Tonight Strictly Come Dancing was broadcast live from the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool. Last year the show didn’t make it to the seaside resort following the 2011 final but thankfully they decided to return during this year’s series.
The show opened with a very colourful group dance featuring the Strictly pros, the celebs and a host of dancers young and old. What a way to open the show! The group dances just get better and better as the weeks go by and we don’t know how they are going to continue to top.
With 9 couples left in the competition there was everything to dance for tonight as they tried to secure their place in next week’s show. Natalie Gumede returned to the dancefloor with her partner Artem Chigvintsev after having to miss the show due to illness last week.
First to dance tonight was popstar Sophie Ellis-Bextor with her partner Brendan Cole. Last week we felt that Sophie was drastically undermarked last week for her gorgeous Argentine Tango. She was also told she needs to bring more personality to the dancefloor. Leading up to the live show Sophie turned to her mother Janet Ellis who is known for being a presenter and actress, for help with the performance side of dancing. Did it give her the boost she needs for her Quickstep?
Well the night started off with a standing ovation from the audience. What did the judges think? Len said Sophie was ‘full of character, intent and involvement’ tonight labelling her dance ‘spot on’. Bruno said Sophie’s performance level was ‘so much better’ and told her Blackpool had worked its magic. Craig said he ‘loved the story’ but told Sophie her topline wasn’t great tonight. Darcey said Sophie gave her exactly what she wanted with her performance.
Sophie and Brendan scored 34 out of 40 from the judges.
Casualty star Patrick Robinson was the second celebrity to dance tonight with his partner Anya Garnis. Last week Craig told Patrick that he’s the best male celebrity in the competition so this week expectations are very high. Tonight Patrick danced the rather difficult Samba so getting another 10 was always going to be a tough challenge. How did Patrick fare with the Latin dance?
Despite Anya getting her heel caught in her costume it seemed the audience loved it. Would the judges be so kind? Bruno called it a ‘blistering hot Samba’ but said a couple of errors prevented it from being perfect. Craig agreed with Bruno and said it was unfortunate it ‘all went horribly wrong’. Darcey said Patrick gave ‘a fast, pure technical Samba’ with a few tiny faults. Len called the routine a ‘Wamba’ and said he was excited by the routine.
Patrick and Anya scored 34 out of 40 from the judges.
Former rugby star and all-round hunk Ben Cohen took to Blackpool’s Tower Ballroom next with his partner Kristina Rihanoff. Last week’s Jive wasn’t perhaps Ben’s best dance but two big thumbs up for the backwards flip at the beginning of the routine. Ben admitted he was disappointed with Craig’s low score. This week Ben and Kristina were dancing the American Smooth and aiming for better scores.
Craig started off the comments saying ‘Big Ben is back’ and said it was ‘a vast improvement’. Darcey said that Ben carried the routine off with ease and called him an ‘attentive partner’. Len said that Ben never went away disagreeing with Craig’s comment and complimented Kristina on her choreography. Bruno said the routine had ‘warmth, care and involvement’ and told Ben he did the most difficult parts very well.
Ben and Kristina scored 32 out of 40 from the judges.
Hollyoaks star Ashley Taylor Dawson took to the floor next with his professional partner Ola Jordan. Ashley received praise from the judges for his Quickstep last week and admitted he was feeling the pressure this week. Paso Doble was the dance of the night with a Wild West theme which he seemed to be struggling with. Ola gave him a lasso in training to try and turn him into a bad boy. Did Ashley find his inner bad boy tonight?
Yet another standing ovation from the audience! Darcey opened the comments said Ashley wasn’t quite a matador and wanted a bit more from the routine. Len disagreed with Darcey and said Ashley came back ‘stronger than ever’ and admitted he was surprised how strongly he danced the routine. Bruno said it was ‘fully loaded and powerful’. Craig said the cowboy theme didn’t work for him but told Ashley his performance was ‘extraordinary’.
Ashley and Ola scored 35 out of 40 from the judges.
Bond girl Fiona Fullerton has found her feet in the last few weeks and has helped Anton Du Beke enjoy his longest stretch on Strictly for a while. Last week’s Paso Doble was met with a mixed reaction from the judges with Craig calling it ‘forgettable’. Fiona admitted she was very disappointed with Craig’s comment but said she couldn’t wait to get to Blackpool. This week she was dancing the American Smooth. Did she overcome her fear of the lifts?
Len said the lifts were ‘economy’ and the movement ‘business class’. Bruno said the attitude was right but pointed out that she seems a bit lost when the dance changes directions. Craig said he would have liked the dance to be a bit smoother and pointed out several errors. Darcey said she enjoyed the little details but told Fiona to work on getting into the lifts better.
Fiona and Anton scored 29 out of 40 from the judges.
Model Abbey Clancy was the next celebrity to dance tonight with her partner Aljaz Skorjanec. Last week Abbey pulled it back with a great Charleston after being in the bottom two during Halloween week. This week Abbey was dancing the Quickstep and Aljaz took her to a tea dance to get tips from the locals as to how she could get good scores from the judges. Did Abbey have another strong week?
Bruno said it was ‘a Quickstep on Pleasure Beach’ and declared ‘champagne for Abbey’ complimenting her technical ability. Craig said there was a lot of gapping in the routine, criticised lots of small points but admitted he ‘loved it’. Darcey said that Abbey’s routine was ‘beautiful and controlled’. Len said if Abbey was a stick of Blackpool rock she’d have ‘talent’ written through her.
Abbey and Aljaz scored 37 out of 40 from the judges.
Actor Mark Benton danced next with his partner Iveta Lukosiute. Last week Mark found himself in the bottom two against Hairy Biker Dave Myers. After being saved by the judges Mark was more determined than ever tonight to prove he deserved to be in the competition. In his intro VT Mark said he felt like he’s let Iveta down after struggling with the Rumba. Tonight Mark and Iveta danced the Jive. Did they bring the fun factor back?
Craig said he thought the dance was ‘flat-footed and stompy’ and told Mark he’s looking for more technique at this stage of the competition. Darcey called it a ‘show-stopping performance’ and told Mark she loved it. Len said you go to Blackpool for fun and that’s what he got from Mark’s performance. Bruno said Mark ‘put the feel good factor through the roof’ and told him he did more dance content than ever.
Mark and Iveta scored 29 out of 40 from the judges.
The penultimate couple to dance tonight was Susanna Reid and her partner Kevin Clifton. Susanna has been doing very well so far in the competition and is one of the front-runners to win the glitterball trophy. Last week’s Waltz was one of the judges’ favourites of the evening. Tonight it was the Paso Doble but was it another good week for Susanna and Kevin?
Darcey said it was ‘wonderfully traditional’ and told Susanna she ‘ate up that dancefloor’. Len said it was like Spanish tapas and full of ‘tasty morsels’. Bruno said it was ‘fantastic’. Craig offered no criticism and sad ‘fab-u-lous!’
Susanna and Kevin scored 39 out of 40 from the judges.
Last to dance tonight was former Coronation Street star Natalie Gumede with her partner Artem Chigvintsev. Unfortunately the couple couldn’t dance last weekend after Natalie fainted twice during rehearsals. Thankfully she got the all-clear from the doctor this week and was fine to dance tonight. Tonight Natalie was back on the dancefloor with a Jive. Is she back up to leaderboard topping status once again?
Len said like the Blackpool Illuminations it was ‘spectacular’. Bruno said it was a suitable finale to a fantastic night in Blackpool. Craig said he loved the modern twist and though it was ‘sensational’. Darcey said Natalie added character and personality which was a joy to watch.
Natalie and Artem scored 39 out of 40 from the judges.
The leaderboard for the night was:
Natalie Gumede and Artem Chigvintsev – 39
Susanna Reid and Kevin Clifton – 39
Abbey Clancy and Aljaz Skorjanec – 37
Ashley Taylor Dawson and Ola Jordan – 35
Patrick Robinson and Anya Garnis – 35
Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Brendan Cole – 34
Ben Cohen and Kristina Rihanoff – 32
Fiona Fullerton and Anton Du Beke – 29
Mark Benton and Iveta Lukosiute – 29
Tune into the Strictly Come Dancing results show tomorrow night at 7.15pm on BBC One and BBC One HD to find out which couple will be leaving the competition. Check out our gallery for photos of all the couples in dress rehearsal earlier today: