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Blackpool ho! The Strictly Come Dancing weekly round-up

PUBLISHED: 09:22 12 November 2018

RAF Servicewomen - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

RAF Servicewomen - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

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The Strictly Come Dancing stars are off to Blackpool next week, without Danny John Jules on the party bus. But who was in the dance-off with him, who wowed the judges - and where is Craig’s paddle?

Strictly 2018 Celebrities and Pro Dancers - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy LevyStrictly 2018 Celebrities and Pro Dancers - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

So we are a whisker away from Blackpool - the theatre of dreams, the pantheon of prancing, the tower of tantalising toe-tipping.

This weeks Strictly in a sentence saw Graeme’s Salsa gym routine beat Danny’s Samba in the dance-off (and blind viewers at home), Shirley stick the knife into Faye for lacking ambition (boo, hiss), and Joe Sugg’s Nan’s dream of her grandson getting to Blackpool come true.

For all the nitty and extra gritty, come on inside:

Catty Danny Cast Away

Danny John-Jules and Amy Dowden lose in the dance off to Graeme Swann and Oti Mabuse - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy LevyDanny John-Jules and Amy Dowden lose in the dance off to Graeme Swann and Oti Mabuse - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

After a strong start to the series and in the fog of celebrity gossip, it’s hard to tell if Danny was a popular man on Strictly.

The last two weeks on the show, when the storm of backstage rows and snooty elitism reached their peak, it has looked like he and Amy were getting a frosty reception from the other contestants in Claudia Winkleman’s plinth.

An awkward Salsa to a highly auto-tuned Sigala track placed him bottom of the leaderboard for a second week and in the bottom two for the first time.

However, after a knock-out at the hands of double dance-off survivor Graeme Swann, the scene was rather friendly as other contestants were quick to get a hug in.

Amy Dowden, Danny John-Jules - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy LevyAmy Dowden, Danny John-Jules - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

Never one to keep quiet on Twitter or in person, I’m sure Danny will be back on talk show television soon to discuss his ‘journey’ and be offered limp, probing questions about his behaviour he can dismiss as tabloid tittle tattle.

Graeme Swannsong

The lurid, neon, eye-melting routine from Graeme and Oti this week saved them by the seat of their super short gym shorts.

Oti, choreographers and make-up/hair are pulling off miracles backstage, somehow burdening him with insane themes and costumes whilst showing off enough of his moves to keep him in the running.

Oti Mabuse, Graeme Swann - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy LevyOti Mabuse, Graeme Swann - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

Swann is now the odds on candidate for voting off in Blackpool and no amount of treadmills, space suits or giant cricket bats will paper over his dancing cracks.

The best of luck at the top of the tower, Graeme - and we hope you beat that fake tan addiction you’ve developed.

Ashley Robbed-erts

In all good bookshops this week is my new children’s short story: “Has Craig lost his paddle?”

Pasha Kovalev, Ashley Roberts - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy LevyPasha Kovalev, Ashley Roberts - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

Potential hiding places include at the Dagenham dog track, the 45 bus from Elstree, down Bruno’s trousers and the cloakroom at Fabric.

All we know for sure is that he cannot give any celebrity 10 points, because he has found petty faults with three dances in three weeks, with Ashley and Pasha the latest victims.

Their couple’s choice routine - a dramatic contemporary number in memory of her father - was ‘lacking in breath’, and only earned them a total of 39.

The camera barely leaves Roberts as she opens and closes the dance solo and moves into some incredible shapes and is definitely worth going back to watch.

Craig Revel Horwood, Dame Darcey Bussell, Shirley Ballas, Bruno Tonioli - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy LevyCraig Revel Horwood, Dame Darcey Bussell, Shirley Ballas, Bruno Tonioli - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

Is Craig waiting until Blackpool to start handing out maximums?

Un-Faye-rly Marked

The live audience were irked by this one: Shirley seemed to criticise Faye directly for a dance lacking in ‘dynamism’ after she and Giovanni performed a high-energy Jive.

The comments were aimed at how comfortably Faye seemed to handle the pace of the routine.

Faye Tozer, Giovanni Pernice - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy LevyFaye Tozer, Giovanni Pernice - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

A lot is expected by viewers of Faye after consistently high scores from the judges, but to mark her down for failing to push the boundaries with choreography she would not have chosen and for coping with the pace seems inconsistent.

It’s no longer clear to the lay viewer what the judges criteria for a good dance is. While it makes for great water cooler chat and dinner table debate, it does muddy the waters.

Moments of note: Faye getting a message from British soldiers out in Oman as a thank you for Steps visiting 17 years ago (big steps fans in Oman, apparently), and Giovanni thanking everyone, the good egg that he is.

The Nation’s Sweethearts

Stacey Dooley, Kevin Clifton - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy LevyStacey Dooley, Kevin Clifton - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

Stacey Dooley and Joe Sugg both danced well, scored well and went through, but they are scoring much more highly in homes up and down the country.

The pair are epitomising the journey from amateur to potential champion that audiences love to see, RE: Ore Oduba and Joe McFadden.

Despite both being young and in shape, they don’t have Faye and Ashley’s musical background and smell less like ringers.

Expect to see at least one in the final.

Diane Buswell, Joe Sugg - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy LevyDiane Buswell, Joe Sugg - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

High Risers

Lauren Steadman and Charles Venn flipped the table on the scoreboard - the regular strugglers were only beaten by Faye and Ashley.

Charles’ Charleston (oh, how we laughed) let him show off the same timing and musicality he had in his high-scoring street dance. Even his skintight bedazzled vest even took a backseat to the dance, finally showing that Charles’ can use his body to get what he wants without selling his sexuality.

Lauren even used the much-dreaded floor spin effectively.

Karen Clifton, Charles Venn - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy LevyKaren Clifton, Charles Venn - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

For weeks the act of throwing a woman on the ground has been used to cover up the fact that a couple are not able to pull off any other lifts, but Lauren’s arm made the move almost infeasible.

VTs have been showing Lauren pushing AJ to try harder moves for weeks and not only did she get her way, the pair nailed it. Hats were tipped.

Silverton Slipping

Kate Silverton has avoided the dance off every week, despite finishing with a bottom-two score more than once.

Lauren Steadman, AJ Pritchard - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy LevyLauren Steadman, AJ Pritchard - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

With another dancer out of the competition, her public appeal has likely stretched as far as it can get her - she will now have to start outperforming other celebrities in the dance off to make the cut.

Potential opponents next Sunday could be Graeme and Oti, or Lauren and AJ should they struggle with some difficult dances.

A Remembrance Day Showdance

There was a moving tribute for Remembrance Day to mark the centenary of the RAF and the women that flew in it, led by pro dancer Amy Dowden and included serving members of the air force in the performance.

Aljaz Skorjanec, Kate Silverton - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy LevyAljaz Skorjanec, Kate Silverton - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

It is difficult to make a televised celebrity dance competition a sincere platform for remembrance, but there was a genuine sincerity in all their movement.

The costume were still there, but the smiles were muted and the sense of the occasion took prominence without politicising a family show. A tough brief well executed.

Want to chat more chit about Strictly? Head to @JJFoxford on Twitter and let me know what you’re thinking. See you next week!

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