Queen Victoria Set To Reign

Sep 13, 2012 by

Queen Victoria Set To Reign

The Strictly cast this year looks a hint in itself they would probably like to try and get another woman over the line, with far more strength in depth on the female side among the 14 contestants set to take to the dance floor – our eye immediately drawn to the potential of Dani Harmer, Denise Van Outen, Kimberley Walsh and Victoria Pendleton.

The reason they might prefer a female champion in 2012 is due to the fact Strictly’s public vote is strongly weighted in favour of a popular male with Middle England appeal winning the show.

Time and again the Strictly audience has struggled to warm to attractive females enough, the likes of Louisa Lytton, Emma Bunton, Lisa Snowdon, Rachel Stevens, Laila Rouass, Ali Bastion, Holly Vallance and Chelsee Healey all falling short, regardless of many of those proving themselves dancers of a potentially series-winning standard.

Chelsee came close last year finishing runner-up behind Harry Judd and arguably her finishing position was aided by her being slightly less glamorous looking than some of those other ladies listed.

Without editorial intervention, we would have likely had a winner’s list in the last seven series of: Darren Gough, Mark Ramprakesh, Gethin Jones, Tom Chambers, Chris Hollins, Matt Baker, Harry Judd. Only Alesha Dixon (series 5) and Kara Tointon (series 8) have broken this male stranglehold, and they both required the machinations of TPTB to ensure their victory, Kara boosted by a heavily played upon behind-the-scenes burgeoning romance between her and Artem.

Rumours that the dance-off format is returning in this series – with the bottom 2 dancing off at the end of the show, and the judges then deciding who to save – potentially gives show-makers a handy mechanism to get rid of the most dangerous male (on the public vote) standing in the way of a female victory in the series’ latter stages.

The best evidence of this kind of behaviour came in the 3-couple semi-final back in series 5 when Gethin Jones was lumbered with the hard-to-score-highly-in paso doble. After a 34 (placing him last on the leaderboard) and dancing his Argentine tango last of the 3, he was left in a position whereby even if he scored a perfect 40, he would not overtake Alesha, or the inferior dancer Matt Di Angelo. It was a contrived evening set up to ensure Gethin only got 1 point from the judges, forcing him into the dance-off. The judges duly saved Matt and the final went on to become a procession for Alesha.

And let’s not forget series 6 when the outstanding Austin Healy was eliminated in week 12 following a dance-off, with Tom Chambers facing dance-off elimination in the semi-final the following week before they gave him a last minute reprieve due to a scoreboard technicality. Without that U-turn, which the show was forced into by viewers, it would have been Rachel Stevens and Lisa Snowdon fighting it out for the Strictly crown.

Of course, things are a little different now. Assuming no one drops out during this series, the 14-runner field will be cut down to five couples by the time of the semi-final, with 2 couples presumably biting the dust there, before a 3-couple final on December 22.

It is unclear at the time of writing if a dance-off will play any role in this year’s semi-final but it is worth noting it could be a series-changer, and potential boost to the chances of a female winner. And regardless of dance-offs, as we saw with the Kara Tointon/Matt Baker battle in 2010, relentless ramping/de-ramping can also work the oracle in helping a female win, and taming the vote of the most popular male.

Former girl band members have a history of high finishes but ultimate failure, Rachel Stevens runners-up spot in series 6 being the high water mark to date. What does this tell us about Kimberley Walsh’s chances? Probably that she is a strong contender (possibly paired with Pasha) & a likely candidate to be in the final 5. This is factored into her best price of 5-1 which isn’t very appealing but we certainly won’t be red on her.

Dani looks like she might be a pocket rocket in the Louisa Lytton and Chelsee Healey mould, and rumours she is paired with pint-sized Vincent make sense. We see some potential here –but not enough to recommend backing her just yet.

Denise Van Outen is likely to come out of the starting stalls like a dancing Frankel and the early indications are she’s paired with James Jordan. With her West End experience she’ll be excellent but will the Strictly audience warm to her somewhat brash, ballsy persona, and penalise her due to that experience? We’re not sure, which makes 7-2 not especially appealing. But again, we’ll be keeping her in the green as she looks like cruising into the latter stages of the series.

Given Strictly’s male winner bias, it is counter-intuitive to go and then advise a female, but advise a female we will in the shape of Victoria Pendleton. She’s been Tweeting that expectations regarding her dance ability should be kept to the bare minimum. We hope she starts moderately, giving her room to become a classic journey contestant. Certainly being a complete novice in the dance stakes, compared to the likes of Kimberley and Denise, is a potential positive for her at the outset of the show, as is the fact she gains a natural level of good will and support by being one of the heroes of Team GB.

As an Olympian she is sure to throw herself into the training regime, and she has the glamourous looks and figure to really look the part on the dance floor. She came across as emotionally fragile (today also revealing her self-harming past) but also extremely down-to-earth, open, and genuine in the Olympic documentary charting her progress towards London 2012, and certainly charismatic. The hope is she maintains the same sort of humility she showed in that doc and doesn’t reveal any overly-competitive tendencies which can be a big vote loser for women on this show.

Victoria is rumoured to be paired with the badboy of ballroom, Brendan Cole. If so, that is fine. They could really smoulder as a couple. Brendan’s improved his image over the series and has become a lot more compassionate as a training partner. Victoria was available at 14-1 when prices were first issued and is now into a best-priced 10-1 e/w with Ladbrokes. If she has an average start to the show, those odds may well lengthen, but we recommend getting on now in case her price ends up contracting further. We will be keeping a close eye on quotes on Victoria in Top Female betting too.

Among the front six in the betting, our Strictly instincts tell us to take on Louis Smith (paired with Flavia). He strikes us as a little too slick, not to mention metrosexual looking with his somewhat overly-sculpted visage. This is a man who, when interviewed by 5Live during the Olympic coverage, was happy to tell listeners he makes moisturising part of his daily routine, and no doubt we’ll be seeing his rippling muscles on display during his Latin routines.

Like Pendleton, Louis has the feel good factor of Team GB’s Olympic glories to feed off, but we’re far from certain he’ll be taken to the hearts of Strictly’s audience, who may perceive his gymnastic background as something of an unfair head start and his looks too vain. He’s obviously going to be very good and his odds will likely shorten after a Ricky Whittle-style first effort but there has to be a danger that, much like Matt Baker two series ago, we will see assorted gymnastic moves showcased in his routines, which risk becoming repetitive and showy. Len certainly won’t be impressed. And based on interviews we wonder if he might prove a little bit wooden in terms of personality.

Westlife’s Nicky Byrne (Karen) might be a better bet to achieve heart-throb status and the housewives’ no1 choice in this series but again his price looks short enough at 7-1. Like Kimberley, he has an established fanbase to call upon to aid him when it comes to the public vote. Really, the bookies have become much more savvy, and meaner, when it comes to pricing up these shows pre-series, and with the gannets already getting stuck into the ante-post market, value looks extremely thin on the ground.

Among the remaining 8 contestants, it’s difficult to build a strong case for any of them and it’s far easier to pick out potential Strictly negatives. Jerry Hall (Anton) – too tall for Latin, American. Johnny Ball (Aliona) – too old. Lisa Riley (Robin) – too large, though she might prove the bubbly, Roly Poly type who is surprisingly fleet-footed. Colin Salmon (Kristina) – not very well known, black. Richard Arnold (Erin) – too camp.

Of the outsiders, we are left with Fern Britton (Artem), Sid Owen (Ola) and Michael Vaughan as the only viable potential e/w value. Sid Owen could certainly prove a bit of a dark horse, but seems a rather bland individual. Fern is 55, and the only older female to get close to winning previously was Pamela Stephenson, who was 61 when finishing 3rd in 2010. Fern danced on the Christmas Special in 2010 and didn’t do badly attempting a jive.

One who makes some appeal before a single fleckle has been attempted is former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan. He’s quite a charismatic guy with nearly 300,000 followers on Twitter. Worryingly, he had to retire early from the game because of knee trouble which doesn’t bode well for the training schedule this show demands.

He was an opening batsmen, however, and top test batsmen have to be very light on their feet. In his favour is the record of England test players on the show – Gough and Ramprakash past winners and Phil Tufnell performing reasonably well when going out in week 9 of series 7. Rumours suggest Vaughan is paired with Natalie Lowe and that’s a big plus as Natalie is without doubt one of the best female pros and an excellent teacher.

It is easy to see Vaughan proving extremely suave in ballroom and he has a smile to melt the hearts of middle class ladies everywhere. The big test will be Latin and whether he can improve enough over the course of the series to lay down a challenge. A series win may be too much of an ask, and 18-1 e/w with Coral isn’t great value, and only makes limited appeal, as we expect him to start unconvincingly (at least in Latin), and his price to potentially drift. But we suggest a little dabble as Vaughan could have journey potential and we’ll also be keeping a close eye on his quotes to be Top Male.

Agree or disagree – where do you see the pre-show Strictly value? Let us know below.
Rob Furber

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  1. Tim B

    Hi Rob, I’m totally new to Strictly but I fancy having a go on it this year (why not?). I’ve taken your Victoria tip so thank you for that. I’ll hold off a bit on Michael Vaughan to see how he performs during the first few shows. I think Nicky Byrne might prove to be popular, with his Westlife fanbase (women) more likely to watch the show than Girls Aloud fans. Do you know if Ireland can vote on the show? If so, this will give him a massive boost and will make him one to watch. Whether or not he can dance remains to be seen though.

  2. Rob

    Hi Tim,
    Good question regarding the Irish vote. Not 100% certain on that one. There is a lot of embargoed info on this new series which should show up after Saturday’s 1st ep. Should be in the ‘voting guidelines’ then.
    This is all we have atm – a little bit here confirming that the dance-off is back:
    Strictly Come Dancing 2012
    Date: 11.09.2012Last updated: 11.09.2012 at 08.41

    Category: BBC One; Entertainment

    It is time to dust off those dancing shoes as Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC One with a star-studded line-up this Autumn.

    Sir Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly are putting the sparkle back into Saturday nights as the series kicks off with the Strictly Come Dancing 2012 Premiere on BBC One, Saturday 15 September at 6.30pm.

    At the premiere, after facing the paparazzi on the red carpet, the celebrities will head to the dance floor to learn which of the Strictly professional dancers will be partnering them, giving audiences the chance to see exactly what their first impressions are. Viewers will also have the opportunity to pick their favourites and spot early dancing talents as the celebrities take to the floor for the first time and perform a group routine.

    Following the premiere, the battle of the ballroom will begin with the first live show at the start of October and – in an exciting twist for Strictly fans – the dance-off is back. Due to popular demand, each couple with the lowest combined scores, from the judges and public vote, will face each other in a final dance off on Sunday nights, to decide who has come to end of their Strictly journey.

    This year, in a one-off live glitterball spectacular, Strictly will return to the iconic Wembley Arena in aid of Children In Need. Each dancing duo will perform in front of a live audience of around 6,500 Strictly fans, and millions more at home, as they dance their way across the biggest dancefloor in showbiz. As well as the couple’s dances, the professionals will perform a group dance, whilst some of the biggest names in music also take to the Strictly stage.

    Throughout the series our couples will face the judges and this year, new judge Darcey Bussell brings her wealth of expertise, alongside Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood and head judge Len Goodman. Claudia Winkleman once again joins Tess on Sunday evenings to present the Results Show and presenter Zoe Ball will bring Strictly fans all the latest backstage gossip, news and drama in the weekday sister show It Takes Two over on BBC Two.

  3. Tim B

    A couple more newbie questions: is the next elimination market on Betfair available all week, as it is on The X Factor? Also with the results show being filmed in the same night as the live Saturday show, does this present any challenges to betting in-play on the next to be eliminated and bottom 2 markets? What tends to be your general approach for betting during the live shows?

    I’m very much looking forward to some busy Saturday nights in the weeks ahead!

  4. Rob

    The next elimination market usually pops up on the Monday, Tim, with all markets suspended when vote lines close after the 1st live Saturday show, & remaining suspended until the pre-recorded Sunday night show is shown – despite results leaking on DigitalSpy on the Saturday night.
    Not confirmed yet, but presuming the dance-off will take place on the Saturday night (ie, not live). This is a shame as it means no in-running. But what we should see this year (hopefully) is some extra markets such as ‘to be in the bottom 2’ & ‘name the bottom 2’. Would be so much better for betting purposes if the dance-off was live but sadly this looks highly unlikely.

  5. CJ

    A great article there Rob. I must admit to being in agreement regarding the guys. Although I think 7s is fair for Nicky he seems a very affable guy. Vaughan ticks a lot of boxes but I get differing opinions on his character, yet his price outweighs those naysayers. With Victoria I think that the top female may be better value than the outright as I think DVO may well have a bit of negative feelings towards her in the public vote due to her head start, but I’m worried about the male winner bias. I am considering waiting on this now as DVO may shorten even more after weeks 1 and 2.
    Good luck with the series. look forward to reading your further insights.

  6. Rob

    Thanks for posting, CJ.
    I see MV has been pushed out to 20s with Ladbrokes which looks a more attractive e/w price, & he is 15-2 to be TM with S.Bet.
    Vic P mostly 5s for TF which looks fair value.

  7. Boki

    Hi Rob, I’m also scd virgin but will follow your coverage this year and try to make a little profit, we’ll see how it develops. Btw, Vic P top woman is 6.5 @unibet which is much higher than the rest.

  8. Rob

    Great spot, Boki – see the price has been cut now.
    Vaughan has been weak in the BF market, whereas there has been money for Sid Owen.
    We will learn so much more after seeing them all perform 1 ballroom and 1 Latin over the first 2 weeks.
    Thanks for posting 🙂

  9. Tim B

    Rob, would you say that now is the time to get Kimberley in the green, or hold off a little? Also, I want to lay Louis, and the current price is quite attractive I’d say, but do you think he’s likely to shorten further after the first live show?

  10. Rob

    I think Kimberley’s price is a little on the short side right now, Tim, at around 9-2. On dancing ability Louis will likely start very well so doubt his price will drift beyond the 3-1 mark, & is more likely to stay the same or come in, so on that basis probably best to hold off on laying Louis until after his 1st dance.
    Looks like he may have the cha, cha, cha which will certainly be more difficult to score highly in, compared to ballroom, but also gives more scope for him to impress with his Latin moves (compared to the rigid style of the waltz which is all about perfect hold and posture).
    I think there is definitely better value on the female side if you got some of the 10s or bigger Vic P e/w, & Dani Harmer around the 14s mark e/w (& 8-1 to be TF).

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