We’re now well into Strictly Come Dancing 2019 and already this series is turning up plenty of surprises.
Last week viewers were shocked when early favourite Dev Griffin and his partner Dianne Buswell were eliminated, losing the dance-off to Viscountess Emma Weymouth and Aljaz Skornajec. It showed that no-one is truly safe and now the pressure is on for our 12 remaining couples.
Presenters Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman were there to cheer on the contestants, whilst judges Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Shirley Ballas gave their expert insight. Alfonso Ribeiro also returned to the judge’s chair after his winning appearance last year, temporarily replacing Bruno Tonioli.
So who reached new highs and who might be in trouble? Read on to find out…
Kelvin Fletcher and Oti Mabuse
Kelvin wowed the judges and the audience with his Rumba last week – but this week was a complete change as he and Oti danced a Cha-Cha-Cha to Aston Merrygold’s Get Stupid. In training former Strictly contestant Aston came to visit Kelvin and Oti to get some advice – including ‘channel Aljaz’ – and they showed him some of their routine.
The dance: We know Kelvin has good hip action and it was definitely out in force in this Cha-Cha. I thought he moved across the floor really well, delivering a slick, sharp routine with some great lines and plenty of cheekiness. He had the right mix of straight and bent legs and coped well with the tricks in the routine too. Overall it was a great way to open the show and should see him back near the top of the leaderboard again.
The comments: Shirley said Kelvin brought the sunshine to the ballroom and had great body action, but wanted him to have a stronger leg action to create more fluidity. Alfonso thought Kelvin brought the heat and had great hip action, with an exciting routine. Craig felt Kelvin’s walks were a bit stiff, but his rhythm and isolation were amazing and he had great arms in the New Yorkers. Motsi liked Kelvin’s foot speed, natural expression and energy.
The scores: 8, 8, 8, 9 – 33 out of 40
David James and Nadiya Bychkova
David avoided the dance-off last week after getting his highest score so far in a ‘miraculous’ comeback, and this week he and Nadiya took on the Jive to Michael Buble’s Such A Night. In training David was left speechless by the response to his performance on Saturday, as well as enjoying the fun feel of this week’s dance but wanting to get serious and put in the hard work.
The dance: David definitely brought a cool retro feel to this dance, with plenty of swagger and coping well with the tricks, but sadly for me it wasn’t as strong as his performance. I wanted more drive through the floor – it felt very skippy in places and too walky and placed in others – as well as more energy in his kicks and flicks, which seemed a little lacklustre. He still needs to concentrate on finishing his hands too. The whole thing looked far too sloppy and sadly I think he might be back in the dance-off this week.
The comments: Alfonso pointed out David’s mistakes but encouraged but to let it go and have fun. Craig said there were timing issues and wanted David to dance ahead of the beat, as well as having more energy, but that his body is moving much more freely. Motsi was pleased with David’s upper body and said he made it fun, but there were a lot of mistakes his stage presence covered up. Shirley thought there was good basic content and was impressed by his professionalism in picking up and carrying on, but encouraged him to keep working to iron out his mistakes.
The scores: 3, 4, 4, 5 – 16 out of 40
Catherine Tyldesley and Johannes Radebe
Catherine has improved considerably over the last couple of weeks, but could she and Johannes keep it up with their Tango to Annie Lennox’s Little Bird? In training Catherine spoke about her limited knowledge of the Tango and getting into the character of the dance and telling the story, as well as keeping her posture and resistance.
The dance: Catherine began the routine descending from the studio ceiling, with a robotic solo start before getting into hold. You could see she’d been working on her posture and hold – she and Johannes were practically welded together throughout – and she had great drive across the floor and plenty of drama in the routine. Although a couple of the tricks didn’t come across quite so well and I would have liked some more heel leads, the dance was full of storytelling and it was yet another strong performance from her.
The comments: Craig didn’t feel Catherine and Johannes were dancing as one unit and that her footwork was sloppy, as well as a lack of V shape, but loved her head placement and the staccato feel. Motsi thought Catherine has been growing week on week, but wanted her to work on her resistance. Shirley said there’s no mistaking Catherine’s passion and improving frame, but also criticised her footwork. Alfonso thought Catherine brought out the character of the dance and her top line was ‘absolutely gorgeous’.
The scores: 6, 7, 7, 8 – 28 out of 40
Karim Zeroual and Amy Dowden
After returning to form with their Tango last week, this week Karim and Amy performed a Salsa to Who Let The Dogs Out by Baha Men. In training Karim spoke about how the Tango was ‘a dream’ and getting his first 10s, but also found the lifts and tricks in the dance challenging. He and Amy were also visited by Karim’s CBBC co-presenter, Hacker T Dog, who caused a bit of mayhem in the training room…
The dance: This was certainly a fast and frenetic routine, with good hip action from Karim throughout and nice synchronisation between him and Amy. I thought it flowed really well and had a great sense of fun, with good armography, and he handled the tricks and lifts well too. For me Karim always shines when he can show off his personality and have fun with the dance, and this was definitely one of those times. Sometimes it went a little all over the place, but for me that just added to the charm and shows why he’s considered a potential winner of Strictly Come Dancing 2019.
The comments: Motsi loved it – Karim’s body isolations, changes and lifts were on point and he takes the competition to a whole other level. Shirley said it was ‘off the charts’, praising his arms and co-ordination, and it was a ‘delight’ to watch. Alfonso thought ‘the standing ovation said it all’. Craig wanted Karim to smooth out his side-to-side basic and danced a bit too hard, but loved it ‘of course’.
The scores: 8, 10, 9, 9 – 36 out of 40
Michelle Visage and Giovanni Pernice
Michelle is still one of the frontrunners to win Strictly Come Dancing 2019, and this week we saw a different side to her as she and Giovanni performed a Rumba to Too Good At Goodbyes by Sam Smith. In training Michelle spoke to her daughters back in the US who sent her a message of support, as well as a bunch of flowers. She also spoke about wanting to give the best performance possible to make them proud.
The dance: Michelle really brought out the emotion of the dance, particularly during her opening solo section. I thought she had beautiful arms and some great rumba walks, as well as striking a great balance between the passionate and more moving sides of the Rumba. As always she acted it well too. For me I would have liked slightly more hip action and her legs were a little bent in places, but otherwise this was another good routine from Michelle and should see her safely through to next week.
The comments: Shirley said it was elegant and clean but lacked sensuality from the centre, although Michelle executed the choreography well. Alfonso loved the story and Michelle and Giovanni’s connection. Craig thought it didn’t ‘ooze’ and there was a lack of continuous movement, but the storytelling was brilliant. Motsi said Michelle has a ‘special aura’ and felt every movement she gave, as well as enjoying the more lyrical side of the dance.
The scores: 7, 7, 7, 8 – 29 out of 40
Emma Barton and Anton du Beke
Emma scored her first 9s last week, and this week she and Anton had another chance to climb the leaderboard with their Paso Doble, danced to Nothing Breaks Like A Heart by Mark Ronson featuring Miley Cyrus. In training Emma struggled with the dance after having limited time to learn the routine, particularly the shaping and controlling her nerves – could she pull it out of the bag on the night?
The dance: Well there was certainly plenty of drama in the routine, with Emma showing fantastic control particularly in the opening section. Although she struggled a little to hold the shaping in her arms, I thought she captured the intensity of the dance well and coped with the speed too. That said, it was a bit skippy in places and the hold was slightly gappy, whilst at times it looked like she was clinging on for dear life. Perhaps not as strong as last week but definitely not her worst dance either.
The comments: Alfonso thought Emma gave it her all and had great lines, but wanted more passion and energy. Craig agreed – it lacked fire and earth, and Emma’s free arm was very haphazard. Motsi was wowed by the beginning and praised Emma for staying in character throughout. Shirley said there was no passion between Emma and Anton and it was a little placed, with a lack of detail, but she still has great potential.
The scores: 5, 7, 7, 7 – 26 out of 40
Alex Scott and Neil Jones
Alex has been making slow progress throughout Strictly Come Dancing – could she and Neil see a dramatic improvement with their Charleston to Pump Up The Jam by Swingrowers? In training Alex spoke about her mixed emotions after last week’s routine and her determination to keep fighting. It was also her birthday so Karim and Amy joined her and Neil in training to celebrate.
The dance: Alex has arrived! Oozing cool in her sharp suit, she and Neil delivered a dramatic opening start with plenty of swagger before moving into their light, bright Charleston. It had tons of character and a real sense of fun and liveliness about it, with Alex practically bouncing off the floor like Tigger and having great energy throughout. She also coped well with the lifts and tricks (including catching Neil in a cartwheel!) and the whole thing was just an absolute joy to watch.
The comments: Craig saw a lot of improvement from last week, calling it ‘unbelievable’ and saying the dance totally suits her. Motsi thought Alex finally let loose and her technique is coming together, praising her light feet and facial expressions. Shirley said it was Alex’s best dance to date and she took absolute control throughout, as well as having a lovely dynamic with Neil. Alfonso liked the urban feel of the routine and said Alex has come out of her shell – she’s now a ‘wonderful butterfly’.
The scores: 8, 8, 8, 9 – 33 out of 40
Viscountess Emma Weymouth and Aljaz Skornajec
After surviving the dance-off last week, could Emma and Aljaz stay out of trouble with their Viennese Waltz to the Whitney Houston classic Saving All My Love For You. In training Emma spoke about her fear of going home last week after the dance-off, as well as struggling to stay to the left during the turns of the routine – could she get it right on the night?
The dance: Emma definitely seems much more comfortable in Ballroom, and this was another dreamy routine from her. She coped well with the armography at the start and had beautiful flow across the floor, and I thought her posture in hold was much better than in Movie Week. There was a nice amount of rise and fall too, plus she had nice head placement and acted it well. A definite improvement on last week and hopefully she should avoid the dance-off this week.
The comments: Motsi said it was ‘beautiful in every aspect’, praising Emma’s top line and the feeling she brought to the dance. Shirley said it was a ‘miraculous recovery’ from last week and that Emma improved her ‘beautiful’ frame dramatically. Alfonso said Emma is what this show is about and that she was ‘brilliant’. Craig said it was fantastic and that Emma had proved why she’s still in the competition.
The scores: 9, 9, 9, 9 – 36 out of 40
Mike Bushell and Katya Jones
Mike made a huge leap up the leaderboard with his Quickstep last week. But could he and Katya do even better with their Samba to The Sugarhill Gang’s Jump On It? In training Mike spoke about wanting to put the essence of guest judge Alfonso’s routine to the same song on Dancing With The Stars into Mike’s performance, whilst trying to balance the technical difficulty of the dance with a sense of fun and wanting to do it justice ‘Bushell style’.
The dance: Mike definitely looks a lot more at ease every time he steps onto the dance floor, and it was clear he was having a lot of fun with this routine. However for me it wasn’t technically there – there was a distinct lack of bounce and hip action and it felt both very placed and like a bit of a free-for-all at the same time. You can’t fault his enthusiasm and he definitely knows how to work a crowd, but sadly I fear that he might find himself in the dance-off this week.
The comments: Shirley thought it was an amazing crowd pleaser but left it there for the actual Samba. Alfonso also didn’t want to talk about the Samba, but came out from behind the desk to perform the routine with Mike and Katya. Craig ‘recoiled in horror’ – it was like watching a three-year-old attempt the Samba. Motsi was confused – she didn’t feel Samba, but loved Mike’s entertainment and energy.
The scores: 3, 6, 5, 7 – 21 out of 40
Will Bayley and Janette Manrara
Will and Janette became the third couple in Strictly Come Dancing 2019 to perform their Couple’s Choice, dancing a Contemporary routine to 7 Years by Lukas Graham. In training Will spoke about how much he’s enjoying Strictly despite the difficulties, as well as the challenges he faced growing up and the support he received from his family. We also heard from his mum about how proud she is of him, whilst Will and Janette visited the children at Great Ormond Street Hospital where Will was treated when he was younger.
The dance: This was a gorgeous, touching routine from Will and Janette, full of emotion and tenderness. I thought he told the story well and had a great command of the dance, as well as handling the lifts well too – particularly a dramatic hands-free one towards the end – and coping with the frequent changes in tone and pace. It was absolutely outstanding and I may have found myself shedding a tear by the end.
The comments: A teary Alfonso said Will gave him chills and the dance was absolutely inspiring. Craig praised the clear, emotional storytelling and that Will had form and purpose, but wanted more free movement in his torso to create more connection. Motsi was also moved to tears, getting a hug from Will, whilst Shirley said Will showed that no matter what you put your mind to you can do it and it was a ‘beautiful number well-executed’.
The scores: 7, 8, 8, 9 – 32 out of 40
Chris Ramsay and Karen Hauer
After seeing an improvement in their scores with last week’s Jive, this week Chris and Karen faced a rock and roll Quickstep to Let’s Go Crazy by Prince. In training Chris and Karen visited his old school and his former headteacher paid them a visit, as well as revealing stories about Chris’ time at school and performing in front of current pupils at school assembly.
The dance: Starting and finishing on the judges’ desk, this was a fun and high-energy Quickstep, with good movement across the floor from Chris and good posture in hold. I thought it really brought out his personality and was hugely entertaining, and he did a really good job of leading Karen too. His frame and footwork have improved a lot – although there are still things to work on with the latter – and I loved the tricks too. Perhaps not the most technically accomplished dance, but it was certainly enjoyable to watch!
The comments: Craig wanted Chris to use more of the floor and that his top line was going a ‘little bit mad’, but loved his personality. Motsi said everything improved, particularly Chris’ top line and performance, and wanted him to keep pushing. Shirley liked Chris’ determination and power as well as continual improvement, but wanted him to work on his feet – he was a little flat-footed. Alfonso said Chris made it fun and did a great job.
The scores: 5, 6, 7, 7 – 25 out of 40
Saffron Barker and AJ Pritchard
Saffron delivered an electrifying performance with her Contemporary routine last week, but this week she and AJ completely switched styles with their Foxtrot to Frank Sinatra’s Theme From New York, New York. In training Saffron found the technical aspects of the dance and prop work quite challenging, and spoke about the importance of staying mentally focused and struggling with injuries but wanting to deliver a good performance on the night.
The dance: This was a routine straight out of a classic Hollywood movie, with good prop work from Saffron and beautifully finished lines. She moved really nicely across the floor, with some good heel leads, and had great top line and frame in hold. Her performance oozed glamour and class and was a great finale for this week’s show. I can’t wait to see how she’ll top this with her American Smooth…
The comments: Motsi thought Saffron did ‘really, really, really well’ and that she lived up to the song, giving show and technique. Shirley said Saffron was dancing towards the end of the beat and had ‘gorgeous’ heel pulls and heel turns, as well as impressive timing. Alfonso thought Saffron’s rise and fall was ‘spectacular’ and she did it with a bang. Craig agreed – technically it was brilliant, with a clever ending, and Saffron really surprised him.
The scores: 9, 10, 9, 10 – 38 out of 40
The leaderboard for the evening was:
Saffron Barker and AJ Pritchard – 38
Karim Zeroual and Amy Dowden – 36
Viscountess Emma Weymouth and Aljaz Skornajec – 36
Kelvin Fletcher and Oti Mabuse – 33
Alex Scott and Neil Jones – 33
Will Bayley and Janette Manrara – 32
Michelle Visage and Giovanni Pernice – 29
Catherine Tyldesley and Johannes Radebe – 28
Emma Barton and Anton du Beke – 26
Chris Ramsay and Karen Hauer – 25
Mike Bushell and Katya Jones – 21
David James and Nadiya Bychkova – 16
Strictly Come Dancing 2019 returns with the Results Show on Sunday 20th October at 7.15pm on BBC One.