Strictly Come Dancing said goodbye to Holby City actress Chizzy Akudolu and her partner Pasha Kovalev last weekend.
The result was a bit of a shock as lots of viewers expected Brian Conley to go but sadly the judges chose to send Chizzy home instead. I’m sure it won’t be the last shock exit of the series!
Tonight the 14 remaining couples took to the ballroom to fight for their place in the competition. Debbie McGee and her partner Giovanni Pernice have had a very strong start and after topping the leaderboard for the first two weeks, all eyes were on them tonight.
Shirley Ballas, Darcey Bussell, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel-Horwood were on hand to offer their usual mix of helpful (and sometimes blunt) critique.
Keep reading to find out how all of the couples got on…
Simon Rimmer & Karen Clifton
Simon showed an improvement in his Waltz last week but was disappointed to have made a mistake in the routine. This weekend Simon and his partner Karen took on the roles of Buzz Lightyear and Jessie to dance the Quickstep to You’ve Got A Friend In Me from Toy Story.
The dance: It was more slow-step than Quickstep at the start, but Simon definitely picked up the pace as the dance went on and I liked the addition of the jazzy side-by-side section. Plus it was clear that he was having a whale of a time, especially in the flying finale! Not the best Quickstep I’ve ever seen but by no means the worst either.
The comments: Shirley said Simon had one of the best frames in the competition and praised his basic Quickstep moves and lightness on his feet. Bruno said Simon ran out of rocket fuel at times and he wobbled rather than glided. Craig disagreed with Shirley – he thought it was lumpy and lacked swing and sway. Darcey criticised the scattered chasis but praised Simon’s work ethic.
The score: 3, 5, 6, 5 – 19 out of 40
Ruth Langsford & Anton Du Beke
Ruth showed a marked improvement in her Charleston last week, and tonight she and Anton took on the first Rumba of the series to Diamonds Are Forever. This week Ruth’s husband Eamonn Holmes surprised her in rehearsals.
The dance: It was clear that Ruth was trying her best but I’m not sure Rumba is her dance. Although there were some flashy moments of drama, she lacked hip movement, the dance felt a bit too ‘walky’ in a lot of places and her hand and arm movements in particular looked very jerky. Sadly I fear she could be in trouble this week.
The comments: Bruno said Ruth’s Rumba could start an Ice Age and her hips need defrosting. Craig said the rumba walks were stilted and it needed more pressure through the floor, and wanted Ruth to improve her acting. Darcey told her to make more eye contact with Anton, whilst Shirley criticised Ruth’s bent legs but praised her for trying.
The score: 3, 5, 3, 4 – 15 out of 40
Mollie King & AJ Pritchard
Last week Mollie was thrilled with her performance in her Tango. This week she and AJ were dancing the American Smooth to Climb Every Mountain from The Sound Of Music, so AJ took her to train on a mountain top.
The dance: Mollie is definitely a ballroom girl. Her Viennese Waltz-based American Smooth was dreamy and romantic, with soaring lifts straight from a showdance, whilst she had lovely posture throughout and gorgeous footwork. It’s clear she’s growing in confidence every week and I think this was her best dance yet.
The comments: Craig absolutely loved the lifts and thought the routine was fantastic but said the landings needed to be smoother. Darcey praised Mollie’s control and potential but wanted her to work on her core strength. Shirley loved Mollie’s outside spin and said she made her night. Bruno said it was as uplifting and crisp as fresh mountain air, and said she and AJ were becoming a unit.
The score: 7, 7, 8, 8 – 30 out of 40
Reverend Richard Coles & Dianne Buswell
Although bottom of the leaderboard last week, Richard was happy to have improved his score. This week Richard wanted to find his inner macho man for his Paso Doble to Flash from the movie Flash Gordon.
The dance: Oh Richard. Unfortunately his Paso was an absolute mess – it lacked shaping, the arms were very throwaway and it was very stompy. Getting slightly stuck in his cape didn’t help either. It was all a bit John Sergeant-esque for me, but it’s clear that he’s trying his very best and is enjoying every moment on the dance floor.
The comments: Darcey said it was strangely powerful and praised the detail, but criticised his splayed fingers and said the shaping was spiky. Shirley praised his commitment and attempts at an oval shape. Craig couldn’t see any shaping in the body and called Richard’s hand shaping ‘peculiar’.
The score: 2, 4, 4, 4 – 14 out of 40
Debbie McGee & Giovanni Pernice
Last week Debbie topped the leaderboard, and this week she and Giovanni were aiming for two in a row. In training Debbie struggled with the speed of their Quickstep to Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off from Shall We Dance.
The dance: Is there anything Debbie can’t do? Her Quickstep was light, bright and full of fun. I loved the Charleston touches and also thought she and Giovanni had great synchronisation, as well as showing off her sparkling personality and humour in her solo section. She’s breaking away from the pack and I’m not quite sure if anyone can catch her.
The comments: Shirley praised Debbie’s scatter chassis but wanted her frame to be more stable. Bruno loved her Ginger Rogers-esque mannerisms. Craig criticised her for being out of hold too long, but Darcey said that Debbie looked effortless and was a constant surprise.
The score: 6, 8, 7, 8 – 29 out of 40
Brian Conley & Amy Dowden
After surviving the dance-off last week, Brian spoke of his determination not to end up there again. This week he and partner Amy danced the American Smooth to If I Only Had A Brain from The Wizard Of Oz.
The dance: Brian showed a surprising lightness on his feet throughout the dance and also got to show off his sense of humour in his character of the Scarecrow. There was a bit of gapping in hold but overall this was definitely an improvement on his performance last week. The dance suited him extremely well and I think he might have done enough to dodge the dance-off this time.
The comments: Bruno liked Brian’s acting but said it got lost when he was in hold. Craig wanted more drive on Brian’s heel leads but said it was much better than last week. Darcey liked his musicality and timing but wanted him to do something more challenging, whilst Shirley liked the footwork and character.
The score: 5, 5, 6, 6 – 22 out of 40
Gemma Atkinson & Aljaž Škorjanec
Gemma made a massive leap with her Waltz last week. This week she and Aljaz are dancing the Charleston to The Bare Necessities from The Jungle Book, so Aljaz took her to the zoo to get into character and do some training.
The dance: Dressed as a panther, Gemma definitely captured the sense of fun needed for the Charleston and put a great deal of humour into it. However, despite the flashy tricks, for me there was a lack of swivel and her kicks needed to be sharper. Although it wasn’t the most technically proficient Charleston, it’s clear to see that she’s having an absolute ball on the dance floor and it was definitely entertaining to watch.
The comments: Craig was disappointed by the lack of basic Charleston but thought it was a lot of fun. Darcey wanted her to keep the character going throughout the dance. Shirley praised Aljaz’s choreography and Gemma’s energy, whilst Bruno liked the jazzy elements.
The score: 7, 8, 8, 8 – 31 out of 40
Charlotte Hawkins & Brendan Cole
Last week Charlotte was upset that her mistake in her Cha-Cha left her joint bottom of the leaderboard. This week, she hoped to improve with her Tango to Danger Zone from Top Gun. In training, Brendan took Charlotte for a flying lesson.
The dance: Although Charlotte has definitely been working on her technique, there were still a lot of little niggles. In particular I would have liked sharper head movements and there were some skippy patches, whilst some parts of the dance felt a bit placed and it lacked drama. I think she feels much safer in Brendan’s arms and if she can get her confidence back she should do particularly well in the ballroom dances.
The comments: Darcey praised Charlotte’s commitment and lines but said her transitions were a bit clumsy. Shirley criticised the rise and fall, whilst Bruno thought there were still too many mistakes. However, Craig said Charlotte was definitely going in the right direction.
The score: 4, 5, 4, 4 – 17 out of 40
Jonnie Peacock & Oti Mabuse
After wowing with his Jive last week, this week Jonnie and Oti took on his ‘nightmare dance’ – the Paso Doble to The Raiders’ March from the Indiana Jones series. In training, Oti took Jonnie to the Natural History Museum in London to meet adventurer Ray Mears.
The dance: Swinging onto the floor on a rope, Jonnie definitely took the lead in his Paso. He had great shaping, particularly in hold, and I liked the little footwork flourishes. There were some stompy moments but overall it was packed with drama and showed how much he’s improving from week to week. If he can keep this up I reckon he’s definitely on track to reach the final.
The comments: Shirley praised Oti’s choreography but wanted Jonnie to work on his hip line. Craig said he was a bit square at times but otherwise did brilliantly. Darcey wanted Jonnie to shape his upper body and to keep character throughout but liked his commitment.
The score: 6, 6, 7, 7 – 26 out of 40
Susan Calman & Kevin Clifton
After a slightly underwhelming Charleston last week, this week Susan danced the first Samba of the series. Would her routine to Wonder Woman wow the judges and the audience?
The dance: Susan continues to be fully embracing the Strictly experience and it shone through in her routine. There wasn’t quite enough double bounce action, but she had great basic Samba moves and there was plenty of content. I liked the little touches of humour such as Susan spinning Kevin on the floor as well. Overall she’s made progress from last week and I hope she can continue to build on that.
The comments: Bruno said this was definitely Susan’s dance, while Craig said the routine was a lot of fun but Susan’s bounce was missing. Darcey liked Susan’s performance and isolations, whilst Shirley loved her timing and commitment.
The score: 4, 5, 5, 6 – 20 out of 40
Joe McFadden & Katya Jones
After the slight disappointment of his Tango last week, this week Joe and Katya took on the Viennese Waltz to Somewhere My Love from Doctor Zhivago. In training, Katya took Joe to practise his spins at a ski centre.
The dance: Although Joe’s posture was a little stooped at first, once the dance got going he showed off some great rotations and really captured the romantic feel of the Viennese Waltz. I loved the flourishes of the final section of the stage as well and he acted the ending beautifully. There are still some issues to iron out but he’s definitely back to his best and showing he’s got potential.
The comments: Darcey liked the tradition, travel and quality, whilst Shirley praised Joe’s side swing. Bruno, meanwhile, was swept away by a romantic blizzard and called it lovely.
The score: 8, 8, 8, 8 – 32 out of 40
Aston Merrygold & Janette Manrara
Despite scoring a 9 for his Salsa last week, Aston was disappointed by his mistake in one of the lifts. This week, he and Janette danced the Cha-Cha to Can’t Stop The Feeling from the film Trolls.
The dance: Aston showed plenty of flair and flourish in his Cha-Cha. He had great hip movement, travelled well across the floor and I loved the character he put into the routine as well. Although I would have liked a little more synchronisation in the side-by-side sections, he brought a lot of fun to the dance floor and is definitely showing he can do Latin as well as ballroom.
The comments: Darcey said Aston’s movements were clean and praised his turns and leg action, saying she didn’t want the dance to stop. Shirley praised Aston for working on his feet and his execution of the pot-stirrer move. Bruno praised the sharpness and Aston’s hip action without losing the style.
The score: 8, 9, 9, 9 – 35 out of 40
Alexandra Burke & Gorka Marquez
After her show-stopping Paso Doble last week, this week Alexandra took on the American Smooth to Wouldn’t It Be Lovely from My Fair Lady. Alexandra was struggling to get into character, so in training she and Gorka went to etiquette lessons.
The dance: Another lovely routine from Alexandra. She moved across the floor really well and had lovely rise and fall, and I loved the little skips and flourishes. It had a beautiful romantic feel to it and the chemistry between her and Gorka on the dance floor is magical. She delivered another solid performance and showed again why she’s one to watch in the competition.
The comments: Shirley praised Alexandra’s rolling feet but wanted her to make more use of the space on the dance floor. Bruno liked her acting and artistic sensibility. Craig wanted Alexandra to work on her free arm but thought she danced the routine well, and Darcey praised her versatility and commitment.
The score: 8, 8, 8, 9 – 33 out of 40
Davood Ghadami & Nadiya Bychkova
Last week Davood received mixed comments for his Quickstep but wanted to improve on his score. This week, Davood and Nadiya danced the Samba to Stayin’ Alive from Saturday Night Fever and, in training, it’s safe to say he definitely embraced his John Travolta character.
The dance: With a dramatic opening at the top of the stairs, Davood definitely put plenty of flair into his routine. However, he didn’t quite have the bounce action in his Samba walks and consequently it felt a bit flat in places. That said, it was fast, frenetic and full of fun, and provided a brilliant ending to the show.
The comments: Bruno liked the Saturday Night Fever touches but said it was a bit rough around the edges. Craig criticised Davood’s hands in the promenade runs and wanted more Samba hip action. Darcey liked Davood’s enthusiasm but wanted more control. Shirley thought it was better than last week but wanted him to work on his posture.
The score: 4, 7, 7, 7 – 25 out of 40
The leaderboard for the evening was:
Aston Merrygold & Janette Manrara – 35
Alexandra Burke & Gorka Marquez – 33
Joe McFadden & Katya Jones – 32
Gemma Atkinson & Aljaž Škorjanec – 31
Mollie King & AJ Pritchard – 30
Debbie McGee & Giovanni Pernice – 29
Jonnie Peacock & Oti Mabuse – 26
Davood Ghadami & Nadiya Bychkova – 25
Brian Conley & Amy Dowden – 22
Susan Calman & Kevin Clifton – 20
Simon Rimmer & Karen Clifton – 19
Charlotte Hawkins & Brendan Cole – 17
Ruth Langsford & Anton Du Beke – 15
Reverend Richard Coles & Dianne Buswell – 14
Strictly Come Dancing 2017 waves goodbye to another couple this series at 7.15pm tomorrow night on BBC One. See the couples in rehearsals from earlier today in our gallery below: