We were back in the usual Strictly studio this week after last week’s road trip to Blackpool. With the departure of Fiona Fullerton we are now down to eight celebrity dancers and even the good dancers are going to be at risk if being in the dance-off. We still don’t know who the viewers favour but Mark Benton looks vulnerable at the bottom as he had been in the last two dance-offs.
The standard is high now and Len warned the dancers at the start of the show that the judges would be pickier. It certainly seemed that way with many more detailed critical comments from the judges.
Natalie Gumede maintained her impressive series of performance with a score of 37 to show the rest a clean pair of heels. Ashley Taylor Dawson was second with the judges, having scored 35 for the third time in three weeks. At the bottom it was Ben Cohen just behind Mark Benton.
This week’s scores
- 37 – Natalie Gumede and Artem Chigvinstev
- 35 – Ashley Taylor Dawson and Ola Jordan
- 32 – Patrick Robinson and Anya Garnis
- 32 – Abbey Clancy and Aljaz Skorjanec
- 31 – Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Brendan Cole
- 31 – Susanna Reid and Kevin Clifton
- 28 – Mark Benton and Iveta Lukosiute
- 27 – Ben Cohen And Kristina Rihanoff
Susanna Reid and Kevin Clifton, fresh from their score of 39 last week, opened the show with a Cha Cha Cha to the classic ‘Hound Dog’ from Smokey Joe’s Café. Susanna has finally been given some better costumes and strutted her stuff with Kevin to a quirky version of the Elvis classic.
Len: The timing was good but the problem was your leg action. It was acceptable but not exceptional.
Bruno: Your performances fly off the shelf like mince pies at Christmas. Len is right. There is a very pronounced hip action on this dance and it wasn’t quite right.
Craig: I liked the vampy beginning but for me it did not pop or zing. You need to think about extending your body further
Darcey: The boys are right. It’s just that technique in getting the straighter leg. You still give 100%. It’s lovely.
A score of 31 is Susanna’s worst score since week 4. One gets the impression that the judges are moving the goal posts a bit.
Ashley Taylor Dawson and Ola Jordan performed the waltz to ‘I Will Always Love You’ by Claudia Streza. The waltz is the dance that most celebs do well with and Ashley was no exception. ‘Wonderful’ said Bruce.
Bruno: Beautifully handled. The music and the timing were so difficult and the phrasing but you glided through it with incredible poise. A wonderful wonderful waltz.
Craig: I thought you coped well with all the cross phrasing. However your head is driving me mad. It’s inclining to the right and you have to sort that out.
Darcey: You really rose to the occasion. For me it was one of your best dances. Craig is right on the head. Relax as you turn.
Len: Attention to detail. Your footwork was good. I liked the chasse with light and shade. That was terrific.
A score of 35, in this new harsher scoring mood, should see Ashley towards the top of the leaderboard.
Natalie Gumede and Artem Chigvinstev danced the Tango to Rihanna’s hit ‘Where Have You Been’. Natalie has drifted in the betting over the last few weeks so needs a strong performance that can engage the viewers. She makes such fantastic lines and Natlie’s understanding with Artem is superb.
Craig: I’m going to be really picky. Your left hand was facing up instead of palm to the floor. You need to sort that out. The whole thing lacked a little drama.
Darcey: Ignore Craig. For me I love that classic Tango. You need to push away from Artem.
Len: You looked like my favourite quality street and that was a truly quality performance. You lower your head a little.
Bruno: For me it was fabulous.
A score of 37 including a 10 from Bruno will do nicely. Will it get the viewers to pick up the phone? You cannot win Strictly by winning over just the judges. At the moment Natalie is always towards the top of the leaderboard and is almost training viewers not to bother to vote for her.
Mark Benton and Iveta Lukosiute performed the Foxtrot to the Michael Buble favourite ‘It’s A Beautiful Day’. Mark has been under pressure after two dance-off escapes and has been criticised for his lack of technique. Mark is all about character rather than technique but he did seem to step up a gear with his dancing this week, Can he avoid the dance-off? We will find out in the results show on Sunday.
Darcey: You always make me smile. You are charming. It was beautiful. Your top line has improved so much. I would like to see more travel but I loved the performance.
