The Strictly Come Dancing 2014 semi-final was a close fought battle and sadly it was EastEnders’ actor Jake Wood and his partner Janette Manrara that left the competition.
They were in the dance-off against Mark Wright and Karen Hauer, who will be competing this weekend in the final. At this stage in the game we still have no clear winner meaning there’s everything to dance for on Saturday night.
We caught up with Robin Windsor to find out what he thought of the semi-final performances, talk about the first 40 of the series, and ask who he’s backing to win the show.
Jake Wood left the competition at the weekend. Do you think it was the right decision?
I think it was one of the closest dance-offs we’ve ever had. It all came down to whether you had performance or technique. Jake had by far the best performance and Mark had great technique even though his Rumba didn’t have a lot of Rumba; whatever he was doing had great technique to it. Len, the traditionalist that he is, chose to have the technique. It was a split decision with the judges again and the public I’m sure.
Mark and Karen Hauer’s Rumba did get split criticism. Some of the judges criticised the lack of Rumba content but others loved it. What did you make of it?
I absolutely loved the dance and I thought it was executed brilliantly. For me there weren’t enough Rumba basics in there. Mark would have struggled with those so Karen did the most incredible job of covering up Mark’s discrepancies. I loved the dance and kind of agreed with Craig (Revel Horwood) but I would have loved to have seen more Rumba in the Rumba.
Similarly Jake was criticised for not having enough Cha Cha in his Cha Cha. Would you agree with that?
There was more Cha Cha in Jake’s Cha Cha than there was Rumba in Mark’s Rumba. Jake’s technique suffered a bit. I’m calling it the Curse of the Cha Cha Cha because that’s two weeks in a row that we’ve had somebody very popular go out on a Cha Cha. Lots of heel leads and a bit too much stomping in his Cha Cha for me.
Both Mark and Jake also danced the Viennese Waltz on Saturday night. Were those routines better do you think?
I really enjoyed Jake’s Viennese Waltz and his Ballroom has actually improved over the series. I thought that was a very good dance for him. Perhaps if he’d done that in the dance-off he may have made it to the final.
Mark’s Viennese Waltz also showed improvement and his improvement has been off the chain. He’s just getting better and better and better.
Simon Webbe and Kristina Rihanoff had a mixed week. The Samba was a bit of a mess but they pulled it back with the Foxtrot. What did you make of their routines?
Simon’s Samba was great and if there hadn’t been that incident in the middle it would have been fantastic. He just didn’t seem to get his rhythm back after he made the mistakes on the Samba rolls. I think he went into it with too much energy so it wasn’t controlled enough, hence the mistake. He came back into himself with a fantastic Foxtrot that thoroughly deserved the 3 10s. It had great choreography by Kristina and it was a great performance. He is a Ballroom boy and he does his Ballroom so well.
Frankie Bridge and Kevin Clifton also had a mixed week. Their Rumba received some criticism for not being traditional but their Argentine Tango wowed the judges. What did you think?
I think Frankie and Kevin’s Rumba was very safe. I understand that they weren’t trying to do a sexy Rumba but for me it was just a little bit safe and flat. Yet again they were another couple that came back and redeemed themselves in the second half with an absolutely fantastic Argentine Tango. I’ve been waiting for Frankie to smoulder and she smouldered; I loved it! With Frankie and Kevin when I heard what they were dancing to I thought this isn’t going to work but once again Kevin pulls it out of the bag with amazing choreography to fit unusual music for an Argentine Tango.
Caroline Flack and Pasha Kovalev had a very strong week. They seem to be the ones to beat after getting the first 40 of the competition and topping the leaderboard in both rounds…
Caroline’s Foxtrot was a little under par for me. I felt she was making lots of mistakes from the waist down and it looked a bit hesitant. She said afterwards that she was listening to the song and it was affecting her. It wasn’t a good dance for me. Then, as every single couple did, they came out and redeemed themselves producing what was probably my favourite dance of the series so far. It just had everything that I wanted to see from a Salsa. When Craig lifted up his 10 panel I actually screamed with delight. It was a great way to finish the semi-final and it’s going to make it a very tight and interesting final.
This weekend’s final will see all of the couples dancing up to three times. Do you still think at this point in the game it could still be anyone’s to win?
It’s absolutely anybody’s to win at the moment. As we all should know it’s all down to the public vote in the final. The judges will have their say but they are just for guidance only. It is up to the winner to decide who will be the winner of Strictly Come Dancing 2014.
Who are you putting your money on to win the series?
I think Caroline may pip everybody at the last hurdle but I’m backing Simon.
Strictly Come Dancing 2014’s final starts at 6.30pm on Saturday night on BBC One. Watch Caroline and Pasha’s show-stopping Salsa below: