The almost cast-iron case for the Cat

Oct 20, 2009 by

This year’s final of Strictly will be a 3-couple affair, we repeat, a 3-couple affair, assuming none of the couples drop out between now and the December 19 final.
It’s a little known fact that since series one this has always been Strictly’s intention but Jimmy Tarbuck, Kelly Brook and John Sergeant all put a spanner in the works due to their premature exits from the competition in the last three series. It was only Tom Chambers last minute reprieve in the semi-final that turned last year’s final back into a 3-couple dance off following John Sergeant’s withdrawal earlier in the series.
This is vitally important to factor into considerations because the format of the final effectively means regardless of the standings on the judges’ leaderboard, the contestant with the biggest public following is assured of outright victory, as shrewd punters were quick to latch on to last year once Tom Chambers escaped elimination in the penultimate week.
Unless there is a last minute tinkering of the format, the final will see the 3 couples judged by the panel, thus creating the usual judges’ leaderboard. The public will then vote, and the couple who is bottom overall will be eliminated.
In the event of a tie, the winner of the public vote will progress to the final 2 which means even if the public favourite is last on the judges’ leaderboard, he or she is guaranteed to go through to the final 2.
The final 2 is a straight head-to-head based on the public vote, so we can deduce from all this that the public’s favourite will win the final regardless of how the judges award their points in a 3-couple final.
With this in mind it is our belief Phil Tufnell is the public’s favourite. This is all supposition of course but it makes the case for backing him a strong one. If the Cat is topping the public poll and continues to do so, the only thing that can stop him winning the series outright is an unfortunate points permutation among his rivals forcing him into the bottom 2.
In the final 7, this is hugely unlikely. In the final 6, it’s hugely unlikely but slightly more likely than the final 7. In the final 5, it’s unlikely but slightly more likely than the final 6. We see his greatest hurdle being the final 4, a.k.a. the semi-final on December 12 – potential D-day for Tufnell supporters.
Here’s how he could be ousted, based on a hypothetical scenario, and it’s worth noting there is only one permutation we can think of that would force him into the bottom 2 if he is top with the public and this is it:

Ricky Whittle – (judges) 4  +  (public) 2 = 6
Ali Bastian – 3 + 3 = 6
Jade Johnson – 2 + 1 = 3
Phil Tufnell – 1 + 4 = 5

The worry with the above hypothetical is that the judges’ scores ranking and public score ranking look to us more or less how they might look should these four couples make it through. In Phil’s favour is the fact he can dance both ballroom and Latin very competently, and he is improving, so he’s not guaranteed to be propping up the leaderboard.
It is also worth asking, does the show want a third cricketer to take the Strictly crown? And would a show that has made such a fuss about weighting it towards being a dancing contest, be happy about someone winning again who might not be the best dancer but is the most entertaining and hence the public’s favourite?
It’s open to debate but it’s not impossible some contrivance could take place to ensure the sort of scenario outlined above does befall the Cat, and there are many who believe something not dissimilar brought about the exit of Gethin Jones in series five, while Austin Healey could have topped the public vote at the last four stage last year and also found himself in the dance off.
In the semi-final one of the dances will presumably be an Argentine Tango. The case for the Cat will be even stronger if he gets the difficult-to-score-highly-in Jive, Rumba and Paso Doble out the way before that key semi-final comes around.
But when you look at the current best prices of Ricky Whittle at 11-10 and Phil Tufnell at 11-1 it really is a no-brainer that the Cat is still a fantastic price and demands backing.

Rob Furber

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