4 to B2…but 8/1 to be eliminated.
    Am sensing big value.

    P.S. My word! How right were you about Susanna’s true odds?! Have just checked the outrights.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Actually Rob, I meant to ask: do you think Natalie was deramped last week? I was shocked to hear Craig describe Natalie as too ‘slick’. It immediately made me think if this was an oblique dig at Natalie’s previous professional experience. Len too seemed to be making an indirect slight, hinting at the lack of chemistry between Natalie and Artem.

      The top marks for Nat in the Swingathon may have been more about protecting Natalie for reason of further ensuring Ashley’s B2 appearance. The judges were free to get stuck in to Nat’s performance earlier in the evening, knowing the Swingaton score she was going to receive later would elevate her out of trouble.

      Will be v interested to see what they feedback to her this weekend.

    • Rob

      Yes, I would definitely agree Guildo. Based on training footage Sophie looked to be struggling. She is simply too languid and there is always a lack of sharpness in her topline.

      Those Nat comments were interesting. Maybe they are trying to tee up viewers for the scenario she is not going to win. They have probably looked at the voting figs and concluded this.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        The 14s for Natalie to be eliminated looks too big. I sensed a v harsh edge to last week’s comments for her, plus the easy Swingathon points both Patrick and Natalie seemed to get will likely count against them this week. The public will have noticed.

        If Susanna and Sophie are as popular with the public as they seem, then SCD might give the public what the public wants.

        Abbey seems to be the judges’ pet project, they rewarded her with the first perfect score of the series only the other week, and she’s already B2’d this series so I imagine Abbey being the number 1 girl to protect.

        I notice that last week (for the first time in the series) Patrick outscored Natalie, with his dance.

        It’s not impossible for Natalie to lose the dance-off against Patrick, especially as it’s not known if (BBC boy) Patrick is required as token male fodder for the final.

        • Think you’ve put my thoughts into words perfectly there. Even though I preferred the Natalie bottom 2 bet at the start of the week, we know what this show is capable of. They could easily construe an situation whereby they keep Patrick over Natalie on the basis of both score and progression in the contest.

          What would be the benefit of doing so?

          The ‘no one is safe’ & ‘vote for your winner’ tag attached to the final, in addition to having a token male.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Great point, Gav.

            Been doing extra thinking around the SCD elimination markets and have come up with some more angles.

            Probably a few months ago now, on another site, I posted this link:

            http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/9098732/BBC-boss-banned-me-for-speaking-out-claims-black-actor.html

            …and wrongly concluded from it that Patrick might be earmarked for only a limited run in BBC’s Strictly season this year. As I watched my initial fancy Ash’s blatant under-marking,I realised the error of my ways.

            In fact, this background story might have been another reason why Patrick, a 50 year old black man,had to be saved over the dashing, white early 30s Ashley. Yes? Patrick has no grounds for discrimination now, does he?

            A month ago or so, a commentator on this site pointed out that the right-on BBC might like a black contestant in their SCD final.

            Well, there’s Patrick and there’s mixed-race Natalie who both provide the gleam of ethnic representation.

            Natalie and DVO (from last year) are often compared. But Natalie, unlike Denise, wasn’t a beloved celebrity entering into this competition, and she’s done absolutely nothing since her arrival to endear herself to the nation. I wonder if the judges find her a bit fake, too?

            I thought earlier in SCD that Abbey was being protected solely because she had B2’d v early into the run and SCD wanted to protect the high quality women dancers.

            But given that she received the first (and so far only) 40 of the series and seems loved by the judges could it be that she is TCO?

            In which case, Natalie had better watch her step. The judges’ barbs for Natalie last week genuinely startled me. Awarding her the top mark of 6 in the Swingathon did her a favour in last week’s show but will not necessarily have done her favours for this week.

            Abbey is a technically excellent female dancer with terrific chemistry with her dance partner, and with a likeability factor.

            Natalie is a technically excellent female dancer, comes across as a person with no compassion, and with having no chemistry with her partner, Artem. I think Artem doesn’t like her…and then there’s another reason he may be keeping his distance:

            http://metro.co.uk/2013/12/12/strictly-come-dancings-kara-tointon-and-artem-chigvintsevs-relationship-on-the-rocks-4227960/

            In last week’s choreography for himself and Natalie, he seemed to be disassociating himself from her!

            Now if the right-on BBC want rid of Natalie (because she is just unremittingly unpopular), what better opportunity to vote her off than in a dance-off against a black man? It would be a publicity-generating shock result, but there could be no accusations of bias about the all-white judging panel. Plus Patrick outscored her last week, while Natalie was deramped. It’s just, just, about a justifiable decision from a dance ability perspective.

            And who would pick up the votes from Natalie? I assert it would definitely be Abbey. The support for Natalie is from people who appreciate her dance skill; or from people who admire her go-get dedication. Either way: that support will mainly transfer to Abbey. Abbey has top-scored 4 times on the weekly leaderboard, and achieved the perfect score just two weeks ago.

            Why the SCD Abbey love?

            Looking over the list of Strictly winners, I see the last 4 have been Southerners. Tom Chambers was born in the East Midlands (which can sort of be considered Northern). The only two undisputedly Northern-raised winners have benn Darren Gough and Jill Halfpenny, back in 2005 and 2004 respectively.

            Do Strictly want a Scouse winner? Is that the North West representation from the winner’s list that they want to tick-box? Is this a related reason to the introduction of, and suitably monikered, ‘Kevin from Grimsby’ this season?

            Am wildly speculating -which I find fun and do for it’s own sake!- but wouldn’t it be lovely if Patrick, who’s served up that 18/1 winner last week, provides a 14/1 winner this week, courtesy of Natalie’s dismissal?

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Oh! and an extra thought:

            Saving the (in Craig’s words)’best male dancer’ Patrick over Natalie provides Strictly with the perfect cover / disguise / counter to any notion that this series has been geared to producing a female winner.

            A) There’s that [no hoper] Patrick competing in the final.
            B) The best dancer in the series, Natalie, had just been dumped out in favour of a bloke dancer.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            And this would point to a scorebaord order of for instance:

            1st – Abbey
            2nd – Susanna
            3rd (joint) – Patrick
            3rd (joint) – Natalie
            5th – Sophie

            Based on what I’m theorising and with certain impressions of the brief training room footage:

            Highest score – Abbey (massive scores so as to be able to still mark Nat And Pat highly but keep them down the pecking order.

            Lowest score – Sophie – based on the training room footage.

            Patrick and Natalie – Patrick no lower than tied with Natalie, to allow room to justify sending Natalie home.

          • Love your theories above and agree with your leader board totals.

            ITT is going made for Abbey & Aljaz once again this week. Just adding to my stakes before another Saturday price drop.

          • Interesting watching ITT; they really planted the seed that the show needs a male in the final.

        • Rob

          I don’t think their weekly panel on ITT is a very reliable guide, Gav.

          We are all 2nd guessing the prods but I have backed both Sophie and Susanna for elimination again this week, as insurance, as they are far & away my biggest greens.

          I think they are going to give Natalie high scores for her AT, Guildo. Still expect a leaderboard top 2 of Nat and Abbey. Below those 2, it is difficult to predict.

    • Brilliant! It confirms the exact order we’ve assumed for few weeks now.

      Does the Star have form for Strictly voting leaks?

      • Rob

        Yes it does Gav. It has always proved accurate with its vote leaks for XF & SCD.

        The one note of caution is they could still contrive a leaderboard that forces Susanna into the b2.

        The year Tom Chambers was topping the pv, they tried to get him in the semi-final only for the Beeb to be hounded by viewers pointing out the leaderboard meant even if he topped the pv, he could not escape the dance-off so they put all 3 couples through to the final.

        The only reason I can think of is they may not like the prospect of another Beeb ‘in-houser’ winning the show.

        • I’d say 1/3 of that vote is for ‘Kevin from Grimsby.’

        • Boki

          Hi Rob, can this be seen as an attempt to dampen Susanne’s vote a little bit? If they really would want her out by contriving such a leaderboard and losing to Patrick, why would an insider leak the data at such a moment? Now the public knows that she tops the vote, wouldn’t it do a damage to the show if they dump her in the semi?

          • Rob

            No, I don’t think so Boki. Most SCD viewers would not even be aware of this D.Star story. It is really only the tv betting fraternity & DS loons who are obsessed by this sort of stuff.

          • Rob

            My approach to trading is safety first, Boki. I try & get myself in all-green positions. I have an aversion to reds. I am always looking at the worst case scenario & what might scupper my trading position. I have learnt over the years that it is best to be cautious.

            Luckily, this series of Strictly has been a trader’s dream. I have been able to back all of Nat, Soph, Suze & Abbey at double figure prices. Susanna remains my biggest green, followed by Sophie, followed by Abbey, followed by Natalie, followed by Patrick because that is the order I see it with the pv.

  6. Rob

    Coral has highest/lowest scorer markets. The value in lowest scorer looks to be Sophie at 5-1.

    • Agree with that. Was going to leave these markets well alone, but 5/1 does seem a tad high. Let’s see if they’ll allow an Abbey top scorer double?!

      • I wanna know who got the 11s on Abbey top-scorer! Catastrophic pricing there.

        • Rob

          I don’t believe those oddschecker price movements. Susanna Reid showing at 25-1 initially to be lowest scorer. Now Evens. Hmm…?

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          11/1? That’s incomprehensible. Mind-blowing value.

          Looking at the lowest score market odds, it seems to be loosely based on last weeks scores – and nothing else.

          So wait a minute – Abbey was priced up at 11/1 to be tonight’s highest scorer, and at 16/1 to be tonight’s lowest scorer?

          Eh?

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            …and in a field of 5 competitors.

          • It was pointed out to me sometime ago by a reliable source, that most of the high st bookies do not have dedicated novelty traders, and of those that do, most do not actually watch the shows.

          • Rob

            I don’t believe those prices, Guildo. This has been a series-long trend with Coral. I have it on good authority when you manage to get the bigger price with Coral, they then question it in shop & claim the price was shorter.

            You can always take it up with IBAS but the rules are set up in the bookies’ favour.

          • steve

            Hi those prices werent for this week. They will have been left in the system from last week. So when Coal put the market up the 2/1 Abbey for this week replaces the 11/1 from lat week in the oddschecker system.
            They shouldnt let you do highest/lowest scorer doubles as they are obviously related. That said in their shops anything is possible.

  7. Rob

    r.o. looks like:

    Nat – salsa
    Pat – waltz
    Sophie – paso
    Susanna – foxtrot
    Abbey – samba

    Nat – AT
    Pat – paso
    Sophie – AS
    Susanna – salsa
    Abbey – AS

    Can we infer Abbey v. likely to top leaderboard from pimp slot?

  8. My scoring table still saying Nat vs Pat. Don’t understand the rush on Sophie’s price given the leaks so far.

  9. Rob

    5-2 in-running Nat looking a gift. Pretty confident it’ll be Pat vs Nat with Pat departing.

  10. Abbey TCO for me. I just wonder whether they can get the public on board, as it’s rather late in the day?

    The voting leak suggested it was close between Sophie, Natalie & Abbey, and there was some deramping for Susanna & Sophie tonight, so it might get close.

    Natalie is now a red for me and I’m fine with it.

  11. Patrick out Natalie saved

  12. Rob

    Called it spot on. A nice 5-2 winner.

    Abbey’s trouble is she doesn’t have a wow dance to reprise like Susanna and Sophie do.

    Susanna should have paso and waltz; Sophie obviously Charleston.

    Will Nat be able to bounce into the top 3? Personally, have my doubts. Abbey far more voteable.

    Don’t forget – likely to be like last year. 4th place announced. Then it’ll be the last 3 couples & they will announce the winner, so we won’t know who is 2nd or 3rd like last year.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Well done, Rob. Excellent tipping as virtually always.

      As for me: I think my tendency for wild speculating gets the better of me sometimes…

      • Rob

        There’s nothing wrong in speculating the way you did regarding Natalie, Guildo. I think it is often the route to landing decent-priced winners on these shows. You never know. Natalie could have tripped over in the dance-off. I took a small piece of 25-1 just in case.

        When you look back at the coverage on Patrick, it was that similar sort of speculating that led to a 16-1 winner in the Top Male market.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          I think I have too many bets, can be a bit trigger happy sometimes, and need to learn to be more selective.

          Cutting down on the losing bets might be a useful and profitable focus for me.

          Re XF: was delighted with Sam Bailey’s victory. Tipped her pre-lives to win and took the 10/1. Tipped Nic for 2nd as well and the EW from him was fine too. Just wish I hadn’t backed Hannah…three bloody times!

          • Same here with Hannah! (and Abi).

            What are you thoughts on Abbey, Guildo?

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Hi Gav,

            Just been writing and speculating and in an extensive dialogue at “the other place(!)” about Abbey (and Susanna).

            Wish I’d had a piece of that 4/1 yesterday. That disappeared pronto. She’s TP of 3/1 now.

            Am curious if there’s any SF markets upcoming. I remember last year when Rob gave great advice about SF betting on the final combined with a profitable reading of the possible implications of SCD not officially announcing who placed 2nd (as distinct from 3rd – with their being two runners-up announced, but no ordering given).

            As best as I recall, and would imagine, you are focusing in on getting a large priced runner into that top 3? The one who may finish 3rd, but you win and take advantage of the Beeb’s system of weird official placings and the dead-heat rules re forecast betting.

            Rob will clarify!

          • Yes, I read your thoughts and Abbey is an interesting prospect.

            I already have her 15/1 e/w and outright, plus a nice green on BF if she wins. Given the leaks, could Susanna be beatable?

            I’m not so sure! Abbey & Aljaz are my favourite dancers. Abbey’s had the perfect journey: from novice to an accomplished and stylish performer.

            The trouble is that Susanna has the BBC vote locked in and Kevin attracts a large proportion of the northern vote.

            Like X Factor, does Strictly pick up a large proportion of new viewers during the final? Even then, new viewers would be wowed by Sophie’s Charleston!

          • Tasha

            Gavster, i’m wondering the same re Susanna and the voting trends with SCD compared to X Factor. I know that the SCD voters are a complete different kettle of fish to X Factor voters but need some expert opinion as new to SCD betting 🙂

          • It’s difficult because unlike ITV, the BBC do not publish voting statistics.

            My own opinion would be that the Strictly audience are more of a select club and it would be rare to get the uninitiated tuning in for the final and voting.

            It’s easy to watch X Factor and judge the singing, yet Strictly requires more attention and a passing knowledge of the dances.

            The more interesting question would be whether people are more prone to vote for their favourite celeb, or reward who they deem to be the week’s best dancer. If 1/4 of the regular viewers do reward the week’s best dancer, then we might be in for a different result than presently anticipated.

            Rob will be your man for that question though!

          • Tasha

            Ok, thanks Gavster!! Will await Robs take on this then 🙂

            Surely come the final the voting public will see sense and vote for someone based on their dancing skills rather than their popularity and their dancing partners region? All sounds a bit X Factor to me!

            I have been looking at previous winners/runners up but can’t work out if the popularity of the winner has out weighed their dancing skills?

      • Rob

        Thanks for posting, Tasha. Popularity does outweigh dancing skill would be my view. We have often seen winners who were not the best dancers in their series. This trend has been partly generated by the fact the Strictly vote heavily favours handsome, white, middle England-friendly males.

        Last year, Denise VO was best but Louis Smith won. In 2010, Matt Baker was best imho but Kara Tointon won. It required some serious deramping of Matt and ramping of Kara – with her blossoming romance with Artem used in her VTs – to get her over the line 1st.

        In 2009 Riki Whittle was best but Chris Hollins won. In 2008, I think Lisa Snowdon was best but Tom Chambers won. In 2007, Alesha probably was best and won, though it required an unsubtle hatchet job of Gethin Jones in the semi-final to ensure Alesha won.

        Viewers are looking for something more than outstanding technique. It is sometimes about the ‘journey’, and also a lot to do with the chemistry in the partnership and the public buying into the partnership.

        This is somewhat new territory for SCD this year in having a female-only final. The ‘wow’ dances will help gain votes, which gives Sophie and Susanna a distinct advantage in that they can call upon arguably the 2 most impactful routines of the series – Sophie’s Charleston and Susanna’s paso doble.

        I think viewers do have their favourites and they stick with them. The D.Star told us Chris Hollins was topping the pv & he went on to win, and it is looking a similar situation with Susanna this year.

        No doubt the final will generate the most votes of the series but however it plays out I would be most confident Nat will not be winning despite her excellence. Viewers have just not bought into her partnership with Artem. There is no chemistry there.

        Abbey has been a revelation and probably changed a lot of viewers’ original perception of her. Her problem is despite getting 40 for her salsa, it is not a proper ‘wow’ dance. And while she has had a number of high scoring dances, like Nat, none of them quite have the proper ‘wow’ factor.

        If it was voted for by ‘Nuts’ readers she would win easily but this is the BBC. An amazing showdance could still sway things and we don’t know how the judges are going to play it, who they are really going to push on the night. So it is by no means clear cut.

        • Tasha

          Viewers are looking for something more than outstanding technique. It is sometimes about the ‘journey’, and also a lot to do with the chemistry in the partnership and the public buying into the partnership.

          Abbey has had a journey and you can’t deny the partnership between Aljaz.

          Looking at Sophies charleston, that was really good. Its a dance which really suits her demeanour.

          Ive made the costly mistake of backing a short favourite before and am always reluctant to do so again however, Susannas price will only shorten further during the week and come the weekend, i’ll regret not backing her at the price she is now!

          I hate these situations!! 🙁

          • Sophie’s price is the most likely to shorten given she has the Charleston to reprise. She’s around 6s right now, that should shorten to about 3-3.5 in running.

            A cautionary note would be Sophie & Brendan’s treatment to date. I wouldn’t be surprised if Len suggested he preferred the Charleston the first time around to stunt Sophie’s chances.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Very good point, Gav, about the cautionary note over Sophie’s Charleston. A bet on Sophie almost equates to a bet on that Charleston, yet it’s impact could be lessened by unfavourable critiques.

            The judges have been very picky with Sophie nearly all season. Whereas, Abbey is consistently praised and scored to the rooftops. It must be obvious to everyone that Natalie just isn’t popular enough to win and so it will be judges’ favourite, Abbey, who will be pushed for the win.

            I’ve just had a look at Susanna’s Paso. First time I’ve seen it. The music, look, spectacle and so on are wonderfully stirring, sexy and invigorating. Kevin’s dancing is exciting to watch.

            But it’s all about Kevin. It’s really Kevin’s show. Frankly, Susanna still looks laboured in her movements. Even her clapping lacks crispness.

            I think this Paso suits her -which it does- because her basic slowness is disguised. Imagine Natalie in Susanna’s place in that dance. Now, there’s a complete row of 10s.

            Punting-wise I would love Susanna to win, but it would be a travesty if the worst dancer, by some distance, of the 4 ladies in the final prevails.

            I think Rachel Riley was a better dancer than Susanna.

            Actually, if Susanna’s movement reminds me of anyone, it’s Deborah Meaden.

          • Interesting to see Abbey topping a few polls. The Dspy one is a surprise, as I expected that one to support Sophie.

            Is there a president for this Rob? I know we’re in new territory in terms of an all female final, but has the show been able to change public opinion to this extent before?

          • Tasha

            I noticed that too Gav but then thought that the majority of people on DS would be of the younger generation who and not your ‘typical’ SDC viewer – who as you put it – the Strictly audience are more of a select club.

        • Rob

          I think both Abbey and Sophie are a classic fit in generating DS love, and Susanna has the ideal profile as the contestant they love to hate.

          DS is the home for forum obsessives who become entrenched in their views, vociferous in their like/dislike, and often end up as a collective in being opposed to the established order and what they see as some kind of conspiracy against the one(s) they support.

          I have never paid much attention to any DS polls or any online polls with respect to SCD. They are mainly a platform for those who want to shout loudest, are certainly skewed to a younger demographic, and represent a tiny percentage of the overall Strictly voting audience.

          Many SCD punters have been put away this series by convincing themselves Sophie is walking it on the pv by using the likes of DS and TellyMix as their barometers. For me, this is a completely flawed approach.

          Both Abbey and Sophie appeal to a younger voter. A very high percentage of SCD voters are older and would not be expressing their opinion online.

          Kimberley was the darling of DS last year with all the momentum heading into the final if you believed these online polls. She ended up finishing 3rd.

          Abbey has won people over maybe more than any previous female contestant on Strictly. I think that is fair to say.

          • I have been dismissive of DSpy to date, but I was more encouraged by the differing result between the forum poll and their homepage poll. I have never bought into the Sophie argument; she’s a one-dance-wonder in my eyes.

            I totally agree with you about the Susanna angle and that the older demographic won’t have influenced those polls as much as the youth.

            It’s an intriguing first series for me!

  13. I think Abbey’s Tango & Waltz were stunning. My fav dances of the season.

  14. Rob

    Abbey and Aljaz:
    Judges’ Choice: The Waltz to “Kissing You” by Des’ree.
    Showdance: “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns N Roses
    Couples’ Favourite: The Quickstep to “Walking On Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves

    Natalie and Artem:
    Judges’ Choice: The Cha Cha to Boney M’s “Rasputin”
    Showdance: “Steppin’ Out with My Baby” by Christina Aguilera and Tony Bennett
    Couples’ Favourite: American Smooth to Jennifer Hudson’s “And I’m Telling You, I’m Not Going”

    Sophie and Brendan:
    Judges’ Choice: Viennese Waltz to “My Favourite Things” by Julie Andrews
    Showdance: “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston
    Couples’ Favourite: The Charleston to “Rock It For Me” by Caravan Palace

    Susanna and Kevin:
    Judges’ Choice: The Quickstep to Tommy Steele’s “Good Morning”
    Showdance: “Your Song” by Ewan MacGregor
    Couples’ Favourite: The Paso Doble to Carmen’s “Los Toreadors”

    • Tasha

      Who do you think they are favouring judging by this information? I know nothing about SCD!!

      • Rob

        I am planning to write a final preview tomorrow, Tasha.

        At first glance, Susanna’s showdance song looks like a gem.

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