Wanted: Male Winner

Sep 4, 2015 by

Wanted: Male Winner

After a great Eurovision, here’s hoping for a lucrative autumn/winter season courtesy of Strictly and X Factor. In the last 2 years, since introducing a transparent, point-based portfolio of tv betting investments, EntertainmentOdds is showing a level stakes profit of +229pts.

While the paid subscription service for Eurovision 2015 (which will return for Eurovision 2016) proved a roaring success, and achieved a profit for subscribers of +90pts, the Strictly, X Factor and other tv betting analysis will remain free-to-view for the time being.

The 13th series of Strictly officially launches tomorrow evening on BBC1 though the live shows do not commence until Friday 25 September. This year’s 15-strong celebrity cast has been announced, the Outright market has settled on Betfair and, spoiler alert, we now have the final key piece of information heading into the lives – the pro pairings.

The last 2 series have been won by female contestants which means it is now an even split of 6 male winners and 6 female winners during the show’s 12-year history.

This suggests it’s the flip of a coin, an Even money shot, whether a male or female wins Strictly. The view here, however, remains that Strictly still heavily favours a male winner as it has regularly required hefty interference by TPTB to get a female over the line first, which suggests there is some value in Ladbrokes quote of Evens for a male winner this series.

Certainly over the years we have seen increasing manipulation in seeking to manage eliminations and strive for the show’s ideal final, and winner, which has offset the male bias. Someone like Jake Wood last year, whose show-stopping samba was arguably the routine of the series, clearly wasn’t wanted as a winner and found himself dumped out in the semi-final.

Similarly, in series 11 in 2013, Ashley Taylor Dawson was the subject of persistent, harsh post-dance appraisals and punitive scoring which eventually saw him eliminated in the quarter-final, and led the way for an all-female final won by Abbey Clancy, with Patrick Robinson taking Top Male honours.

Sophie Ellis-Bexter also wasn’t wanted that year despite her sensational Charleston which she didn’t even get to reprise in the final as she finished 4th. The fact both Jake and Sophie were unable to be part of the Strictly Tour probably had some say in their exits, so it is worth keeping a close eye on who is and isn’t available to tour this year and trying to unpick the show’s narrative as the series progresses.

Looking at this year’s field, the pre-lives betting market appears to agree that a male winner is more likely this year with Peter Andre and Jay McGuiness currently trading as first and second favourite.

Peter (Janet Manrara) and Jay (Aliona Vilani), have both landed solid pro partners. We saw some great routines by Janet last year in partnership with Jake, while Aliona won series 9 with Harry Judd, and was runner-up the previous year partnering the harshly treated Matt Baker.

Andre looks like being a natural from the get-go – an early rehearsal Tweet from Gleb Savchenko reading, ‘@mrpeterandre is killing it already’ – but it can be tough for someone who starts as the stand-out dancer to maintain momentum all the way to the Glitterball trophy – think Ricky Whittle, Matt Baker, Denise van Outen, Natalie Gumede…

Slightly better value than Peter, Jay is wisely playing down his dance ability but sleuthing of YT vids and biog details suggest he will have the requisite moves in his locker.

Aliona would be similarly wise to keep a lid on his full ability in the show’s early weeks recalling how Matt Baker came out doing cartwheels and smashed it performing the cha, cha, cha in week 1 when partnering her which left him little room for improvement.

For the show’s male bias to kick in it requires a male contestant who ticks all the boxes for Strictly’s staunchly Middle England female vote base. It’s a moot point which of the swarthy, clean cut metrosexual (Peter) or the rugged, long-haired lothario (Jay) is better placed to win over this key demographic over the course of the series.

Anthony Ogogo also has the looks to charm female voters, as well as ‘journey’ potential. Two concerns with him are a shoulder injury, with talk of him having to wear a sling in the early weeks, and being paired with newcomer to the show Otlile Mabuse, who will be unfamiliar to viewers.

It’s not impossible for ‘new’ pros to win the show of course, or go close to winning. Aljaz won in his first series in 2013, and Artem took series 8 on his debut. Natalie Lowe was runner-up partnering Ricky Whittle in her first series, while Pasha (Chelsea Healey) and Kevin (Susanna Reid) were also runners-up on their show debuts.

There is certainly scope for a narrative to develop for Anthony in overcoming injury, and for him to form an endearing partnership with Otlile. He has also stated he is in it to win it so he must expect his shoulder to recover enough to perform the required lifts later in the series.

Fellow Olympian Iwan Thomas is paired with Ola and could well prove to be a decent dancer but male competition looks strong enough this year to pass him over at series start, while Ainsley Harriott, paired with Natalie Lowe, is of some interest as a potential back-to-lay proposition.

Nat Lowe has proved herself one of the most adept pro teachers on the show and it would come as no surprise if Ainsley impresses, in particular performing fast Latin numbers. He’s the kind of larger-than-life character Strictly voters may well warm to initially, and the Beeb’s continued overtly PC stance can often be a boost for black contestants, recalling the seemingly preferential treatment Patrick Robinson and Simon Webbe were afforded in the last 2 series.

There appears to have been plenty of money being wagered on Daniel O’Donnell (partnered with Kristina). He heralds from County Donegal which, it is worth noting, is not part of Northern Ireland. Only UK residents can vote on Strictly which wipes out any potential Eire vote for him.

While his old-fashioned crooning might be a joy to behold for a certain section of easy listening mammys, Daniel’s audience might not necessarily be a natural fit with Strictly voters, added to which he is being tasked with having to impress with his dancing feet rather than his ballad-flexing vocal chords.

Jeremy Vine, paired with last year’s finalist Karen Hauer (now Clifton), seems the sort of character who will embrace the show and could well achieve cult status if Karen is wise enough to choreograph entertaining routines for him and he hams it up. He certainly looks an unlikely early casualty despite being Coral’s favourite to be first eliminated at 3-1.

The most likely Top Female according to the odds compilers is Helen George, who has landed a very solid pro pairing in the shape of 2013 winner Aljaz. Her odds look a fair assessment given Helen’s BBC-friendly profile as one of the cast of popular period drama series Call The Midwife. Her biog details also reveal she has a dance training background.

Georgia May Foote (paired with new pro Giovanni Pernice), Jamelia (Tristan) and Kirsty Gallacher (Brendan) all have the potential to excel as dancers. The concern with all 3 is that it can be very difficult for glamorous females to charm Strictly’s core female vote base.

Strictly has been a graveyard for confident, strong women over the years which could count against both Jamelia and Kirsty. Lisa Snowdon, Denise Van Outen and Nat Gumede were all outstanding dancers but didn’t win their respective series, while Gabby Logan was a shock elimination in week 4 of series 5.

Even the more demure types have struggled in the main, with the likes of Louisa Lytton, Emma Bunton, Rachel Stevens, Ali Bastian, Chelsea Healey, Kimberley Walsh, Pixie Lott and Frankie Bridge all falling short. So you know from history it will very likely require a push from TPTB to get one of these 3 over the line first, and after 2 female winners in the last 2 series, you have to doubt whether this will be on their agenda this year.

Of more interest is Anita Rani. She is something of an intuitive pick but a few clips unearthed of her suggest she could have what it takes. She certainly has the ideal slim, petite frame for the dance floor, and may well fall into that sweet spot of being an unthreatening woman who won’t raise the hackles among female voters, and ends up receiving their widespread support.

You can certainly envisage a show-stopping Bollywood-themed routine by her at some point and in Gleb Savchenko she has landed one of this year’s new heart-throb pros which could also work in her favour.

Kellie Bright (Kevin), Katie Derham (Anton) and Carol Kirkwood (Pasha) have the feel of also-rans. Carol, like Jeremy, could well benefit from her strong BBC profile, which may well see her last longer on the show than her dancing talent merits, while Katie and Kellie may be aided by having popular pro partners in Kevin from Grimsby and Strictly stalwart Anton, but none of them appeal as potential winners.

Video recorders at the ready for tomorrow night’s first sighting of the celebs cutting a rug in the group dance and look out for training VTs appearing on the BBC Strictly website in the coming days and weeks.

At the outset of this series the advice would be to look to get Peter, Jay, Anthony, Ainslie, Helen and Anita on side but in terms of recommendations at current odds, these are the advised investments for the official portfolio, available at the time of posting:

Helen – Top Female – 7-2 – Ladbrokes – 6pt win

Anita – Top Female – 12-1 – Ladbrokes – 2pt win

Anita – Outright – 22-1 – Coral, bet365 – 1pt e/w (a fifth the odds first 3)

Jay – Outright – 6-1 – Paddy Power, Coral – 4pt e/w (a fifth the odds first 3)

Anthony – Outright – 12-1 – Coral, Stan James – 2pt e/w (a fifth the odds first 3)


  1. M8

    Welcome back Rob! Looking forward to getting back into the swing of things.

