Last week’s Strictly Come Dancing came live from Blackpool’s world famous Tower Ballroom and delivered one of its most spectacular instalments yet.
Tonight the show returned to Elstree as the remaining 8 couples danced to secure their place in next week’s show. Bond girl Fiona Fullerton left the show last week with her partner Anton Du Beke after failing to impress the judges or the public at home.
With only a month of the show left, the couples must have been feeling the pressure as they took to the dancefloor. Kicking off the show tonight was Susanna Reid with her partner Kevin Clifton. In Blackpool the couple stole the show with a fiery and traditional Paso Doble which saw them score the highest marks of the series so far. No pressure for this week then! Tonight Susanna and Kevin danced the Cha Cha. Did they open the show with a bang?
Len explained he would be looking at all of the nitty gritty from now on and told Susanna that her leg action wasn’t great. He called the routine ‘acceptable’ but said it wasn’t ‘exceptional’. Bruno told Susanna that her performances ‘fly off the shelves like mince pies at Christmas’ but agreed with Len’s criticisms. Craig said he liked the vampy beginning, timing and personality but said it didn’t pop or zing for him calling it ‘mumsy’. Darcey agreed with the other judges and said it wasn’t Susanna’s dance.
Susanna and Kevin scored 31 out of 40 from the judges.
Second to dance was actor Ashley Taylor Dawson and his partner Ola Jordan who had a very good week in Blackpool last week. One of the strongest male celebrities left in the competition, Ashley is raising his game as the weeks go by. Tonight he was dancing the Waltz with Ola and spent the week at an aquarium swimming with the fishes to see what it felt like to be weightless. Did it pay off on the night?
Bruno said it was ‘beautifully handled’ explaining he was impressed as the timing to the music was difficult to get right for their routine. Craig told Ashley that his head was driving him mad but agreed with Bruno’s compliments. Darcey called Ashley’s performance ‘so slick’ and told him he ‘rose to the occasion’. Len said he enjoyed the light and shade telling Ashley he did a great job.
Ashley and Ola scored 35 out of 40 from the judges.
Actress Natalie Gumede was the next to dance with her partner Artem Chigvintsev. After having to take a week off due to illness, Natalie came back fighting in Blackpool sitting pretty at the top of the leaderboard with Susanna Reid after a stunning Charleston. Following the spectacular group number that opened last week’s show Natalie and Artem visited a local primary school to dance with some of the kids. Tonight Natalie and Artem danced the Tango.
Craig warned he was going to be very picky and said the routine lacked ‘a bit of drama’. Darcey told Natalie to ignore Craig and said she loved the classic Tango. Len said Natalie looked like his favourite Quality Street and told her ‘fabulous’. Bruno said Natalie and Artem set off ‘on the Tango Express’ and declared the routine ‘fabulous’.
Natalie and Artem scored 37 out of 40 from the judges.
Mark Benton took to the floor next with his partner Iveta Lukosiute. Last week Mark and Iveta were in the bottom two with Fiona Fullerton and Anton Du Beke. After being saved by the judges, the pressure was really on tonight for Mark to pull it out of the bag. In his intro VT Mark admitted that he thought his luck had run out last week but this week he’s determined to pull out the technique. Tonight Mark and Iveta danced the Foxtrot but did they impress the judges?
Darcey said Mark makes her smile every week and told him his top-line was much better. Len said Mark has been ‘trained but never tamed’ and likened him to a Dalek. Bruno said Mark ‘brings the sun on Strictly’ telling him he’s always jolly and pleasant. Craig said all the key moments were missing.
Mark and Iveta scored 28 out of 40 from the judges.
Popstar Sophie Ellis-Bextor was the next to dance with her partner Brendan Cole. After a difficult few weeks, Sophie got more praise last week after bringing more personality to her Quickstep in Blackpool. Enjoying a boost in her confidence, Sophie had to pull off the Rumba tonight. Brendan took Sophie to her recording studio to get her emotions flowing ready for tonight’s performance. Did Sophie bring passion to the Rumba?
Len said it was ‘a very pretty dance’ but told Sophie it was lacking in flair. Bruno agreed with Len and said he preferred his Rumba a bit raunchier. Craig agreed with the other judges saying he found it was a bit cold. Darcey told Sophie she needs to over-exaggerate and said she missed the intensity of the dance.
Sophie and Brendan scored 31 out of 40 from the judges.
Hunky Ben Cohen may have danced with his clothes on again last week (boo) but he impressed the judges in Blackpool. This week Ben had to bring personality and fun to the dancefloor to pull off a Charleston with his partner Kristina Rihanoff. The couple received a bit of coaching in the fun department but did it work?
Bruno said the Charleston is a hard dance and told Ben he could have been a bit sharper. Craig said it wasn’t the most electrifying Charleston he’s ever seen. Darcey said the storytelling worked but admitted the routine looked a bit careful on Ben. Len said the timing was good throughout but told Ben he did agree with Craig’s critiques.
Ben and Kristina scored 27 out of 40 from the judges.
The penultimate couple to dance tonight was model Abbey Clancy and her partner Aljaz Skorjanec. Last weekend they scored three 10s from the judges for their performance. Tonight they danced the Paso Doble which Abbey admitted she was finding difficult but Aljaz gave her a boost by surprising her with a message from her nan. Did Abbey get into the spirit of the Paso?
Craig said Abbey’s free arm was a bit loose but admitted he loved the dance. Darcey said Abbey danced a very difficult Paso Doble but told her she would have preferred a harder more dramatic performance. Len said he liked the shapes and choreography but told Abbey she lost control. Bruno told Abbey she should be proud of herself because she’s achieved a lot.
Abbey and Aljaz scored 32 out of 40 from the judges.
Last to dance tonight was Casualty star Patrick Robinson and his partner Anya Garnis. The couple impressed in Blackpool last week with their Samba and despite a wardrobe malfunction Len called it a ‘Wamba’. Tonight Patrick was dancing the Viennese Waltz with Anya so the performance had to be a lot more restrained than last week. Did he scale it back and impress once again?
Darcey said there was a lot of content in the routine but told Patrick that he didn’t look comfortable. Len said ‘good movement, bad spinning movements’ and told them he didn’t like the end. Bruno said Patrick put a lot into it but agreed with Len about the ending. Craig said the rhythm was great but told them as Anya’s feet left the floor at the end of the routine they’d put in an illegal lift.
Patrick and Anya scored 32 out of 40 from the judges.
The leaderboard for tonight’s show was:
Natalie Gumede and Artem Chigvintsev – 37
Ashley Taylor Dawson and Ola Jordan – 35
Abbey Clancy and Aljaz Skorjanec – 32
Patrick Robinson and Anya Garnis – 32
Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Brendan Cole – 31
Susanna Reid and Kevin Clifton – 31
Mark Benton and Iveta Lukosiute – 28
Ben Cohen and Kristina Rihanoff – 27
Tune into the Strictly Come Dancing results show tomorrow night at 7.20pm on BBC One and BBC One HD to find out which couple will be leaving the ballroom. Check out pictures from today’s dress rehearsal in our gallery below: