We’re now well into Strictly Come Dancing 2022 and the competition is getting very real.
Last week, comedian and actress Jayde Adams became the fourth celebrity to be eliminated from the show, after she and her professional partner Karen Hauer lost the dance-off to Molly Rainford and Carlos Gu.
This week the 11 remaining couples were back in the ballroom – or should that be boo-llroom? – for Strictly’s annual Halloween special. Presenters Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman were there to guide us through all the tricks and treats from the dancefloor, whilst judges Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Anton Du Beke and head judge Shirley Ballas gave their views on every scary Salsa and terrifying Tango.
So who was frightfully good – and who was just plain frightful? Read on to find out…
Tony Adams and Katya Jones
Despite coming bottom on the Strictly Come Dancing leaderboard last week, Tony still managed to avoid the dance-off. This week he and Katya were hoping to improve as they kicked off the show with their Quickstep to ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia’ by The Charlie Daniels Band. In their VT Katya took Tony to a Western-themed bar to get into character for their routine, whilst Tony spoke about enjoying playing a more suave character and wanting to do his best every week.
The dance: Tony had some great sharp footwork and moved well across the floor, as well as having some good movements in his solo work. He does need to work on his gapping in hold and was a bit too much up on his toes at times, plus I would have preferred his timing to be neater, but he absolutely flew across the floor and seemed much more in command of the dance than previous weeks. I’m not sure if it’ll be enough to keep him out of the dance-off but it’s certainly a big improvement and his best dance yet in my view.
The comments: Shirley was ‘absolutely in shock’, praising Tony’s footwork, lightness and frame. Anton thought Tony was ‘unrecognisable’ from previous weeks and is ‘a proper dancer’. Craig said ‘welcome to the ballroom’ – Tony has found his dance. Motsi loved Tony’s hard work and performance level.
The scores: 7, 8, 8, 8 – 31 out of 40
Will Mellor and Nancy Xu
After a triumphant comeback with their Viennese Waltz last week, tonight Will and Nancy were hoping to keep the ball rolling with a mummy-themed Cha-Cha-Cha to ‘Mama Told Me Not To Come’ by Tom Jones and Stereophonics. In their VT Will spoke about finding the different count of the dance and moving his top and bottom halves separately challenging, as well as hitting the balance between technique and character.
The dance: I thought Will acted this dance absolutely brilliantly right from the off. His solo section was really playful and full of character, and he had good synchronisation with Nancy too. There were a couple of stumbles and his legs could have been straighter, but I thought he did a good job leading the dance and his hip action was decent throughout. Perhaps not his strongest dance but I thought it was really entertaining and should see him safely through to next week.
The comments: Anton thought it was ‘absolutely wonderful’ and liked Will’s control and energy as well as the characterisation, although he needed to turn his feet out more. Craig loved the body rolls and hip action as well as the stylisation. Motsi agreed – the concept was great, as was Will’s movement and isolation, but spotted a couple of heel leads. Shirley liked Will’s rhythm and character, calling it ‘very entertaining’.
The scores: 8, 8, 8, 8 – 32 out of 40
Kym Marsh and Graziano Di Prima
Tonight Kym and Graziano took on the first female celebrity Rumba of the series, dancing to ‘Frozen’ by Madonna. In their VT Kym spoke about finding the routine challenging, particularly using her arms, as well as wanting to do Graziano proud. Her family also visited them in training to play some Halloween games.
The dance: I thought Kym brought a real sensuality to the routine, with some nice hip action and good control in her spins. She had some great lines in her arms too, and I was impressed with how she posed on her standing leg. It was a powerful, well-acted routine and I think she’s definitely got her confidence back after a bit of a wobble last week.
The comments: Craig wanted more reach and extension, but Kym’s balance was ‘on it’ and she had total control. Motsi called it ‘stunning’ and loved Kym’s leg and body movements. Shirley thought it had power, softness, creativity, balance and character – Kym was ‘fantastic’. Anton said Kym was ‘back on form’.
The scores: 8, 8, 9, 9 – 34 out of 40
James Bye and Amy Dowden
After getting somewhat mixed reviews for their Foxtrot last week, tonight James and Amy were aiming to make a comeback with their Charleston to ‘Bumble Bee’ by LaVern Baker. In their VT James got a visit from some fellow EastEnders actors who’ve previously appeared on Strictly to give him some advice – would it pay off on the night?
The dance: James had great swivel at the start and brought a really loose, free quality to this dance, as well as coping well with the lifts and tricks (with one particular standout moment tossing Amy in the air!). I liked his goofiness and thought his side-by-side work with Amy was nice, and he had some impressive pace across the floor. It’s a big improvement on last week and one of his strongest performances so far.
The comments: Motsi said James’s personality shone through and the dance was fun and loose, but wanted more musicality. Shirley praised James’s arms and flow, but wanted him to change his energy throughout the performance. Anton thought the lifts were strong but it was a little bit throwaway – James should be finishing things off more. Craig wanted more right foot swivel and James needs to dance between steps, but his Charleston steps were good and he loved the lifts.
The scores: 6, 7, 7, 7 – 27 out of 40
Molly Rainford and Carlos Gu
After surviving the dreaded dance-off last week, tonight Molly and Carlos were hoping to bounce back with their vampire-themed Argentine Tango to ‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)’ by Kate Bush. In their VT Molly spoke about wanting to come back from being in the dance-off, but struggled with controlling where to direct her energy in the routine as well as wanting to show a different side and take some risks.
The dance: Well Molly certainly brought the drama! I thought she handled the lifts well, had plenty of nice sharp footwork in hold and brought the character of dance out all the way through the performance. There was the odd stumble but overall I thought she had some great control and delivered a confident, powerful routine that was definitely a big improvement on last week.
The comments: Shirley said there was ‘drama, passion and everything in between’, praising Molly’s intensity and timing. Anton thought Molly was clean in her execution and her performance was ‘immaculate’, but it needed more intensity to make it a showstopper. Craig felt Molly wasn’t following Carlos and getting into the lifts was ‘ugly’. Motsi, however, loved it – Molly had great control and precision.
The scores: 6, 9, 9, 9 – 33 out of 40
Tyler West and Dianne Buswell
Tyler has rapidly become a serious contender to win Strictly Come Dancing 2022, and tonight he and Dianne were aiming to reach the top of the leaderboard with their Cha-Cha-Cha to ‘Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)’ by Tanza Orchester Klaus Hallen. In their VT Tyler spoke about struggling with the timing and speed of the routine, whilst Dianne took him to the movies to see Beetlejuice – from which this week’s song is taken – to help get into character.
The dance: This was a sharp, clean routine, with great hip action from Tyler and – praise be! – straight legs throughout. It was a little skippy in places, but he really got into the character of the routine and had excellent energy, as well as good synchronisation in the side-by-side sections with Dianne. It was a fun, polished performance that showed why he’s got frontrunner status and is one of his best routines yet in my view.
The comments: Anton thought it was ‘brilliant’ – one of the best Cha-Cha-Chas he’s ever seen on Strictly. Craig thought there wasn’t enough Cha-Cha-Cha and Tyler needed more straight legs, but liked the isolation. Motsi loved Tyler’s hip action but wanted him to watch his centre. Shirley called it ‘juicy’ and praised Tyler’s body rhythm and rotation.
The scores: 7, 9, 9, 10 – 35 out of 40
Helen Skelton and Gorka Marquez
Helen and Gorka were joint top of the leaderboard last week, and were hoping they could make it two in a row with their Foxtrot to ‘Lil’ Red Riding Hood’ by Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs. In their VT Gorka repeatedly pranked Helen in rehearsals, whilst they also took a walk in the woods to get into character – with some spooky goings on…
The dance: I thought Helen performed this dance really well, particularly the acting at the start of the routine. She had a lovely graceful quality throughout, flowing beautifully across the floor and with great control in her arms too. Her footwork continues to improv as well and I spotted some nice heel leads. If I had one criticism it’s that she’s still a bit gappy in hold but she’s still a wonderful dancer to watch.
The comments: Craig said Helen’s left shoulder was slightly raised and he could see the mechanics, but it did have a lovely flow. Motsi thought it was beautiful and praised Helen’s growing strength in her dancing – she got ‘final vibes’. Shirley thought Helen looked a lot more comfortable and did a lovely heel turn but wanted to work on finishing her arms. Anton enjoyed it, singling out Helen’s ‘gorgeous’ footwork, but wanted her to hang left in hold.
The scores: 7, 8, 8, 9 – 32 out of 40
Hamza Yassin and Jowita Pryzstal
Hamza has now topped the leaderboard two weeks in a row – could he and Jowita make it three with their Tango to ‘Wicked Game’ by Chris Isaak tonight? In their VT Hamza spoke about struggling with the required posture for the dance and not being able to smile durng the dance. Could he channel his serious side and deliver another winning performance?
The dance: Wow! Hamza had great attack and power, driving across the dancefloor and leading Jowita with aplomb. I thought he pulled off the tricks in the routine brilliantly and created some fantastic shapes with his arms too. It did need to be a little more down into the knees in places, but overall I thought it was an absolutely brilliant performance and shows why he’s become a serious challenger to win Strictly Come Dancing 2022. Also full credit for staying in tango face throughout!
The comments: Motsi said Hamza is always a treat, praising the movement in his spine and ability to shift his weight. Shirley said Hamza and Jowita are a ‘dream team’ – there was a slight misstep, but he was ‘a king and a star’. Anton agreed that Hamza is an accomplished ballroom dancer with great lines and power across the floor, but wanted him to keep his left arm bent in promenade position. Craig wanted more of a V shape in hold but it was strong and confident.
The scores: 8, 9, 8, 8 – 33 out of 40
Fleur East and Vito Coppola
After wowing with their Eurovision-themed Jive last week, tonight Fleur and Vito danced a fortune teller-themed Salsa to ‘Break My Soul’ by Beyoncé. In their VT Fleur spoke about trying to master the Salsa hips, but also how much she’s been enjoying training for the routine. Could she channel that into a stunning performance?
The dance: Fleur had great command of the dance from the off, with some great dramatic movements and brilliant character. I thought she had fabulous flow in her arms throughout, coped well with the lifts and tricks, great hip action and travelled across the floor really nicely in her solo sections. It was a sharp, clean, energetic performance with tons of personality and showed that she’s definitely go her mojo back.
The comments: Shirley thought Fleur had great power and liked her connection with Vito, but wanted more finesse in her fundamentals. Anton said it was incredible to watch, but wanted Fleur to be aware of not going too far. Craig felt it was a bit messy – Fleur was a little heavy coming out of the lifts, but it was ‘incredible’. Motsi said Fleur brought a different type of energy.
The scores: 8, 8, 8, 8 – 32 out of 40
Ellie Simmonds and Nikita Kuzmin
This week, Ellie and Nikita were taking on the Foxtrot, dancing to ‘Scooby Doo, Where Are You?’ by David Mook and Ben Raleigh, whilst dressed as Velma and Shaggy. In their VT Ellie spoke about finding the technical challenge of the footwork and keeping her frame difficult, whilst she and Nikita visited Hampton Court Palace to get in character for their performance on Saturday – and ended up being chased by a terrifying figure…
The dance: I loved the quirky quality Ellie brought to this dance. Her control in hold was lovely and she had some nice rise and fall throughout, as well as acting the dance well and bringing a great sense of fun and playfulness – plus handling the routine’s many props! The footwork was great and she absolutely nailed the character as well. It was a big step up for her and felt like her strongest routine so far for me.
The comments: Anton thought it was wonderful, calling Ellie’s footwork ‘immaculate’, but wanted her to work on the transitions. Craig thought it was very stop-start and slightly boring. Motsi praised Ellie’s improvement in her acting and ballroom skills, particularly in hold. Shirley agreed with Anton – Ellie’s footwork was beautiful and she executed it well, but she wanted more out of hold to tie in all together.
The scores: 6, 8, 7, 8 – 29 out of 40
Ellie Taylor and Johannes Radebe
Ellie and Johannes have been on something of a roll the last couple of weeks – could they keep it going with their ‘Hocus Pocus’-themed Couple’s Choice routine to ‘I Put A Spell On You’ by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy? In their VT Ellie spoke about wanting to be a performer from a very young age and how she got into stand-up, as well as hoping the fun she’s having on Strictly wiil translate into her routine.
The dance: Ellie brought tons of character to this dance, as well as energy, drama and fun. She and Johannes had great synchronisation throughout and I really enjoyed the theatrical quality of the performance, as well she thinking she handled the lifts and transitions well. I loved all the nods to the movie too. It was a great way to end the show and personally I think it’s the best routine she’s produced so far.
The comments: Craig thought Ellie was a bit ahead of the tempo but it was one of her best dances. Motsi said it was her favourite dance of the evening a- she was ‘entertained in all sorts of ways’. Shirley agreed – it was intense and she ‘loved it’. Anton felt it was Ellie’s best dance by far.
The scores: 8, 9, 9, 9 – 35 out of 40
The leaderboard for the evening was:
Tyler and Dianne – 35
Ellie and Johannes – 35
Kym and Graziano – 34
Molly and Carlos – 33
Hamza and Jowita – 33
Will and Nancy – 32
Helen and Gorka – 32
Fleur and Vito – 32
Tony and Katya – 31
Ellie and Nikita – 29
James and Amy – 27
Strictly Come Dancing 2022 will return for the Results Show on Sunday 30th October at 7.20 PM on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.