Rapping Things Up

Dec 18, 2020 by

Rapping Things Up

This shortened, Covid-impacted Strictly series has been a strange one in so many ways, not least the deadly dispatch of Ranvir in last Saturday’s semi-final, allowing Jamie to progress to the final despite 4 dance-off appearances.

Ranvir had been granted full producer backing across the series only for TPTB to pull the rug from under her feet when she looked poised to reach the final. The only conclusion we can reach is, the BBC has been enjoying trolling ITV’s Good Morning Britain, dangling the possibility of Ranvir winning the series only to strike her down in the cruellest manner, a semi-final exit from the competition always the bitterest pill to swallow.

There was always a strong sense Ranvir had been cleverly protected from the perils of fast Latin dances throughout the series run only for jive to be handed to her at the semi-final stage, when a rumba or even a couple’s choice would have allowed her to cruise, unencumbered, to the final. As it turned out, this was the green light for the judges to go to town highlighting how useless she was at it, scoring her a miserly 18.

Semi-final judges’ leaderboard:
Maisie and Gorka: CC: Street/Commercial (4) – 10, 10, 10 = 30 – VW (9) – 9, 10, 10 = 29 = 59
HRVY and Janette: Rumba (5) – 7, 8, 8 = 23 – Charleston (10) – 10, 10, 10 = 30 = 53
Jamie and Karen: Salsa (1) – 8, 8, 8 = 24 – Quickstep (6) – 8, 8, 8 = 24 = 48 – bottom 2 (reprised salsa)
Bill and Oti: Charleston (3) – 8, 8, 9 = 25 – Tango (8) – 8, 7, 8 = 23 = 48
Ranvir and Giovanni: Waltz (2) – 8, 9, 9 = 26 – Jive (7) – 5, 6, 7 = 18 = 44 – eliminated (reprised waltz)

Even so, under usual circumstances, reprising their higher scoring routines in the dance-off, you would have expected Ranvir’s 26-scoring waltz to beat Jamie’s 24-scoring salsa, but Shirley performed an about-turn in the dance-off suggesting Jamie wanted it more so deserved a final place ahead of Ranvir.

Jamie now looks like being the high energy, entertainment filler in tomorrow night’s final, the judges selecting his week 3, Movie Week Charleston (23), and him and Karen choosing to reprise his week 5, 29-scoring Street routine. ‘I’m Still Standing’ is another clever, play-on-words song choice for his showdance, after the smokescreen of ‘Last Dance’ in the semi-final, and this routine looks like having some delicate touches in between the faster elements.

Having been bottom 2 twice, there is perhaps more of a sense of a journey with Maisie as we head into the final, and her and Gorka’s choice of their week 6 QS (29) was really the moment she bounced back in the competition

Both Maisie and HRVY look set to enjoy a 10-fest tomorrow night. We see this quite often in finals. Ashley Roberts and Faye Tozer enjoyed perfect 120/120s in the 2018 final, and it is feasible Maisie and HRVY land 30/30 for each of their 3 dances.

This really only has potential impact in terms of Betfair’s in-running prices, as recreational punters will take this to mean they stand a better chance of winning, when the reality is, the scoring has no bearing on the result, which is decided by public vote-only. Stacey Dooley overcame being placed last on the judges’ leaderboard in 2018 to win the series and last year Kelvin was outscored by Karim on the night.

Maisie and HRVY have been given their week 1 routines to reprise in samba (24) and jive (25) respectively. These looked highly favourable week 1 dance choices and set both of them up as this year’s ringers with no apparent journey across the series.

Having been bottom 2 twice, there is perhaps more of a sense of a journey with Maisie as we head into the final, and her and Gorka’s choice of their week 6 QS (29) was really the moment she bounced back in the competition. Being the only woman in the final also looks a potential advantage for her and Ranvir’s surprise semi-final exit could be construed as intentionally carried out in Maisie’s favour.

HRVY has enjoyed maximum scores for both his Street and Charleston routines in the last 3 weeks. Him and Janette have gone with their week 7, Musicals Week AS (29). His highly-criticised rumba (23) felt a deflating moment for him in last week’s semi-final before his pimp-slotted Charleston was followed by a plea for votes to help get Janette to her first final. You could argue it is now job done.

He gets to do what he does best in his showdance which will be a fast, uptempo number incorporating Street dance, Charleston and salsa. Maisie is going the more emotive and festive route with Idina Menzel’s ‘We Need A Little Christmas’, incorporating traditional ballroom elements.

All eyes were on what Bill would be given in the final and his price shortened immediately following Monday night’s ITT reveal of a judges’ choice of his week 2, game-changing QS (24), and him and Oti choosing their week 4 Street (27) routine to ‘Rapper’s Delight’. A showdance set to ‘The Show Must Go On’ will see Bill play his guitar in between a medley of dances he has learnt across the series including paso and AT.

It would make sense if Bill earns the final pimp slot, with his Street routine looking the ideal series closer having had over a million views on YT, and a dance that has felt the most viewer engaging and series-defining this year

This looks a fitting finale as Strictly has determinedly stayed on our screens despite the setback of a positive Covid test for Katya seeing Nicola have to withdraw from the competition, lockdown 2, and the entire series teetering on the brink of implosion.

It would make sense if Bill earns the final pimp slot, not that running order has had much impact on previous Strictly finals. with his Street routine looking the ideal series closer having had over a million views on YT, and a dance that has felt the most viewer engaging and series-defining this year.

Votelines always open after the first routines (judges’ choices) are danced, and then remain open around 20 minutes following the last dances on the night, the couples’ choices. Craig hasn’t given Bill more than an 8 all series and this is likely to be a narrative they play on during the final.

HRVY and Maisie will, to a degree, split the ‘best dancer’ vote but given those dance choices for Bill it looks like TPTB are happy to guide him to what would be a feel-good win in a series craving a feel-good winner like never before.

It has been noticeable how the judges have maintained positive critiques and scores for Bill in recent weeks, and this is perhaps a small clue regarding how this year’s vote has been going. Aged 55, Bill would become the oldest ever winner of the show, and Oti the first ever pro dancer to win back-to-back series.

We will be running a grand final ‘in-running’ exit poll and will aim to publish a result prior to votelines closing. Please do tell us who got your final vote here.

Grand final dances and songs:

Bill and Oti:
Favourite dance: Couple’s Choice: Street/Commercial to Rapper’s Delight by The Sugarhill Gang
Showdance: The Show Must Go On by Queen
Judges’ Pick: Quickstep to Talk To The Animals by Bobby Darin

Maisie and Gorka:
Favourite dance: Quickstep to When You’re Smiling by Andy Williams
Showdance: We Need A Little Christmas by Idina Menzel
Judges’ Pick: Samba to Samba (Conga) by Gloria Estefan

HRVY and Janette:
Favourite dance: American Smooth to One (Singular Sensation) from A Chorus Line
Showdance: Boogie Wonderland by Brittany Murphy
Judges’ Pick: Jive to Faith by Stevie Wonder featuring Ariana Grande

Jamie and Karen:
Favourite dance: Couple’s Choice: Street/Commercial to Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) by C+C Music Factory
Showdance: I’m Still Standing by Elton John (Taron Egerton version)
Judges’ Pick: Charleston to Zero To Hero from Hercules


  1. James

    Hi Rob

    Thanks for providing your detailed weekly analysis throughout the series. It has been even more invaluable than usual this year.

    Ahead of week one, my pick for the final four were Caroline, Clara, HRVY & Maisie. The two youngsters held up their end of the deal, relatively easily. Caroline started strongly, but no longer became a priority for the show once it became clear that Bill and Ranvir could provide what Caroline had initially been brought in to deliver.

    The Charleston showed that Clara had masses of potential. Was it pressure, the nit picking of the judges, or maintaining her day job that led to her downfall? Ranvir mentioned in interview, that she felt her energy levels had really taken a hit in the last couple of weeks, having to maintain her early starts and looking after her child. In contrast, I believe that Bill, Jamie & HRVY have been able to maintain a focus on training. Something to consider when looking at the 2021 line up.

    As for this week, I think Bill is the likely winner, but it is easy to see HRVY receiving great treatment tonight, so I would not want to be sitting on a HRVY red.

    In 14 of the 17 series, the person who headed the leaderboard in the final, also topped the semi-final leaderboard, so I have bet on Maisie to receive the high score.

    Best wishes to you, and to all Entertainment Odds readers

    • Rob

      Thanks James – all very salient points. In hindsight, I do think Clara’s day job meant she couldn’t put in the same level of training hours as others. It was a strange one though cos Aljaz showed total faith in her ability by choreographing such highly technical fast Latin routines.
      Not an easy series to get a strong handle on &, as is so often the case, it has been best to adopt a trading approach. I managed to bale on all of Caroline, Clara and Ranvir when their prices went shorter. My big mistake was laying Bill ahead of week 2 around low 20s, thinking he was more likely to drift back out to 30+ – you can’t win them all.
      Unless the Strictly voting demographic has significantly shifted this year, & there is now a much bigger percentage of younger voters I find it hard to see how HRVY beats Bill. HRVY, for me, has had a charmed run, granted leaderboard protection to help Janette get to the final & without that I’m sure he would have landed bottom 2. If he wins, happy to accept I read things wrong.
      The value trading in the last few days has been laying HRVY for top 3 around 1.15 & backing him on the Outright (similar to backing Rashford to win SPOTY & laying him top 3).
      Best of luck tonight.

  2. Well done Rob and thanks for the coverage as always.

    Pleased to see Bill win. Although he maybe didn’t really push on that much he had a musicality that held him in good stead and some excellent dances to call upon.

    I felt fairly confident pre-show and that remained throughout. Only problem is I probably laid a bit too much off when he went single figures but that’s how it goes sometimes.

    It was some effort for the Strictly production team to pull off this series and all credit to them and the dancers.

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