    A couple of stats that need to be taken into account. No gender has ever won Strictly three years running. We’ve now had two female winners in a row which means we are set for a male winner this year, Darcy basically confirmed it on the launch show. Also no professional dancer has ever won the show more than once, this favours dancers like Janette and Otile the most for me at this point, especially Janette.

    I’m going to be honest I can’t see anything other than a Peter win at this point in time. I’ve placed a small stake covering Anthony, but my money went all on Peter weeks ago and I’ll be shocked if we have any other outcome.

    The first elimination looks a tougher call, I was hoping Anita Rani would struggle to dance with her lack of a fanbase giving her an attractive price but she looks like she has moves. Daniel O’Donnell will certainly be the joke act which should hopefully allow us to make money on eliminations this season.

    Hopefully markets are opened for highest week one score before the show. Daniel O’Donnell lowest score and Peter highest score seem certs at this point.

  2. Rob

    Thanks for posting your thoughts, M8. I agree Peter looks like he’ll be tough to beat. The only concern is, the audience tiring of him topping the leaderboard throughout. There has regularly been room for a ‘journey’ contestant to beat the ‘best’ dancer come the end.

    Surprised to see Jay’s odds drift so much – happy to top up at current odds. I thought he came across well. Wise to play the nervous card & set himself up for a journey. Maybe he’s been groomed in the art of winning these shows 🙂

  3. M8

    I don’t think Peter will top the leaderboard throughout to be fair for that very reason Rob. I can see him topping the leaderboard week one or two and from then on his scores may take a dip for a good few weeks as the judges build him up. Then a bit like Caroline from about the quarter finals onwards his scores should go back up and the tens will start coming out for him when it matters. There is certainly some money to be made throughout the mid series on top weekly scorer. Helen George, Anthony and Jay (especially at ballroom) will surely be up there.

    I do like Jay and I think Jay to finish top 3 is a very good bet. But I can’t get over the no pro has ever won more than once stat. So I think having Aliona as his pro will be his downfall. Also would he have the time to commit to the SCD tour? Peter has nothing to do and I’m sure he’ll have the time to do it but Jay has the Wanted so he may not be on it. I’ll be waiting for the tour cast to be announced with a lot of interest.

  4. Rob

    Strictly week 1 dances & songs:

    Carol Kirkwood and Pasha Kovalev will dance the Cha Cha to Thunder in My Heart by Leo Sayer

    Daniel O’Donnell and Kristina Rihanoff will dance the Waltz to When Irish Eyes Are Smiling by Ruby Murray

    Katie Derham and Anton Du Beke will dance the Jive to Roll Over Beethoven by Chuck Berry

    Jeremy Vine and Karen Clifton will dance the Cha Cha to September by Earth, Wind and Fire

    Jamelia and Tristian MacManus will dance the Waltz to Do Right Woman, Do Right Man by Aretha Franklin

    Iwan Thomas and Ola Jordan will dance the Tango to Keep on Running by Spencer Davis Group

    Jay McGuiness and Aliona Vilani will dance the Cha Cha to Reach Out, I’ll Be There by Human Nature

    Anthony Ogogo and Oti Mabuse will dance the Jive to Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham!

    Peter Andre and Janette Manrara will dance the Cha Cha to Ain’t No Other Man by Christina Aguilera

    Kellie Bright and Kevin Clifton will dance the Tango to You Really Got Me by The Kinks

    Kirsty Gallacher and Brendan Cole will dance the Waltz to Vincent by Don McLean

    Ainsley Harriott and Natalie Lowe will dance the Tango to Voulez Vous by Abba

    Georgia May Foote and Giovanni Pernice will dance the Jive to Dear Future Husband by Meghan Trainor

    Anita Rani and Gleb Savchenko will dance the Cha Cha to Rather Be by Clean Bandit

    Helen George and Aljaž Skorjanec will dance the Waltz to With You I’m Born Again by Billy Preston and Syreeta Wright

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