Len: You have been trained but never tamed. There are always cheeky moments that make me smile. You are like a Dalek really. You move but there is no sway and swing. Always fun to watch.
Bruno: You bring the sun on Strictly. It was wonderfully theatrical and always jolly and pleasant.
Craig: All the main points were missing. Flow, movement, swing, sway and too much side-by-side.
The inevitable low score of 28 means Mark must rely on viewer votes to stay out fo the dance-off.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Brendan Cole danced the Rumba to Amy Winehouse’s version of ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’. Sophie has had a mixed reception from the judges in the last few weeks so she needed a strong score. It was an elegant performance with a hint of Sophie’s slightly quirky “cool and angular” style of dancing. A great dress to go with it as well.
Len: A very pretty dance. Good lines. It just lacked a little flair and chemistry. Brendan’s choreography gave it the flair.
Bruno: Len is right. It was so pretty, almost balletic and a wonderful classical feel. I like my Rumba a bit raunchier. It’s not about sex it’s about passion.
Craig: I liked the double spin but I found it a bit cold. There were moment when you smiled but that soon disappeared when you turned.
Darcey: Maybe Sophie you need to over exaggerate and I missed the intensity and sensuality between you. It just looks a little shy.
A 31 from the judges seemed a little harsh for a gripping dance. Brendan certainly felt that their performance was misinterpreted by the judges and wanted their gentle Rumba to be given more credit.
Ben Cohen And Kristina Rihanoff danced the Charleston to ‘No Diggity’ by Minimatic. Ben is one of the weaker dancers although he is improving every week. Unless he gets the viewer votes he could well find himself in the bottom two. A score about 31 would help him this week as it would take him above Mark, Susanna and Sophie. It was a very physical and entertaining Charleston with Ben showing his strength in the lifts. However there was less dance content than some of the other dances and this may not be well received by the judges. Interesting choreography though.
Bruno: It was Charles Atlas doing the Charleston. Your timing was good but the feet could be a little sharper.
Craig: It was not the most electrifying Charleston I’ve ever seen. You lacked any sort of freedom of movement.
Darcey: All that story telling really worked. You are upping the dance content every week.
Len: It was right on time on that dance. It did lack a bit of freedom of movement but very good. No mistakes.
Ouch. A score of 27 shows what the judges think of the dance content and puts Ben at the bottom of the leaderboard. He will need the viewers to start voting for him. To be fair it was great storytelling but weak dance content.
Abbey Clancy and Aljaz Skorjanec performed the Paso Doble to ‘You Got The Love’ by Florence and the Machine. The Paso is not an easy dance but Abbey looked good throughout.
Craig: Your free arm was a little loose at times. A little bit more body tension would have been nice but I loved the dance.
Darcey: Well that was a very difficult Paso. I would have liked a slightly harder stronger woman from you. I wanted to see something more dramatic.
Len: I liked the shape and choreography. You lost a little control on occasions. I would have liked to see it a little bit cleaner.
Bruno: You were working incredibly hard but because of the few slips you lost a little control. But don’t put yourself down, you have achieved a lot.
A score of 32 puts Abbey in the top half of the judges leaderboard.
Patrick Robinson and Anya Garnis closed the show with a Viennese Waltz to Celine Dion’s ‘A New Day Has Come’. Anya had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction last week so lets hope that nothing gets in the way of the dancing this week. Patrick is probably better at the latin dances than the ballroom but it was a polished and well acted performance.
Darcey: It was a very difficult dance with constantly rotating and you put a lot into it. You just don’t look as comfortable and the shoulders went up on that standing spin. I’m being picky because I want to see you here in four week’s time.
Len:The good the bad and the ugly. Good movement, nice sway, bad standing spins both of them and I didn’t like the ending, that was ugly. It was all rushed. It wasn’t your best but not your worst either.
Bruno: You found it hard to hold your shape and frame and the ending wasn’t good.
Craig: Good rhythmically. Your head position was unclear in hold and Anya’s feet came off the floor at the end so it was technically a lift.
A score of 32 is OK but will mean that Patrick may need some viewer votes.
So Ben and Mark are at the bottom of the judges leaderboard with Natalie and Ashley at the top. How will it change int he results show. We will find out on Sunday night.
For details on scoring see Strictly Come Dancing Judges Scores