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Strictly Come Dancing 2017 week 8 recap

The 9 couples danced again to keep their place in the competition.

Gemma Atkinson and Aljaz Skorjanec
Credit: BBC

Strictly Come Dancing 2017 experienced its first shock departure of the series last week.

Former JLS star Aston Merrygold and his partner Janette Manrara found themselves in the bottom two opposite Mollie King and AJ Pritchard. Shockingly the judges chose to send home Aston and Janette, leaving plenty of fans outraged.

Tonight the remaining couples took to the ballroom to dance again in the hope of avoiding the dreaded dance-off tomorrow night.

Find out how all the couples got on by reading on…

Susan Calman & Kevin Clifton

Susan Calman & Kevin Clifton

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

After her comeback with the Jive last week, this week Susan and Kevin took on the Tango, dancing to Firework by Katy Perry. But would their performance be a damp squib? In training Susan spoke about how much she enjoyed last week’s routine and how she was dealing with the intense nature of the Tango.

The dance: Susan gave excellent Tango face and showed great control throughout the dance. I was also particularly impressed with her staccato moves and sharp head turns. However her posture collapsed a little in the middle of the dance and I would have liked to see pointed toes in the kicks. That said, she did a great job at showing a different side of her personality – it was clear she was very emotionally invested in the routine – and I think she should make it to Blackpool.

The comments: Shirley praised Susan’s footwork and said she’d made huge strides, whilst Bruno loved her timing and the way she channelled the dramatic persona of the dance. Craig said there needed to be more attack and criticised Susan’s posture but loved the serious side and that she gave it all. Darcey liked the drama at the start but wanted Susan to focus on maintaining her frame.

The score: 5, 6, 8, 8 – 27 out of 40

Joe McFadden & Katya Jones

Joe McFadden & Katya Jones

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

Joe continued to show why he’s the dark horse of the competition with his fun and cheeky Charleston last week. But could he continue his hot streak with a romantic Rumba to U2 and Mary J Blige’s One? In training Joe spoke about how pleased he was with last week’s comments, whilst he and Katya worked on the Rumba’s connection and intricate steps.

The dance: Although some of the movements were a bit sharper than I’d have liked and Joe’s hands were slightly throwaway at the start, he did well at conveying the feeling of drama and passion. His hip action also improved as the routine went on and I liked that he tried to show that he’s not just a ‘character’ dancer. Overall not a bad dance by any means but I think it needed more control.

The comments: Bruno said Joe was a ‘smouldering Latin lover with a caring and tender touch’ and liked the balance of presentation and interaction between Joe and Katya, but told him not to break his hands. Craig said it was a bit jolty in places and the footwork needed to be more turned out but liked Joe’s hip action and said he presented Katya beautifully. Darcey thought it was smooth and earthy and that Joe had good balance and lines, whilst Shirley said he did an ‘exquisite’ job of leading the dance.

The score: 7, 8, 9, 9 – 33 out of 40

Ruth Langsford & Anton Du Beke

Ruth Langsford & Anton Du Beke

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

Despite a well-executed comedic Paso Doble last week, Ruth found herself at the bottom of the leaderboard. But could she move up the ranks with her Foxtrot to Mack The Knife by Bobby Darin? In training Ruth spoke about finding the speed of the dance difficult and working on her hand movements.

The dance: I loved the old-school hat and cane dance at the start and thought Ruth and Anton had good co-ordination and character throughout, and this carried over into her Foxtrot proper. Although her posture got lost a little bit in the middle, she had nice rise and fall and I thought her footwork and timing were decent. Not the best dance we’ve seen from her but not a terrible performance either.

The comments: Craig thought the side-by-side lacked style and Ruth was trotting rather than flowing, whilst Darcey thought she was too up and down. Shirley said it wasn’t her favourite and looked more like a Quickstep, whilst Bruno said the fox lost the trot and it turned into a gallop.

The score: 4, 5, 4, 5 – 18 out of 40

Davood Ghadami & Nadiya Bychkova

Davood Ghadami & Nadiya Bychkova

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

After his breakthrough in the American Smooth last week, this week Davood aimed to build on that with a Charleston to The Lambeth Walk by The Pasadena Roof Orchestra. In training Davood spoke about his determination to do well in the lifts and show control throughout the routine.

The dance: Davood had excellent swivel from the start and showed off the free and easy feel of the dance really well. He did really well with the lifts (particularly the final one) and pulled off some difficult moves, as well as having great co-ordination with Nadiya. The only quibble I have is his kicks felt slightly flyaway but overall it was a fun, energetic performance and I think he’s made a huge leap forward again.

The comments: Darcey said Davood was on the way up and praised his swivel, character and control in the lifts. Shirley said he could be a genuine contender and called the routine ‘flawless’. Bruno praised Davood’s versatility and said he got better every week, whilst Craig simply called it ‘ah-may-zing’.

The score: 9, 9, 10, 10 – 38 out of 40

Gemma Atkinson & Aljaž Škorjanec

Gemma Atkinson & Aljaž Škorjanec

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

It was back to ballroom for Gemma this week with a Viennese Waltz to You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me by Dusty Springfield. In training Gemma spoke about being disappointed with her comments for last week’s Salsa and struggling with the turns of the Viennese Waltz, as well as the pressure she was putting on herself to get the routine right.

The dance: Although Gemma’s footwork looked a bit skippy in parts and she was up on her toes a bit, I thought she moved nicely across the floor and the dance flowed really well. She also did a good job of showing off the emotion of the dance and I liked the added flair she put into the ending too. That said, I think she needs to work on the smaller details, such as relaxing her shoulders and extending her moves through her hands. Not her worst dance but not her best either, and I think she could be in trouble.

The comments: Shirley said there was too much rise and fall and wanted Gemma to work on bringing out the emotion of the routine. Bruno agreed, saying Gemma needed to let our her performance, and Craig though it lacked emotion in the body. However, Darcey noticed an improvement in Gemma’s eye level and said ‘not bad’.

The score: 7, 7, 7, 7 — 28 out of 40

Alexandra Burke & Gorka Marquez

Alexandra Burke & Gorka Marquez

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

Alexandra has been one of the Strictly Come Dancing frontrunners for the last few weeks, but so far hasn’t managed to get the top score. Could she and Gorka get a perfect 40 for the first Argentine Tango of the series, danced to Mi Confesion by Gotan Project? In training Alexandra spoke about feeling the pressure to do well in the routine.

The dance: Alexandra certainly showed plenty of drama and passion in the routine, with some stunning leg extensions and excellent lifts. Although her legs did look a little stiff in places, she had nice co-ordination with Gorka and I felt she pulled off the haughty attitude of the dance really well, alongside showing incredible control. It’s another strong routine from her and I think it showed that she’s still one to watch.

The comments: Bruno praised Alexandra’s passion and her sequence of ‘razor-sharp’ ganchos, whilst Craig said it was ‘incredible’ and that Alexandra never ceases to amaze. Darcey loved the sensuality and Alexandra’s lines in the lifts, but wanted her to finish it off in the feet. Shirley praised the connection between Alexandra and Gorka and said the routine was ‘superb’.

The score: 9, 9, 10, 10 – 38 out of 40

Mollie King & AJ Pritchard

Mollie King & AJ Pritchard

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

Last week Mollie found herself in the bottom two yet again, meaning she needed to pull out a stunning Paso Doble to Layla by Derek and the Dominoes if she wanted to stay in Strictly Come Dancing. In training Mollie spoke about being upset about being in the dance-off again and her determination to deliver a strong routine this week.

The dance: Well there were certainly plenty of dramatic moves, but Mollie also showed off some nice shaping and control within the routine. I was impressed by how well she conveyed the personality of the dance and thought she and AJ showed good synchronisation too. It was an improvement on last week and I think she might have done just enough to avoid the bottom two this week.

The comments: Craig said some of the shapes were awkward but liked Mollie’s power and presence, whilst Darcey wanted Mollie to fix the still moments and work on her core strength and balance. Shirley liked the Paso Doble content but said some of the pivots looked jerky and her posture was droopy. Bruno said there was lots of content but Mollie lost the lines and timing.

The score: 5, 6, 6, 5 – 22 out of 40

Jonnie Peacock & Oti Mabuse

Jonnie Peacock & Oti Mabuse

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

Following his slightly lacklustre Salsa last week, Jonnie was hoping to bounce back with his Foxtrot to Someone Like You by Adele. In training Jonnie spoke about improving yet again and going back to ballroom, as well as needing to remember his posture and frame during this week’s routine.

The dance: I loved the romantic feel of the dance and thought Jonnie did a really good job of conveying the emotion of the routine, but it felt like he was rushing the dance in parts and he looked a little hunched over in parts. That said, he moved across the floor nicely and I thought he had some decent footwork in parts too. Sadly though I don’t think this was the dance for him and he might find himself in the bottom two tomorrow.

The comments: Darcey said it felt uncomfortable and that Jonnie’s right shoulder was drifting forward. Shirley said there were parts that had improved and others that needed improving, such as Jonnie’s head position. Bruno thought Jonnie conveyed the emotion well and that he was clearly trying hard to get it right, but Craig called it ‘dull, dull, dull’.

The score: 4, 5, 6, 6 – 21 out of 40

Debbie McGee & Giovanni Pernice

Debbie McGee & Giovanni Pernice

Credit: BBC / Guy Levy

Debbie scored the first 40 of the series last week with her Tango and topped the Strictly Come Dancing leaderboard for the third week in a row. Could she make it a fourth with her and Giovanni’s Salsa to I Can’t Take My Eyes Off You by Boys Town Gang? In training Debbie spoke about her delight at getting the first 40 and having issues with the lifts and speed of the dance due to an injury.

The dance: Dancing a routine set in an opticians (as you do), Debbie set the Strictly dancefloor on fire with her saucy Salsa. She had a slight wobble in her spin early on but pulled off some impressive – and slightly terrifying-looking – lifts, and showed great control and hip action. Another excellent routine and she continues to show that she’s having a great time out there.

The comments: Shirley said it was on its way to being a championship salsa and commended Debbie for going for the lifts, but there were a couple of mistakes. Bruno thought Debbie was going first class to Blackpool and captured the essence of Salsa. Craig called it ‘ridiculous’ and Darcey praised her for making the lifts and transitions look effortless.

The score: 9, 9, 8, 9 – 35 out of 40

The leaderboard for the evening was:

Davood Ghadami & Nadiya Bychkova – 38
Alexandra Burke & Gorka Marquez – 38
Debbie McGee & Giovanni Pernice – 35
Joe McFadden & Katya Jones – 33
Gemma Atkinson & Aljaž Škorjanec – 28
Susan Calman & Kevin Clifton – 27
Mollie King & AJ Pritchard – 22
Jonnie Peacock & Oti Mabuse – 21
Ruth Langsford & Anton Du Beke – 18

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:

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