At the weekend Alison Hammond fell at the final hurdle and missed out on the chance to dance at Blackpool’s Tower Ballroom with her partner Aljaz Skorjanec.
This weekend the remaining couples will head to the seaside resort to dance in the iconic venue, as has become annual tradition. For most of the couples getting to Blackpool is their milestone and it’s often the point where the competition gets serious.
We caught up with Strictly pro Robin Windsor to talk about Alison’s exit, find out why Judy is still in the competition, and discuss the magic of Blackpool.
Alison Hammond left the ballroom at the weekend. Do you think it was her time to go?
Every week whoever leaves the dancefloor, I don’t necessarily think it’s their time; they’ve just ended up in the bottom two with the wrong person. Unfortunately Alison ended up in the bottom two with Caroline who is an easy finalist for me. Out of the two in the dance-off with was Alison’s time. Judy Murray has escaped with yet another get out of jail free card.
Who is voting for Judy? Do you think people are just voting for her for the entertainment value?
There’s been a lot of uproar online that Judy’s got through to another week but what you’ve got to remember is that the judges’ leaderboard had Judy at the bottom. It’s then up the public to do what they want to do and they keep saving her. People really can’t be complaining. They’re blaming the judges and the show but it’s the public who keep voting her through every week.
It feels like we’re nearing the point where the public could turn on Judy because we’re starting to lose good dancers. Do you think Blackpool could be the turning point?
I think Blackpool’s the turning point every year. I think Dave Myers went out this week last year but look at Ann Widdecombe who got all the way through to the quarter final I think. It really is up to the public to make sure they vote for the correct ones. What’s going to happen if we get Frankie Bridge and Pixie Lott in the bottom two together?
That would be a really tough one to call…
Yeah! What happens when you get two really good dancers in bottom two and Judy is still sailing through? It is a public show and people can vote for whom they want and they’re voting for Judy.
Simon Webbe and Kristina Rihanoff came back fighting this weekend didn’t they?
Now this is the Simon and Kristina we’ve been looking forward to seeing the entire series. Absolutely incredible! I’m not quite sure where that came from but I suspect Kristina’s given him a little pep talk and said ‘look if you want to get to get to Blackpool you’re going to have to come, you’re going to have to perform and you’re going to have to sell it’ and he did all of the above. He was absolutely fantastic. That’s the Simon we’ve all wanted to see. What you’re seeing every week is that somebody different is being that person and somebody different is becoming a front-runner. It’s so open that no one can tell what will happen.
The leaderboard is so close this year and at the weekend Jake Wood was in second to last place with Alison just above Judy. Do you think Jake could be in danger if he doesn’t up his game?
I think Jake’s going to be very safe. The Rumba is obviously the most difficult dance for the male celebrities to do. It was a great routine but I just felt he was leaning so forward to Janette that he lost everything the Rumba needed. I know he’ll come out at Blackpool with all guns blazing and fire himself back up to the top of that leaderboard.
The couples are all so close this year in terms of their scores. Is there anyone who performed this weekend that you think deserved to score better?
I really enjoyed Frankie and Kevin’s Samba. I thought Craig was extremely harsh to Frankie. It was a very traditional Samba with lots of traditional steps in it and I really enjoyed it. It could have been a little bit more flamboyant for me but nevertheless I still really enjoyed it.
Steve Backshall came back fighting with his Paso Doble this weekend but was criticised for being too aggressive. Do you agree with the comments from the judges?
I actually do agree. Steve and Ola’s Paso Doble was a bit aggressive. He seemed so angry. Of course you need to play the part in the Paso Doble but unfortunately I think he took it up one step too high for me.
He seemed to be trying to make up for his disastrous routine during Halloween Week. Do you think he threw in the kitchen sink this week and hoped for the best?
Yes I think he threw everything in there just to make sure. He was like ‘this is what the Paso Doble is all about, this is what I’m going to do, I’m not going to mess it up and I’m going to Blackpool!’
Mark Wright and Karen Hauer performed a Waltz this week. Do you think Mark proved himself in Ballroom or would you say he’s better in the Latin?
At the moment I think Mark is better in the Latin. He did a great Waltz but I would have liked to see him use his standing leg to create a bigger heel lead, which would have helped him, glide across the floor a little more. Nevertheless he’s improving all the time.
Let’s talk about leaderboard toppers Pixie and Trent. We didn’t think it deserved a 10 from Darcey. What did you think?
I absolutely loved it. I thought it was technically brilliant. I loved the theme, I loved the technique, I loved the relationship between the two of them. It didn’t need to have a huge amount of showbusiness to it because it was just technically perfect. I actually agree and I would have given it a 10. I really loved it.
Sunetra Sarker and Brendan Cole danced a Foxtrot this weekend but it wasn’t quite a return to form was it?
She made quite a lot of errors this week. What she did, which was really clever, was kept her top line all the way through. If you weren’t watching her feet you’d never have known that she’d gone wrong which is quite a difficult thing to do. She did make a few errors. She’s at home in the ballroom and she easily deserves her place in Blackpool.
You’ve danced in Blackpool many times over the years. How fantastic is it to be able to take your celebrity partner there and let them experience dancing in the Tower Ballroom?
The professional dancers alone going to Blackpool is special because it’s where most of us used to compete growing up. There’s something very special about taking our celebrities there. They get to experience what we experience and it’s the most magical place to dance. It’s one of the best ballroom floors in the world. We just all love Blackpool! It’s the hub of British Ballroom dancing and it has been for many, many years. It’s not until the celebrities take that first step on the floor that they realise how special it is.
Strictly Come Dancing continues at 7pm Saturday on BBC One as the couples head to Blackpool. Watch Pixie and Trent’s Foxtrot from the weekend: