Strictly Come Dancing continued tonight as the remaining 13 couples took to the ballroom to try and secure their place in the competition.
Last weekend we had to say goodbye to Reverend Richard Coles and his partner Dianne Buswell after they failed to impress the public at home or the judges. Movie Week brought plenty of spectacle and it was great to see the couples embracing the theme.
Former JLS star Aston Merrygold and his partner Janette Manrara topped the leaderboard with their Trolls themed Cha Cha. Alexandra Burke and her partner Gorka Marquez were nipping at their heels after impressing with their American Smooth.
How did everyone get on tonight? Did Brendan Cole manage to go one week without biting one of the judges’ heads off? Read our recap to find out!
Debbie McGee & Giovanni Pernice
Debbie’s strong start to the series continued with her fast and fun Quickstep last week, despite a slip down the leaderboard. This week she and partner Giovanni performed a Cha-Cha to Cher’s The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss).
The dance: Debbie continues to show her versatility as a dancer. Although it needed a little more hip movement for me, she had great straight legs and excellent footwork throughout the dance, and I liked that she showed off her cheeky side at the start of the routine. She also pulled off an impressive standing splits move that could have put some of the pro dancers to shame!
The comments: Shirley said it was too balletic and wanted an earthier approach, but praised Debbie’s attempt. Bruno said Debbie ‘always delivers’ and praised her timing and clipped movement. Craig said it was stiff and wanted to see more of Debbie’s wild side. Darcey liked her focus yet encouraged her not to overthink and relax a bit more.
The score: 6, 6, 7, 8 – 27 out of 40
Brian Conley & Amy Dowden
Brian gave us his best dance yet last week, but faced a new challenge in the form of the Paso Doble, dancing to The Darkness’ I Believe In A Thing Called Love. In training, Brian and Amy showed off some of his routine to Brian’s family.
The dance: Starting the routine stomping about on an amplifier, Brian delivered a surprisingly decent Paso. Although he could have toned down the facial expressions and it was a bit flat-footed in parts, he made some good attempts at shaping and it was clear he was enjoying himself immensely out there. Not the most accomplished Paso I’ve ever seen but by no means the worst either.
The comments: Bruno called it a ‘punk-o doble’ and liked Brian’s swagger, but said his shaping needed more extensions. Craig said it was dancing by numbers and too placed, but praised Brian for trying. Darcey liked the opening of the routine and the tension in Brian’s arms, whilst Shirley praised his shaping and Paso moves.
The score: 4, 6, 6, 5 – 21 out of 40
Mollie King & AJ Pritchard
Mollie continued to show why she’s a serious contender for the trophy with her dreamy American Smooth in Movie Week. Tonight she and AJ danced a saucy Salsa to Subeme La Radio by Enrique Iglesias. In training, Mollie’s Saturdays band-mate (and former Strictly finalist) Frankie Bridge surprised her and gave her some advice on loosening up in her routine.
The dance: Frankie’s pep talk clearly worked as Mollie pulled off the choreography with aplomb. I though her armwork was particularly good and she had nice co-ordination with AJ in the side-by-side section. However in places her hands did feel a bit throwaway and I felt it needed more hip movement as it was still a bit stiff in places. I think she’s definitely more comfortable in ballroom but if she lets herself go more she could be great at Latin too.
The comments: Craig said the footwork was sloppy and Mollie needed more hip rotation, but liked the lifts. Darcey liked Mollie and AJ’s chemistry but wanted her to work on her balance. Shirley said it was a challenging and well-executed routine but there wasn’t enough foot pressure and criticised Mollie’s pigeon toes. Bruno said it had more lifts than Cirque du Soleil but wanted Mollie to keep the flow throughout the dance.
The score: 6, 7, 7, 7 – 27 out of 40
Davood Ghadami & Nadiya Bychkova
Last week Davood disappointed with his Samba, but had a chance to redeem himself by showing his romantic side in his and Nadiya’s Viennese Waltz to Jessie Ware’s Say You Love Me. In training Davood struggled with learning the dance due to motion sickness from the spins, but was hopeful he could pull it off on the night.
The dance: Davood definitely showed off his acting skills in the emotional opening part of the routine, and had a nice frame throughout the parts in hold. Although his footwork wasn’t perfect and his open mouth was distracting to say the least, he definitely showed improvement from last week and I think this might be a breakthrough week for him. It also really highlighted the chemistry between him and Nadiya which I think is one of his biggest strengths.
The comments: Darcey loved Davood’s intensity and focus and praised his control. Shirley singled out his ‘outstanding’ execution of the change step, whilst Bruno liked the connection between Davood and Nadiya and how he led her throughout the dance. However, Craig criticised the length of time out of hold and the floor spin but said it was going well until that point.
The score: 6, 7, 8, 8 – 29 out of 40
Charlotte Hawkins & Brendan Cole
After a mild improvement in last week’s Top Gun-themed Tango, this week Charlotte spoken about her need to build on that again. In training for her Jive to Bruno Mars’ Marry You, Charlotte’s husband surprised her and watched her and Brendan practise.
The dance: Charlotte surprised with a brave solo section and she travelled nicely across the floor. Her kicks and flicks were small but sharp, if a little heavy in parts, and she looked visibly more relaxed than she has in the last two weeks. It’s lovely to see her getting her confidence back and I’m hoping she can use this as a springboard to get better again next week.
The comments: Shirley criticised the lack of content but praised Charlotte’s action and said she had improved a little. Bruno liked that she looked like she was having fun and showing some personality, but said her footwork was fuzzy and her hands were too loose. Craig said it was a bit laboured and wanted Charlotte to use her shoulders less, but Darcey praised her kick ball changes.
The score: 4, 5, 5, 5 – 19 out of 40
Joe McFadden & Katya Jones
After a wobble in his Tango, Joe bounced back last week with his romantic Viennese Waltz. This week, he and Katya took on the Cha-Cha to You Keep Me Hanging On by Human Nature. This week it was Joe’s birthday so in training Katya surprised him with cake, before using weights to help with isolating his upper and lower body.
The dance: It was a bit skippy to start with, but Joe definitely improved as the dance went on. Although it needed a bit more hip movement, he had decent leg action and managed to pull off the fast-paced, content-packed routine as well as the cheeky tone of the dance. I think he’s definitely more a ballroom boy than Latin but it’s not the worst cha-cha I’ve seen from a male celebrity by any means.
The comments: Bruno called it frantic and said Joe’s legs were too wide, whilst Craig said it looked awkward. Darcey said there was a switch off at moments but praised Joe’s attitude and performance when dancing on his own, as well as his connection with Katya. Shirley liked Joe’s swivelling action but wanted him to concentrate more on the basics.
The score: 5, 7, 6, 6 – 24 out of 40
Ruth Langsford & Anton Du Beke
After being bottom of the leaderboard last week, this week Ruth got a chance to improve with her Tango to Allegretto by Bond. In training, Anton surprised Ruth on the set of Loose Women and they performed for her co-hosts.
The dance: Although you could drive a bus through her gapping with Anton and her head movements were too throwaway for me, Ruth definitely showed an improvement this week. She had some nice footwork in places and I felt she pulled off the attitude of the dance well, with plenty of drama in the opening. It was her best dance yet and I think she’s made a huge leap forward – here’s hoping she can do more of the same next week.
The comments: Craig said Ruth was making progress, whilst Darcey praised her determination but wanted her to fix her frame. Shirley said it was 100% better than last week, whilst Bruno pointed out the lack of mistakes.
The score: 6, 6, 6, 6 – 24 out of 40
Aston Merrygold & Janette Manrara
Last week Aston topped the leaderboard with his Cha-Cha, scoring three 9s in the process – could he and Janette make it two in a row with their Quickstep to Mr Blue Sky by ELO? In training Aston had difficulty with his frame, so he and Janette put in extra training time to help him improve.
The dance: Although it took a little while to get going, Aston delivered another stellar performance. The dance was light, bright and romantic, with lovely movement across the floor, excellent timing and a good frame from Aston. I loved the American Smooth touches too with the jumps and skips towards the end. He did look like he was concentrating a bit too hard throughout, but once again he’s shown why he’s the one to catch at the top of the leaderboard.
The comments: Darcey criticised Aston’s pigeon toes and flexed feet and wanted him to extend more, but praised the speed of the routine and the amount of content. Shirley agreed that Aston’s feet were flat in places but liked his connection with Janette through the frame. Bruno liked the sway and said he was impressed, whilst Craig loved Aston’s energy and agility.
The score: 7, 8, 8, 9 – 32 out of 40
Simon Rimmer & Karen Clifton
Simon survived the dreaded dance-off last week so wanted to have fun with his latest routine. This week he and Karen performed a Samba to Barry Manilow’s classic Copacabana. In training Simon struggled with the sexy side of the dance and with making his steps too big, so Karen set up a forfeit system to help him improve.
The dance: Surprisingly, Simon showed off a nice bounce action in hold and had good hip movement throughout the routine. There were some moments that went a bit into dad dancing territory and he lost the bounce action in his promenade runs, but overall he definitely brought a sense of fun to the routine and it was an improvement on last week.
The comments: Shirley said Simon made some mistakes but praised the amount of content and his effort, while Bruno said it was more Benidorm than Havana. Craig praised Simon for trying but said he lost balance. Darcey liked Simon’s effort and focus but was a little disappointed with his isolations.
The score: 4, 5, 5, 5 – 19 out of 40
Gemma Atkinson & Aljaž Škorjanec
Gemma has been gaining confidence week on week and shown that she can do a romantic Waltz as well as a cheeky Charleston, which gave her highest score yet. This week she revealed another side of her personality with her and Aljaz’s Paso Doble to Coldplay’s Viva La Vida. In training, Aljaz took Gemma to the Royal Observatory to get her in the mood for their Northern Lights-themed routine.
The dance: Showing off some incredible leg extensions, Gemma delivered a great Paso with plenty of drama and intensity. She had nice shaping, particularly in hold, and great synchronisation with Aljaz too. I think she’s getting stronger every week and showing why she’s one to watch this year – if she can keep up this standard she’s in with a great chance at the trophy.
The comments: Bruno said Gemma shines brighter every week and was growing in performance value and technique, whilst Craig loved Gemma taking ownership in hold. Darcey said she couldn’t take her eyes off her but wanted her to lift her chin more. Shirley said it was powerful and praised Gemma’s skirt work and twist turn, saying she was here for the long haul.
The score: 8, 9, 9, 9 – 35 out of 40
Alexandra Burke & Gorka Marquez
Alexandra continued to impress the judges with her American Smooth in Movie Week, and this week she and Gorka performed a Jive to Tina Turner’s Proud Mary. In training Alexandra spoke about getting good comments from the judges but struggled with her stamina and footwork in the routine.
The dance: It was a fast and frantic routine but Alexandra delivered it brilliantly. She had great kicks and flicks and plenty of sass, and kept her energy up throughout as well as pulling off some seriously impressive tricks including being leapfrogged by Gorka. I was impressed by her confidence in her solo section too. She’s consistently bringing an extra level of performance week after week and is showing that she’s a force to be reckoned with in this competition.
The comments: Craig said it was incredible, whilst Darcey praised Alexandra’s energy and all-round performance. Shirley said she was proud and Alexandra was amazing, particularly her balance, and Bruno said Alexandra captured the quality of Tina Turner.
The score: 9, 10, 10, 10 – 39 out of 40
Jonnie Peacock & Oti Mabuse
Jonnie wowed the audience last week with his Indiana Jones-inspired Paso Doble but got mixed comments from the judges. This week he and Oti took on the American Smooth, dancing to Michael Buble’s version of Cry Me A River. In training Jonnie talked about his struggles with playing a character in the dances.
The dance: Opening with an incredible lift, Jonnie delivered plenty of swagger in his Viennese Waltz-based American Smooth. His posture wobbled a little in places, but the footwork was good and he delivered on the drama and passion. Jonnie is another contestant who showed a marked improvement this week and again showing why he could go all the way to the final.
The comments: Darcey enjoyed the daring lifts and praised Jonnie’s timings, but wanted him to hold his top line. Shirley liked Jonnie’s attempt at the fleckle and natural turns, as well as his double spin. Bruno said Jonnie was in command and praised his timing. However, Craig thought Jonnie lost the character in hold and suggested acting lessons – next week’s VT maybe?
The score: 7, 8, 8, 8 – 31 out of 40
Susan Calman & Kevin Clifton
After last week’s show-stopping Wonder Woman-themed Samba, this week Susan and Kevin took on a fast and furious Quickstep to her wedding song, Morecambe & Wise’s Bring Me Sunshine. In training Susan and Kevin took the sleeper train from Scotland to London and practised their routine on board.
The dance: Susan definitely brought the sunshine to the Strictly dancefloor. She had great synchronisation with Kevin at the start of the routine, lovely swing and sway and a smile on her face throughout. Although her kicks were a little sloppy in parts and her leaps could have been lighter when landing, her sheer enthusiasm is infectious and the routine was a perfect end to the show. Loved the inclusion of the ‘skip-dance’ too.
The comments: Shirley liked the nostalgia and praised Susan’s lightness on her feet, whilst Bruno said she was a surprise and delivered a full-on quickstep. Craig said Susan flew around the floor and it was a personal best, and Darcey called it bright and breezy but said Susan needed to hang on to her frame.
The score: 7, 7, 8, 8 – 30 out of 40
The leaderboard for the evening was:
Alexandra Burke & Gorka Marquez – 39
Gemma Atkinson & Aljaž Škorjanec – 35
Aston Merrygold & Janette Manrara – 32
Jonnie Peacock & Oti Mabuse – 31
Susan Calman & Kevin Clifton – 30
Davood Ghadami & Nadiya Bychkova – 29
Debbie McGee & Giovanni Pernice – 27
Mollie King & AJ Pritchard – 27
Joe McFadden & Katya Jones – 24
Ruth Langsford & Anton Du Beke – 24
Brian Conley & Amy Dowden – 21
Charlotte Hawkins & Brendan Cole – 19
Simon Rimmer & Karen Clifton – 19
Strictly Come Dancing 2017 says goodbye to another couple during the results show tomorrow at 7.15pm on BBC One. Check out all the couples in rehearsals earlier today in our gallery below: