Strictly Come Dancing returned to our screens last week with this year’s 15 celebrities and their professional partners taking to the dance floor for the first time.
There were plenty of surprises in store as well as some fantastic performances and a lot of potential on show. But with completely new dance styles to contend with and only a week to learn the routine, the leaderboard could all change by the end of the evening.
Presenters Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman guided proceedings and gave the contestants moral support, whilst judges Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli, Motsi Mabuse and head judge Shirley Ballas shared their thoughts on frames and footwork.
Sunday night’s result show will see the first couple leave this year’s competition – so who cemented their place on the show and who’s at risk of going home? Read on to find out more…
Saffron Barker and AJ Pritchard
After a strong start with their Tango, this week Saffron and AJ switched styles completely, dancing a Cha Cha to One Touch by Jess Glynne and Jax Jones. In training Saffron took AJ to her family home for a Sunday roast where he showed them some moves, before getting into training. Saffron found the steps and speed of the routine a challenge but was determined to work hard on the dance – could she pull it off on the night?
The dance: The routine was packed full of content and I thought Saffron coped well with the pace of the dance. The start was surprisingly passionate for a Cha Cha and she definitely brought plenty of sass to the dance floor. Although her arms were good throughout and her hip action improved as she went on, for me there was something about her legs that looked a little bit too loose and flexed and consequently the dance was a bit skippy. Not as strong as last week but still a decent performance and she should be safely through.
The comments: Shirley said Saffron is a ‘very inspiring young lady’ and praised her straight legs, but wanted her to work on her musicality and fundamentals. Bruno thought they were like FedEx – ‘you deliver’ – and had a crisp finish and wonderful interplay, but called out their loss of timing. Craig called it ‘stiff of hip’ and ‘wooden’, but said Saffron had ‘the most amazing spins’. Motsi praised Saffron for keeping going and staying positive despite the mistake, as well as her energy.
The scores: 5, 5, 6, 7 – 23 out of 40
Anneka Rice and Kevin Clifton
This week Anneka and Kevin performed a Waltz to Whitney Houston’s classic Run To You. In training Anneka spoke about how much she enjoyed performing on last week’s show, as well as how much she liked training for the Waltz and getting into the glamour of Strictly. Could they beat their score of 14 last week?
The dance: Anneka is definitely a Ballroom girl. This was a floaty, romantic, elegant Waltz, with some lovely movement across the floor and nice arms and hands throughout. She did have a couple of wobbles and there were some issues with speed and timing, but it’s definitely an improvement from last week and I actually found myself getting a bit emotional at the end!
The comments: Bruno said Anneka should be proud of herself and had clearly worked hard on her footwork, but wanted her to relax and keep her shoulders down. Craig thought it lacked rise and fall and flow and wanted more expressive arms, but it was a big improvement. Motsi said it was ‘simple, but simply beautiful’, whilst Shirley said Anneka needed to improve her footwork and frame but the difference from last week was ‘miraculous’.
The scores: 4, 5, 5, 5 – 19 out of 40
Dev Griffin and Dianne Buswell
Dev was one of my biggest surprises last week with his Foxtrot, which scored 30 points – could he and Dianne make it two out of two with their Jive to Olly Murs’ Dance With Me Tonight? In training Dev spoke about his excitement to return to the dance floor and not wanting to get complacent, as well as the hard work they were putting into their full-on routine.
The dance: I thought Dev started this dance really well, particularly in his solo section – it had plenty of bounce and his kicks and flicks looked sharp. However, as the routine went on they became a little more throwaway and I thought it looked a bit flat-footed in places. That said, once again he brought plenty of personality to the performance, as well as coping well with the fast pace, and I loved the storytelling too.
The comments: Craig criticised Dev’s turned-in toes and said it was slightly flat-footed, but loved the energy and personality he brought to the routine. Motsi thought Dev’s musicality was amazing and it was fun to watch. Shirley said consistency was going to be the key for Dev, but that he was light on his feet and that it was very entertaining. Bruno called it a ‘cool cat jive’ and loved the swagger and style, but wanted his kicks and flicks to be sharper.
The scores: 6, 7, 7, 7 – 27 out of 40
Viscountess Emma Weymouth and Aljaz Skornajec
This week Emma and Aljaz performed a Tango to Sucker by the Jonas Brothers. In training Emma spoke about embracing the opportunity to show some fire and bring some strength to Strictly, as well as how much she was enjoying the Ballroom routine despite the hard work involved. Could they do better than last week’s score of 19?
The dance: Emma and Aljaz’s futuristic Tango had plenty of drama and great control, and Emma definitely gave good Tango face throughout! I thought she also acted the dance really well and had nice movement across the floor, as well as some decent footwork. There was a little bit of gapping in hold and she ran out of steam a bit towards the end, but it was a solid performance and should see her through to next week.
The comments: Motsi loved Emma’s attitude, attack and intensity at the start but wanted her to keep it up until the last beat. Shirley said Emma’s walls were outstanding and her frame was beautiful, but wanted her to work on her stamina. Bruno thought it was going to be a blockbuster but then Emma ran out of juice and wanted her to work on not losing the character. Craig said it lacked attack and the footwork was messy.
The scores: 4, 6, 6, 6 – 22 out of 40
Chris Ramsay and Karen Hauer
Chris struggled with his Cha Cha last week, but this week had a chance to redeem himself with his and Karen’s Charleston to Out Of Our Heads by Take That. In training Karen went to meet Chris’ family and show them a bit of their routine, whilst Chris also spoke about feeling positive about the routine and enjoying his experience on Strictly.
The dance: What an improvement from Chris! His lively Charleston had tons of bounce and energy and I thought his synchronisation with Karen was great. The tricks were impressive and he had good swivel too. I would have liked him to act it a little better, but overall it was a very entertaining performance and showed he’s got great potential.
The comments: Shirley said Chris has gone from ordinary to extraordinary and clearly enjoyed the routine, despite going a little fast on the music sometimes. Bruno thought Chris had reset the clock and liked the lindy hop elements, and said the routine was entertaining. Craig wanted Chris to exaggerate the moves more but the routine had ‘given [him] some hope’. Motsi said Chris’ body was back and praised the personality he brought to the routine.
The scores: 5, 7, 7, 7 – 26 out of 40
Emma Barton and Anton du Beke
This week Emma and Anton performed a Foxtrot to Ella Fitzgerald’s version of Sunshine Of Your Love. In training Emma spoke about struggling with the choreography and had an emotional week trying to cope with the pressure. Could she pull it out of the bag and deliver a strong performance?
The dance: If Emma was nervous, then it didn’t show. She had good control in the spins, a decent frame and nice movement across the floor. As the dance went on I thought she relaxed into it more and she seemed to grow in confidence. There were a few issues – her footwork was a bit of a mixed bag and there was a slight wobble in her top line – but otherwise I thought it was a decent performance, particularly the surprisingly dramatic finish.
The comments: Bruno said Emma had the right feel and potential for ballroom, but wanted her to maintain continuous movement throughout as it became slightly skippy. Craig wanted Emma to improve her top line and head positions, but said she has real dance talent. Motsi loved Emma’s quality and wanted more of it, whilst Shirley said Emma had ‘flashes of brilliance’ particularly in the heel turns but needed to work on her timing.
The scores: 6, 6, 6, 6 – 24 out of 40
James Cracknell and Luba Mushtuk
James and Luba found themselves bottom of the leaderboard last week, but could they turn that around with their Jive to Tutti Frutii by Little Richard? In training James spoke about his experience with a serious brain injury and how he was trying to prove people wrong with his Strictly journey, as well as wanting to have fun with this week’s routine.
The dance: Well it was better than last week, but not much I’m afraid. James’ kicks were very haphazard and his movement across the floor was a bit stompy and flat-footed, meaning it all looked very messy. That said, he looked like he was enjoying this dance a lot more than last week. I’m not sure it’s enough to save him from the dance-off but if he goes tonight it will definitely be on a high.
The comments: Craig thought the pancake-tossing was the best part of the dance and compared James’ kicks and flicks to a bucking bull, but said his personality was ten times better than last week. Motsi liked seeing James have fun but wanted him to work on the dancing. Shirley said James had a great personality and determination but struggled with the content. Bruno thought it was ‘Godzilla on a sugar rush’ but moving in the right direction.
The scores: 3, 3, 3, 4 – 13 out of 40
Catherine Tyldesley and Johannes Radebe
After their Viennese Waltz last week, this week Catherine and Johannes performed a Samba to Let The Groove Get In by Justin Timberlake. In training Catherine spoke about how much she loved the dance last week and working hard on this week’s routine, as well as her worries about the speed of the dance and staying in character. Could she overcome this and deliver a great performance on the Strictly dancefloor?
The dance: Catherine showed us a more unexpected side of her personality, with a powerful and passionate performance. I thought her hip action was good and she moved well across the floor, as well as having plenty of energy. For me it needed a little more drive, but it was clear she was having fun and I hope she sticks around long enough to show us more of what she can do.
The comments: Motsi said it was hot and loved how free Catherine was, but her posture was a little too upright. Shirley agreed – there was a lot of technical content and Catherine missed the side cross on her volta, but definitely on the right track. Bruno said Catherine had the right feeling but lost the rhythm. Craig thought it felt more like a Salsa and lacked bounce.
The scores: 4, 5, 5, 5 – 19 out of 40
Michelle Visage and Giovanni Pernice
Michelle was one of my biggest surprises of last week, wowing with her Cha Cha. This week she and Giovanni danced a Viennese Waltz to Dean Martin’s That’s Amore. In training Michelle spoke about the challenge of progressing each week and the challenge of being a ‘classy lady’ in her routine. RuPaul also came to visit her during her training session and sent a message of support.
The dance: Wow! Michelle impressed once again with her playful interpretation of the dance, borrowing from American Smooth as she and Giovanni danced holding on to an oar. I thought she had beautiful rise and fall, nice sway, decent footwork and a great romantic feel about the whole thing. There was a bit of gapping, but overall it was a brilliant performance. She’s definitely one to keep an eye on.
The comments: Shirley ‘loved it, loved it, loved it’, calling it ‘feminine and classy’, and said Michelle was an independent lady and fitted well with Giovanni, but wanted her to keep working on her technique. Bruno believed every second of it, praising the detail and quality of movement. Craig said it was absolutely incredible, whilst Motsi liked Michelle’s posture and timing, calling her ‘brilliant’.
The scores: 8, 8, 8, 8 – 32 out of 40
David James and Nadiya Bychkova
This week David and Nadiya performed the first Paso Doble of the series, danced to Espana cani. In training David spoke about struggling with the body shaping needed for the dance and needing to deliver more energy, but enjoyed taking on the character of the matador. Could he bring it all together on the night and deliver a knockout performance?
The dance: This was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I thought David’s cape work was OK, but it felt like he was marching around the dancefloor and he needed more shape in his back and arms. There were some good dramatic moments and I thought he led quite well, but it wasn’t quite there for me and I fear that he could be heading for the dance-off on Sunday.
The comments: Bruno said it was more Sunday league in the park than Real Madrid and wanted David to work on the artistry of the dance and get the feel of the character. Craig called it limp, lame and lacklustre. Motsi thought the dancing wasn’t there yet and wanted David to bring out more of his personality. Shirley said David had all the steps but wanted more intention and energy.
The scores: 2, 3, 2, 3 – 10 out of 40
Karim Zeroual and Amy Dowden
After wowing with his Cha-Cha last week and landing second on the leaderboard, could Karim and Amy keep up the momentum? This week they performed a Foxtrot to The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra. In training Karim spoke about finding the Strictly experience ‘surreal’ and said it was ‘the best night of [his] life’. His mum also visited him and Amy and they showed her some of their routine.
The dance: Another standout performance from Karim, with plenty of flair, swagger and his own little touches such as leaping onto the bench towards the end. I thought the dance had beautiful flow and he led Amy round the dancefloor really well, with lovely sway and great footwork. There was a really sweet and romantic quality to the routine too and I found myself welling up by the end of it! He’s definitely established himself as the frontrunner and I can’t wait to see what he does next week.
The comments: Craig said Karim was ‘one to watch’ and called it ‘brilliant’. Motsi thought it was Hollywood quality and pure class. Shirley said Karim is ticking her boxes (oo-er), whilst Bruno thought it was ‘exceptional’ and compared Karim’s physicality to a young Gene Kelly.
The scores: 8, 8, 8, 8 – 32 out of 40
Mike Bushell and Katya Jones
This week Mike and Katya took on an American Smooth to Glenn Campbell’s Rhinestone Cowboy. In training Mike spoke about finding the dance very demanding, particularly in terms of the frame and the speed of the footwork as well as the lifts, and hoping it all goes to plan in the live show.
The dance: I thought Mike’s posture was decent and he had good control in the sections in hold, despite it being a little bit walky in places. He also brought plenty of personality to the sections out of hold, with flair and fun. The lifts, however, were shambolic to say the least – at one point I thought he might actually drop Katya, although he did manage to salvage it. Whilst he seemed like he’s having the time of his life, it wasn’t a standout performance and he could be on his way to the dance-off.
The comments: Motsi said it was two different shows in and out of hold and wanted Mike to find the fun part in both. Shirley said it didn’t resemble American Smooth, with a lack of flow and style, but enjoyed watching it. Bruno said ‘a bit of dancing would do’, whilst Craig called it ‘very, very odd’.
The scores: 3, 4, 3, 4, – 14 out of 40
Alex Scott and Neil Jones
After opening the show – and the series – last week with her Quickstep, this week Alex showed a different side with her and Neil’s Cha-Cha to What I Did For Love by David Guetta featuring Emelie Sande. In training Alex spoke about growing into the dance and wanting to bring it from the start, as well as needing to channel her sassy side. She also spoke to Michelle about channelling her energy from last week’s performance.
The dance: Alex definitely brought the sass and the fire, with plenty of drama and passion in the first section of the dance. I thought she had good legs throughout and she performed the dance really well, as well as having good armography and tons of energy. Personally I’d have liked a little more hip action but it was another decent performance from her and should see her back again next week.
The comments: Shirley said Alex had energy and strong performance, as well as praising her chemistry with Neil, but wanted better foot actions and more rhythm in the middle. Bruno said Alex gave us a party mood, but criticised her foot placement. Craig thought it was stompy and the dance belonged in Saturday Night Fever, but Motsi applauded Alex for taking risks and told her to keep that fire burning.
The scores: 4, 6, 6, 6 – 22 out of 40
Kelvin Fletcher and Oti Mabuse
After topping the leaderboard last week, could Kelvin and Oti do it again with their Waltz to Burt Bacharach’s What The World Needs Now? In training Kelvin took Oti on a tour of his hometown of Oldham and they played bingo with his nan. Kelvin also spoke about his determination to work hard and deliver a great routine.
The dance: I thought Kelvin was brave to take on a solo start this early in the competition and thought he acted it really well . The dance had a beautiful romantic quality with nice rise and fall and lovely footwork too. He was a bit too far over in hold and I’d have liked to see him finishing off his hands, but overall it was another great performance and one that showed why he could well be lifting the glitterball come December.
The comments: Bruno said Kelvin ‘gave us what we wanted’ and said he was light on his feet, but warned him to be careful about his shoulders. Craig wanted Kelvin to shape his hands out of hold and pull his bottom in. Motsi loved the atmosphere and musicality, whilst Shirley criticised his solo footwork and said it definitely wasn’t the best frame of the night but didn’t dispute Kelvin’s talent.
The scores: 7, 7, 7, 7 – 28 out of 40
Will Bayley and Janette Manrara
Closing the show were Will and Janette with their Salsa to 1-2-3 by Gloria Estefan, based on Will’s victory dance at the Olympics. In training Will took Janette to a table tennis club before practising their routine. Will also spoke about his worries with the lifts and wanting to deliver a better performance than last week.
The dance: This was a super-fun routine from Will, with plenty of personality and great flair throughout. He had excellent hip action and gave a commanding performance, as well as coping really well with the lifts and tricks and great armography too. It was great to see him going for it and I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do next week.
The comments: Craig warned Will about dancing ahead of the beat and wanted him to be lower in the knees, but praised the lifts and his hip action and advised him to go for broke. Motsi ‘couldn’t have asked for more’, whilst Shirley said Will had ‘150% commitment’ and is ‘what Strictly is all about’. Bruno loved Will’s energy, enthusiasm and love for dancing.
The scores: 6, 6, 6, 6 – 24 out of 40
The leaderboard for the evening was:
Michelle Visage and Giovanni Pernice – 32
Karim Zeroual and Amy Dowden – 32
Kelvin Fletcher and Oti Mabuse – 28
Dev Griffin and Dianne Buswell – 27
Chris Ramsay and Karen Hauer – 26
Emma Barton and Anton du Beke – 24
Will Bayley and Janette Manrara – 24
Saffron Barker and AJ Pritchard – 23
Viscountess Emma Weymouth and Aljaz Skornajec – 22
Alex Scott and Neil Jones – 22
Anneka Rice and Kevin Clifton – 19
Catherine Tyldesley and Johannes Radebe – 19
Mike Bushell and Katya Jones – 14
James Cracknell and Luba Mushtuk – 13
David James and Nadiya Bychkova – 10
The leaderboard for the first and second weeks combined was:
Karim Zeroual and Amy Dowden – 63
Michelle Visage and Giovanni Pernice – 62
Kelvin Fletcher and Oti Mabuse – 60
Dev Griffin and Dianne Buswell – 57
Saffron Barker and AJ Pritchard – 50
Will Bayley and Janette Manrara – 50
Emma Barton and Anton du Beke – 47
Alex Scott and Neil Jones – 43
Viscountess Emma Weymouth and Aljaz Skornajec – 41
Chris Ramsay and Karen Hauer – 39
Catherine Tyldesley and Johannes Radebe – 39
Mike Bushell and Katya Jones – 36
Anneka Rice and Kevin Clifton – 33
David James and Nadiya Bychkova – 27
James Cracknell and Luba Mushtuk – 24
Strictly Come Dancing will return on Sunday 29th September at 7.15pm on BBC One for the first results show of the series.