We don’t know what’s going on with the public voting this series on Strictly but we were gobsmacked when Karen Hauer and her celebrity partner Mark Wright ended up in the bottom two last week.
Thankfully they survived the dance-off and we waved goodbye to Bargain Hunt’s Tim Wonnacott and his partner Natalie Lowe instead. Karen and Mark’s Quickstep was their best dance yet and we still can’t believe they ended up in that situation.
We caught up with Karen to talk about the shock of being in the bottom two, Mark’s fight to get back on top, and how she feels about how well Kevin Clifton and Frankie Bridge are doing this series.
We have to start by talking about the weekend. There was no way you and Mark should been in the bottom two. What happened?
The competition is just so fierce that it could have been any one of us and unfortunately it was us. I thought Mark danced brilliantly this weekend and the Quickstep was one of his best dances so far. It’s just one of those things. That red light went on us and we had to do the dance off. It felt awful. I felt so upset and I was really sad for Mark because it really broke his heart. It really got to him and he was really upset about it.
He took the news really graciously at the weekend and fought for his place in the competition…
It could have been anybody and obviously you never want to be in the bottom two. He’s a fighter and he just took it in his stride. He went out there and performed the best that he could.
Earlier in the week we spoke to Robin Windsor and he suggested maybe you and Mark were in a dangerous place on the leaderboard that may have led people to assume you were safe. How important is it that people pick up the phone and vote for you this weekend?
It’s very, very important that the fans vote for you. Sometimes people might think you’re safe because the judges give you good comments and you’re in the middle of the leaderboard but actually that’s the most dangerous place to be. It’s really important that our fans get behind us even more. We know they’re all out there and they care. We got some really nice messages over the weekend after we did the dance-off and they were shocked. It was just one of those things where they feel that you’re safe because it’s not going really good but it’s not going really bad either. It’s the toughest place to be in the middle.
Putting this little knock aside, Mark is really progressing every week and the judges are giving him great comments. He must be feeling more confident about his abilities?
Definitely. I can see the improvement and I’m really glad that the judges see the improvement as well. He feels really good and every time he comes into rehearsal he’s picking up the steps and he has a better understanding of the technique and of his posture. Little by little he’s really catching up. It was a little bit of a knock to his confidence over the weekend but he’s really, really strong-minded. He just got back on it and started working hard again this week so I was really happy about that.
This weekend you and Mark are performing the Samba. What can we expect from the routine?
Well he’s coming back kicking and fighting. He’s really got a fire in his belly and he’s looking absolutely brilliant so I’m really excited for this dance. He’s really got a nice feel for the Samba and he’s actually having a lot of fun with it. We’re going to see the same Mark that we saw in the Cha Cha; the smiley one, the one we always see! You’ll definitely be getting that out of him and I think he’s doing brilliantly this week. Seriously I thought that being in the dance-off would knock him down and it would be hard to get him back up but if anything it’s really fired him up and he’s a fighter.
We’ve heard it said that the Samba is one of the hardest of the Latin dances. Would you say that was true?
Each dance has it’s own characteristics and the Samba has to have that double bounce action and the footwork has to be there. The attitude of it is very festive and you have to feel like you’re in a carnival. He’s handling it really well actually and he’s got a nice little rhythm to him that comes very natural. I’m still drilling every single part of his body right now and I’m trying to get that bounce action as much as possible. It is one of the toughest Latin dances definitely.
Something we haven’t talked about yet this series is Frankie & Kevin. Both of you are having a great year so far on Strictly this year but how proud are you that Kevin is doing so well?
I’m extremely proud of Kevin and Frankie. Frankie is just a little dynamite and I absolutely love the fact that she really turns it on when she goes out there and she’s not afraid of performing. I absolutely love them and they’re a great partnership. I always look forward to seeing their dances and they’re really inspiring for Mark and I every week. We really look up to them.
What can you tease about this weekend’s pro dance?
There’s going to be shouting, clapping and you’re going to see cowboy boots. That’s all I’m going to say.
Strictly Come Dancing 2014 continues at 6.30pm Saturday on BBC One. Watch Mark and Karen’s Quickstep from week 4 below: