Nov 23, 2018 by


The big question heading into tomorrow night is, did they have Lauren in their sights for elimination at Blackpool last week and miss their target? Or, were they super-cunning and confident she could outpoll both Kate and Graeme, and Kate would beat Graeme on the pv, thus ensuring a Kate vs Graeme dance-off?

If they were aiming for Lauren, then she would look the obvious target again tomorrow night. Graeme is the bookies’ favourite for 9th elimination at 8-11 but he has a song choice which looks ideal for QS. He also has a chance of receiving a first pimp of the series, and if he can stay in time he might be scored higher than a few others on the night.

We know Lauren has taught salsa beginner lessons but what we don’t know is how good she is, and her song choice, for a salsa, isn’t the best. Training VTs have looked encouraging but based on series-long treatment the signs are Graeme is probably touring; Lauren probably not.

Charles should also enter elimination calculations. While his Strictly stock appears to be rising based on recent weeks, tango will be a tester as he hasn’t convinced in ballroom. What he should be able to do is sell the drama of it.

The market has now pushed Joe into favourite. This has, in part, been fuelled by the three 10s he was awarded in Blackpool for his QS. It was probably Joe’s best dance to date but score inflation is the order of the day in Blackpool with 10s often cheaply won there for the sake of the feel-good nature of the show.

Joe has Street/Commerical as his couples’ choice dance. This always looked the most likely selection for him. It may well be demo-pleasing for Joe’s younger fans, probably less so for Strictly’s bastion of older voters and it will be interesting to see how the judges assess it.

Score inflation is the order of the day in Blackpool with 10s often cheaply won there for the sake of the feel-good nature of the show

It’s basketball-themed and has looked potentially messy in training, with a fair degree of jeopardy attached. Couples’ Choice routines allow greater elbow room for subjectivity on whether or not they are deemed a success.

Stacey’s Outright price has eased on the back of her opening the show in Blackpool and receiving no 10s. On paper, a lack of 10s and placing Stacey fourth from bottom on the leaderboard raises doubts over her overall chance. What needs to be factored into this is, they often withhold 10s for the main ‘journey’ contestant on the show.

The power, presence and strong shaping paso requires doesn’t look a natural fit with Stacey but Kevin is a paso supremo and they have an ideal piece of music for something impactful. It would come as no surprise to see Stacey continue to be starved of 10s, and in terms of future price trajectory, this may confuse the market further, especially if Joe gets plaudits for his routine, outscores Stacey and they continue to eulogise him.

Faye was pencilled in for an AS this week before Gio hurt himself attempting a lift so they have reverted to waltz. Faye’s public vote has felt like it has been slowly deteriorating over recent weeks but she has the perfect track for a high quality routine.

Conversely, you sense Ashley is increasing in popularity on the back of her Blackpool 40. She may well open the show with her samba.

Faye’s public vote has felt like it has been slowly deteriorating over recent weeks but she has the perfect track for a high quality routine

Looking at running order positions, Joe and Charles have enjoyed the best treatment in recent weeks, Graeme the worst. Joe has had a run of late r. o. slots – 10/11, 10/10, 7/9 and 7/8 – as has Charles – 12/12, 8/11, 9/10, 9/9, 6/8 – which might hint both will be on early tomorrow night. Graeme, meanwhile, has had a run of early r.o. slots – 3/12, 1/11, 2/10, 4/9 and 3/8 – so he should have high hopes of a later slot.

1, 3, 5, 7 looks the likely positioning of samba, street, salsa and paso, interspersed with the 3 ballrooms in 2, 4 and 6.

The lindy-hop-athon will no doubt serve the usual function of these a-thons and be a thinly-veiled exercise in ordering the leaderboard. The danger will be someone placed last on the judges’ leaderboard rising up courtesy of a higher placing in the a-thon, still leaving them at risk of ending up in the dance-off and being eliminated.

Graeme probably remains a worthy fav to be the 9th elimination but the pimp slot for him would throw the cat among the pigeons. It’s a week that could go a few different ways and has scope to shake up the markets.

This week’s songs and dances:

Ashley and Pasha – Samba to ‘Hot Hot Hot’ by Arrow
Charles and Karen – Tango to ‘Eleanor Rigby’ by Big Country (originally by The Beatles)
Faye and Giovanni – Waltz to ‘See The Day’ by Dee C. Lee
Graeme and Oti – Quickstep to ‘Sing Sing Sing’ by The Andrews Sisters
Joe and Dianne – Couples’ Choice (Street) to ‘Jump Around’ by House of Pain
Lauren and AJ – Salsa to ‘Familiar’ by Liam Payne and J Balvin
Stacey and Kevin – Paso Doble to ‘Malaguena’ by Brian Setzer

Last Saturday’s ‘Blackpool Week’ judges’ leaderboard:

Craig – Darcey – Shirley – Bruno

Ashley & Pasha (8) Jive 10 10 10 10 = 40 (8)
Charles & Karen (6) Samba 9 9 10 10 = 38 (7)
Faye & Giovanni (4) Paso 9 9 10 10 = 38 (7)
Joe & Dianne (7) QS 8 10 10 10 = 38 (7)
Stacey & KfG (1) Salsa 7 8 9 9  = 33 (6)
Graeme & Oti (3) Couples’ Choice -Theatre Jazz 7 8 8 9 = 32 (5) – Bottom 2
Kate & Aljaz (5) AS (Foxtrot-based) 7 7 8 8 = 30 (4) – Eliminated
Lauren & AJ (2) AT 5 6 7 7 = 25 (3)

Remaining dances:

Ashley & Pasha – American Smooth, Quickstep, Waltz, Paso Doble, Argentine Tango
Charles & Karen – Foxtrot, Waltz, Paso Doble, Rumba, Argentine Tango
Faye & Giovanni – American Smooth, Charleston, Salsa, Samba, Argentine Tango
Graeme & Oti – Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz, Paso Doble, Rumba, Argentine Tango
Joe & Dianne – Tango, Viennese Waltz, Rumba, Salsa, Argentine Tango
Lauren & AJ – American Smooth, Foxtrot, Tango, Rumba, Samba
Stacey & Kevin – American Smooth, Viennese Waltz, Charleston, Rumba, Argentine Tango


  1. James

    Hi Rob

    I find it very interesting that Lauren’s long awaited salsa is taking place in the same week that the pro dance is going to be a collaboration with a dance company that has both disabled & non disabled dancers. I have placed an each way bet on her to receive the weekly top score at 66/1.

    I suspect that the ever inclusive BBC would be delighted if Lauren could achieve her highest score of the series this week, and maybe even a ‘Bruno 10’ is on the cards. I’m not sure that this would be enough to knock Ashley from the top spot, but I can see a scenario where Lauren is given a feel good moment, before the Lindy hop is used to restore the natural order.

    If a top two placing is out of Lauren’s reach, Joe may be the celebrity to take advantage. The Couples Choice has already led to top scores for Ashley & Faye, a second place for Charles and a third place for Stacey.

    • Rob

      It’s an interesting angle, James. I couldn’t be confident of high scores for either based on this week’s training footage.

      Joe’s routine looks a bit naff to my eye, while Lauren has appeared too laboured for a strong salsa.

      That said, the judges have already surprised plenty of times this series with some of their scoring and may do again.

  2. James

    Given her position on the leaderboard, I was surprised to see Ashley fall into the bottom two, however I was half expecting it to happen next week.

    In four of the last six years, the celebrity with the highest scoring average going into the quarter-final has ended up in the dance off.

    2012: Denise VO, bottom two (survived)
    2013: Natalie G, safe
    2014: Pixie L, bottom two (eliminated)
    2015: Helen G, bottom two (eliminated)
    2016: Danny M, safe
    2017: Alexandra B, bottom two (survived)

    Natalie & Danny only had a one week reprieve, as they both found themselves in the semi-final dance off.

  3. M8

    With Stacey my biggest green and Ashley my biggest red, last nights result was particularly satisfying. Looking like an Ashley Faye dance off could well be on the horizon in the semi final if not next week.

  4. M8

    Stacey and Joe both confirmed for the tour. They’ve made sure Stacey is on the show even though Kevin can’t do it (Alijaz will be her partner) which I think is important. I don’t see Kevin missing the tour as an issue as long as Stacey is there. Also note Craig shamelessly saying in his official statement…”There’ll be the glitz, there’ll be the glamour and of course the Glitterball winner at every show.”

  5. Stoney

    Stacey dancing the American Smooth which im guessing means saving the Charleston 40 for the semi.
    Is the American smooth generally seen as a dance she will be able to excell in? Any of the number bods on here got any stats?

    • Rob

      James might be able to help with the stats, Stoney, but it’s certainly a dance that regularly impresses most over the years among the ballrooms.

      The lifts allowed mean it has that much more pizzazz, when performed well, compared to the likes of foxtrot or VW, on which it is based.

      One intriguing element this year is the way Argentine tango hasn’t been danced among 5 of the remaining 6. Only Lauren has danced it. Makes you start to wonder if they are going to request they all dance it in the sf, IF Lauren is eliminated on Saturday. No matter what happens, there will almost definitely be a few ATs performed in the sf.

      • Stoney

        Thanks Rob. Are you of the same opinion as me that the brakes are being applied to Joe this last few weeks. It seems he has peaked and watching the training video hes in for another backwards score this weekend. Seems they may be ready to cut loose in the semi. Well that’s how I see it with my Stacey tinted glasses on anyway.

        • Rob

          Hi Stoney. Joe’s series-long treatment has been a bit of a head-scratcher because to my eyes he hasn’t deserved the high scores & praise they have regularly been dishing out.

          The fact he is touring might help explain things. His early salsa training hasn’t looked good, but it’s been the same story most weeks, & yet generous scoring on the live shows has followed – in particular, week 7’s paso scored 34, week 8’s samba scored 32 & last week’s Street scored 35.

          Sounds like it will be a big number with extra dancers involved so maybe they will talk him up and over-score him again. Looking at his remaining dances he will have rumba in the sf if he doesn’t do AT.

  6. James

    Hi Stoney & Rob

    Stacey’s current average score for the series is 31.7. By the end of the series her average should be in the range of 32-34. Looking at other female celebrities who finished with an average in this range, nine performed the American Smooth, and their average score for this particular dance was 34.8

    Taking into account the score inflation that is seen as the series progresses, I am expecting Stacey to receive a total in the 35-37 range this week, which I suspect would place her third on the leaderboard.

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