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Strictly Come Dancing 2017 week 2 recap

The couples aimed to impress ahead of the first public vote of the series.

Strictly Come Dancing 2017 - Simon Rimmer and Karen Clifton
Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

Tonight the 15 celebrities and their pro partners danced for the second time as Strictly Come Dancing 2017 aired its second live show of the series.

Last weekend saw all of the couples dance for the first time with former JLS star Aston Merrygold topping the leaderboard with his partner Janette Manrara. Close behind them was Debbie McGee and her partner Giovanni Pernice.

Shirley Ballas, the new Head Judge, got her feet firmly under the table last week winning viewers over quickly and proving to have a great ability to offer constructive technical critique.

The public vote opened at the end of tonight’s show and tomorrow one couple will leave the competition. Keep reading to find out how everyone got on…

Chizzy Akudolu & Pasha Kovalev

Chizzy Akudolu & Pasha Kovalev

Chizzy’s week one Cha-Cha was frenetic but fun, so I was keen to see how she’d fare in her Foxtrot to I’m A Woman from Smokey Joe’s Cafe. In training Chizzy struggled a little with the steps but received a supportive visit from her sister.

The dance: Chizzy was sassy and confident in her solo sections but there was a lot of gapping when she was in hold and her top line wobbled a little. However she brought tons of personality to the routine and really showed off her acting skills. I think she may be stronger in the Latin dances but am hoping she’ll survive this week.

The comments: Shirley said Chizzy’s technique was disappointing and wanted more sophistication. Bruno liked her sassiness but said the style of the dance was lost. Craig wanted more grace and less musical theatre but praised her musicality and said she was fun to watch, while Darcey said she sold the performance.

The score: 3, 5, 4, 4 – 17 out of 40

Aston Merrygold & Janette Manrara

Aston Merrygold & Janette Manrara

Last week Aston topped the leaderboard with his smooth slick Foxtrot – but could his Salsa to Despacito by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee ft. Justin Bieber keep him ahead of the pack? This week in training Aston spoke about the pressure of being at the top, whilst he and his partner Janette went glamping to get into the spirit of their musical festival-themed dance.

The dance: It got off to a bit of a slow start, but Aston looked like he was loving every second. He and Janette had great synchronisation in the side-by-side sections and he pulled off some very tricky moves (including one particularly impressive lift), but I felt he was a little flat-footed in places. However he definitely cemented his place as the frontrunner for me.

The comments: Bruno called him a ‘snake-hipped wonder’ and said it was almost perfection. Craig said there was a lack of figure eight rotation but praised Aston’s rhythm and timing. Darcey liked his control and stamina, whilst Shirley ‘loved it, loved it, loved it’ despite a couple of stumbles and Aston’s sickled feet.

The score: 7, 8, 8, 9 – 32 out of 40

Susan Calman & Kevin Clifton

Kevin Clifton & Susan Calman

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

Susan showed great promise in her Viennese Waltz last week, so I had high hopes for her as she took on the first Charleston of the series to If You Knew Susie by Enoch Light and the Charleston City All-Stars. This week in training Susan spoke about how much she’s enjoying her Strictly experience and took Kevin to the filming of her new TV show Armchair Detectives.

The dance: I have to say I was a little disappointed in Susan’s Charleston. She had great facial expressions and her synchronisation with Kevin was very good, but for me her timing was a little off and the footwork was slightly sloppy. It was a fun routine to watch but I was hoping for much more. Then again, it is only week two so I’m hoping she’ll continue to improve as time goes on.

The comments: Craig said she had no swivel, whilst Darcey said she made the dance her own. Shirley called her entertaining and bright and praised her co-ordination, and Bruno said she needed to sharpen up her footwork.

The score: 3, 6, 7, 6 – 22 out of 40

Charlotte Hawkins & Brendan Cole

Charlotte Hawkins & Brendan Cole

Charlotte surprised us with a graceful and elegant Waltz in week one, and this week she took on a Cha-Cha to Sugar by Maroon 5. In training Charlotte spoke about the relief of getting the first week over with but said she was nervous about the spins in the routine.

The dance: Looking stunning in silver, Charlotte seemed a little nervous and unfortunately this came through in her routine. Although all the moves were there, it seemed quite placed and she was skippy in parts, whilst her legs were bent throughout. I think she could go far if she lets go more but sadly this just wasn’t her dance.

The comments: Darcey was disappointed and said Charlotte lacked timing and flirty character. Shirley suggested that the routine should have been simpler. Bruno told her to work on strengthening her core, whilst Craig called it a dance disaster.

The score: 2, 4, 3, 3 – 12 out of 40

Joe McFadden & Katya Jones

Joe McFadden & Katya Jones

Joe wowed the judges and the audience with his fast and furious Jive last week. But how would he fare with his Tango to Castle on the Hill by Ed Sheeran? In training this week Joe and his partner Katya worked on his posture and frame but he struggled to remember the steps.

The dance: I’m not sure if Katya’s strict training paid off – although Joe’s posture started off well, he lost his frame as the routine went on. That said, there was plenty of drama in the choreography and it was full of sharp staccato moves. Although the routine took a little too long to get going and I would have liked more Tango content, I think it showed Joe is definitely one to watch.

The comments: Shirley said it had too much rise and fall, whilst Bruno said it was too skippy and messy. Craig said there was too much attack and energy, and Darcey told Joe to come back and do better next week.

The score: 5, 6, 5, 6 – 22 out of 40

Brian Conley & Amy Dowden

Brian Conley & Amy Dowden

Brian seemed disappointed by his low score in his Tango last week, but it seemed like a Cha-Cha to Peaches and Herb’s Shake Your Groove Thing would be a much better fit for him. In training Brian spoke about being excited about the energy and showmanship of the dance but found the Cha-Cha walks difficult.

The dance: Wearing possibly the sparkliest suit ever seen on Strictly, Brian improved considerably from last week. Although the hip movement was lacking and his footwork wasn’t great, he had good co-ordination alongside Amy and got to to show off more of his cheeky personality. Not the most technically proficient routine I’ve ever seen, but vastly better than week one.

The comments: Bruno said the footwork got stuck in the 70s, whilst Craig criticised the lack of timing. Darcey said Brian gave it his all but the technique wasn’t there. Shirley said Brian needed to embrace the technical aspects but was a front-runner for entertainment levels and had made an improvement.

The score: 3, 5, 5, 6 – 19 out of 40

Gemma Atkinson & Aljaž Škorjanec

Aljaz Skorjanec and Gemma Atkinson

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

Gemma seemed a little nervous when she opened the show last week, but I was keen to see if she would be a little more comfortable in the Ballroom dances. This week she and her partner Aljaz danced a Waltz to Un Giorni Per Noi (A Time For Us) by Josh Groban. In training Gemma found the steps difficult but her spirits was lifted by inviting Aljaz and her family over for dinner.

The dance: Gemma looked visibly more relaxed than last week and it shone through in her performance. She delivered a beautiful and lyrical Waltz with lovely rise and fall that flowed well across the floor and was full of emotion. I think she’s definitely more of a Ballroom girl but if she can keep this up and work on the details then she could go a long way.

The comments: Craig said it was an improvement but that Gemma got lost out of the standing spin. Darcey called her classy and elegant and praised her control through changes of direction. Shirley liked Gemma’s footwork and frame, whilst Bruno said it was stylish and told her to believe in herself.

The score: 6, 6, 7, 7 – 26 out of 40

Reverend Richard Coles & Dianne Buswell

Reverend Richard Coles & Dianne Buswell

Despite providing plenty of entertainment in his Cha-Cha last week, Richard was heavily criticised for his technique. This week he and Dianne performed the series’ first American Smooth, dancing to Billy Ocean’s Love Really Hurts Without You. In training Dianne accompanied Richard to the set of The Big Painting Challenge to practice.

The dance: Richard started off much lighter on his feet than last week and his posture in hold was good, but sadly lost it as the dance went on. He also struggled with the lifts and his hands were a bit all over the place. However it was incredibly charming, he performed it well and I liked the personality he put into the routine, as well as his side-by-side steps with Dianne – it’s clear they’re a great partnership.

The comments: Darcey said it was lumpy and lacked glamour, but Richard showed great care in his lifts. Shirley said it needed more content but was entertaining. Bruno called it a feast of entertainment, but Craig said the falling petals had more grace.

The score: 3, 4, 5, 5 – 17 out of 40

Ruth Langsford & Anton Du Beke

Ruth Langsford & Anton Du Beke

After a tentative start with her week one Waltz, this week Ruth got to show off a different side of her personality with a Great Gatsby-themed Charleston to The Charleston by Bob Wilson and his Varsity Rhythm Boys. In training Ruth and Anton spent time practising at the This Morning studios.

The dance: Ruth had plenty of swivel in her solo sections, but I felt some of the moves were a bit clunky and she needed more exaggerated movements and expressions. That said, she seemed to settle more into the routine as it went on and I think if she stays in her confidence will improve, which should come through in her dances.

The comments: Shirley said Ruth ‘nailed it’ and praised her timing and co-ordination. Bruno said it was a big improvement, while Craig wanted more energy. Darcey said she wanted to see Ruth believe in herself more and come back even stronger.

The score: 3, 5, 6, 6 – 20 out of 40

Simon Rimmer & Karen Clifton

Simon Rimmer & Karen Clifton

After struggling in his Paso Doble last week, Simon had a chance to redeem himself with his Waltz to Rogers and Hammerstein’s You’ll Never Walk Alone. In training Simon took Karen to Anfield, the home of Liverpool Football Club, to show how much the song means to him.

The dance: Simon showed great improvement from last week – it felt like he was leading Karen throughout and he had excellent posture. He was up on his toes a bit too much and his left arm looked a little stiff, plus there were a few stop-start moments, but it was an incredibly moving performance and considerably better than his Paso Doble. He’s not quite there yet for me but definitely has some great potential.

The comments: Bruno said it started well but needed more flow. Craig said it showed a lot of promise and said Simon managed to get some heel leads in there, but wanted more performance. Darcey called Simon strong and elegant, and Shirley gave Simon a hug and said he clearly felt the music.

The score: 4, 4, 6, 5 – 19 out of 40

 

Mollie King & AJ Pritchard

Mollie King & AJ Pritchard

Mollie showed plenty of personality in her Jive last week, but seemed as though she’d be more relaxed in Ballroom hold. Would she deliver an addictive Tango to Tina Turner’s version of Addicted To Love? In training Mollie struggled with getting into the character of the Tango, so AJ set her a challenge to be more stern and she created the alter ego of Tallulah the Tango Queen

The dance: Mollie had excellent posture and no gapping in hold, but I’d have liked to see more flexed knees and sharper head movements. However she brought the sassy, assertive attitude in spades and I think if she can continue to become more confident in the performance aspects then she can definitely go far.

The comments: Craig criticised the illegal lift and said she used her shoulders too much, but praised Mollie’s attack and intent. Darcey said it was a complex Tango and that she liked Mollie’s focus and character. Shirley said there was plenty of basic fundamentals and that Mollie had a good frame, but wanted softer knees. Bruno liked Mollie and AJ’s connection but said she wobbled in some of the poses.

The score: 4, 6, 8, 7 – 25 out of 40

Jonnie Peacock & Oti Mabuse

Jonnie Peacock & Oti Mabuse

After his charming Waltz last week, this week Jonnie faced the Jive to Chuck Berry’s Jonnie B. Goode. It’s often seen as a difficult dance for tall celebrities, but could he buck the trend? In training Jonnie took Oti to the running track where he first trained.

The dance: Jonnie’s Wild West-themed Jive had lots of personality and fun about it, but for me the kicks felt a little sloppy and he was stooped a bit too much. However he coped incredibly well with the complex footwork and had a great energy throughout. A great improvement on last week and I think if he can be a bit more controlled then he’ll go far in this competition.

The comments: Darcey said it was strong and stylish with clean kick-ball changes and that Jonnie showed no fear. Shirley said the kicks and flicks were sharp, but Craig thought there was a little hesitation and Jonnie needed to focus on his arms.

The score: 6, 7, 8, 8 – 29 out of 40

Debbie McGee & Giovanni Pernice

Giovanni Pernice & Debbie McGee

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

Debbie McGee surprised everyone with her fiery Paso Doble, but this week was a complete change as she took on the Viennese Waltz, dancing to Billy Joel’s She’s Always A Woman. In training Debbie and Giovanni went sailing on her boat with Giovanni as the captain before practising on a riverbank.

The dance: Debbie really showed off her ballet experience with great leg extensions, excellent posture and beautiful flow in her arm movements. The routine had a lovely romantic flow about it and I loved the side-by-side section – it’s obvious that she and Giovanni have a fantastic partnership.

The comments: Shirley praised Giovanni’s choreography and called Debbie an English rose. Bruno said she was graceful and fluid, whilst Craig simply called it ‘a-ma-zing’. Darcey said it was beautiful and particularly praised Debbie’s hold.

The score: 8, 9, 9, 8 – 34 out of 40

 

Davood Ghadami & Nadiya Bychkova

Davood Ghadami & Nadiya Bychkova

Davood and Nadiya sizzled in their steamy Cha-Cha last Saturday. This week they took on the first Quickstep of the series, dancing to Last Nite by The Strokes – could it help them speed to the top of the leaderboard? This week in training Davood and Nadiya practised in a library as this was where their dance was set.

The dance: Davood showed off bags of personality and had lovely movement across the foor, but I wanted his kicks to be a bit sharper and it was a little skippy in parts. That said he pulled off some excellent moves, including catching Nadiya, and looked like he was having an absolute ball throughout.

The comments: Bruno said it was fast and furious, whilst Craig praised the energy but said it needed more style. Darcey wanted Davood to focus his energy on his footwork, and Shirley said it took too long to get going and wanted a more traditional routine.

The score: 6, 7, 7, 7 – 27 out of 40

Alexandra Burke & Gorka Marquez

Alexandra Burke & Gorka Marquez

After her romantic week one Waltz, Alexandra took on a completely different style with her dark and intense Paso Doble to Jennifer Lopez’s Ven A Bailar. In training Alexandra needed to stay more in control, so Gorka took her to try out a mechanical bull. As you do.

The dance: This was definitely a fiery and passionate Paso, with Alexandra showing great drive across the floor and excellent control, particularly in her side-by-side sections with Gorka. It was a bit frenetic in places but packed with content and full of energy. If Alexandra can keep this level of performance up then she could be lifting the glitterball come December.

The comments: Darcey praised the strength and drama of the routine and how Alexandra expressed the music, saying it took her breath away. Shirley praised the amount of content and said she loved it, whilst Bruno said Alexandra blew him away.

The score: 9, 9, 9, 9 – 36 out of 40

 

The leaderboard for the evening was:

Alexandra Burke & Gorka Marquez – 36
Debbie McGee & Giovanni Pernice – 34
Aston Merrygold & Janette Manrara – 32
Jonnie Peacock & Oti Mabuse – 29
Davood Ghadami & Nadiya Bychkova – 27
Gemma Atkinson & Aljaž Škorjanec – 26
Mollie King & AJ Pritchard – 25
Joe McFadden & Katya Jones – 22
Susan Calman & Kevin Clifton – 22
Ruth Langsford & Anton Du Beke – 20
Brian Conley & Amy Dowden – 19
Simon Rimmer & Karen Clifton – 19
Chizzy Akudolu & Pasha Kovalev – 17
Reverend Richard Coles & Dianne Buswell – 17
Charlotte Hawkins & Brendan Cole – 12

After the first two lives show, the leaderboard is:

Debbie McGee & Giovanni Pernice – 64
Aston Merrygold & Janette Manrara – 63
Alexandra Burke & Gorka Marquez – 60
Davood Ghadami & Nadiya Bychkova – 54
Joe McFadden & Katya Jones – 51
Jonnie Peacock & Oti Mabuse – 49
Mollie King & AJ Pritchard – 48
Gemma Atkinson & Aljaž Škorjanec – 46
Susan Calman & Kevin Clifton – 42
Chizzy Akudolu & Pasha Kovalev – 37
Simon Rimmer & Karen Clifton – 36
Ruth Langsford & Anton Du Beke – 36
Brian Conley & Amy Dowden – 35
Charlotte Hawkins & Brendan Cole – 35
Reverend Richard Coles & Dianne Buswell – 34

Strictly Come Dancing 2017 waves goodbye to the first couple this series at 7.15pm tomorrow night on BBC One. See the couples in rehearsals from earlier today in our gallery below:

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