After a triumphant return to Blackpool last week, tonight Strictly Come Dancing 2022 was back in the ballroom at Elstree – and with just seven couples left in the running, the race to the final is well and truly on.
Unfortunately Tyler West won’t be in contention after the Kiss FM DJ and his partner Dianne Buswell were eliminated last week, losing the dreaded-dance off to Molly Rainford and Carlos Gu.
Kym Marsh also tested positive for Covid earlier this week, meaning she and her partner Graziano Di Prima would miss tonight’s show. If they are unable to return next week, they will have to leave the competition for good.
That said, there were still plenty of great performances in store from all our remaining couples, who were determined to deliver outstanding routines and reach next week’s quarter final.
Presenters Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman were on hand to take the audience through every step, whilst judges Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Anton Du Beke and head judge Shirley Ballas all shared their thoughts on the contestants’ postures and promenades.
So who would make it through and who would sadly miss out? Read on to find out…
Will Mellor and Nancy Xu
Will and Nancy delivered a hugely entertaining Samba to close the show in Blackpool last week, and tonight they were hoping to keep the party going with their Charleston to Kula Shaker’s 90s classic ‘Hush’. In their VT Will spoke how much he enjoyed performing in Blackpool, but also struggled with the stamina of this week’s routine. He and Nancy also received a visit from his kids in training.
The dance: This was a cool, slick, sharp Charleston, with plenty of playful energy and great control from Will throughout. I loved his sense of swagger throughout and thought he did brilliantly with the lifts, as well as having fantastic timing and excellent synchronisation with Nancy. It felt like a routine that he really brought his personality to it and I thought it was another very strong performance from him.
The comments: Shirley said every single thing worked for Will, praising the lifts and his leading skills. Anton thought it was one of Will’s best performances of the series, with clean, connected moves. Craig wanted Will to place his free arm more, but the swivel was fantastic – he ‘absolutely loved it’. Motsi agreed; it was fast, slick and athletic, with a great bond between Will and Nancy.
The scores: 9, 10, 10, 9 – 38 out of 40
Molly Rainford and Carlos Gu
Molly and Carlos survived their third dance-off of Strictly Come Dancing 2022 last week – could they dodge it tonight with their Tango to Billie Eilish’s ‘Bad Guy’? In their VT Molly spoke about the challenge of last week’s dance-off but also wanting to come back stronger, as well as mastering the Tango frame and energy. The other contestants also surprised her with a cake and balloons in training for her 22nd birthday.
The dance: I loved the drama and acting skills Molly brought to this dance. She had great control and precision, especially out of hold, and I felt like her moves were sharp and clean throughout. There was a slight stumble midway through and I would have liked her to get down into her knees more, but overall I felt she had good drive across the floor and brought the right amount of power and intensity needed for this routine – truly getting into the spirit of the Tango.
The comments: Anton said this was the first time Molly has shown her true dance ability, particularly the separation of her head. Craig wanted more of a V-shape in the frame but loved the amount of aggression and storytelling. Motsi liked that Carlos challenged Molly with the routine and the balance of Tango content and style. Shirley praised Molly’s fighting spirit and the improvement in her body position, as well as her footwork.
The scores: 8, 9, 9, 9 – 35 out of 40
Ellie Taylor and Johannes Radebe
Despite being on the bottom of the leaderboard last week, Ellie and Johannes made it back from Blackpool. Tonight they were hoping to bounce back with their Thelma and Louise-themed Jive to ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ by Van Morrison. In their VT Ellie spoke about the once-in-a-lifetime experience of dancing in Blackpool, but also finding the sheer amount of content needed for the routine challenging – would she be able to deliver?
The dance: I really liked this from Ellie. For me it had great character, nice sharp kicks and flicks and good accuracy in the hand movements too. I thought she coped with the tricks well but what really stood out to me was her sheer enjoyment level. It did lose its way a little in the middle and could have done with a bit more spring for me, but overall it was a very fun, entertaining performance that feels like a real high point for her in the competition.
The comments: Craig felt it lacked punch and precision and the footwork was messy. Motsi said Ellie brought the fun of the Jive and her performance was strong again, but it needed to be lighter. Shirley liked the narrative but the technique missed completely – it looked heavy and flat-footed. Anton thought Ellie sold the dance and loved her characerisation.
The scores: 5, 7, 6, 7 – 25 out of 40
Fleur East and Vito Coppola
Fleur and Vito scored the first perfect 40 of Strictly Come Dancing 2022 with their Couple’s Choice routine in Blackpool last week. Could they do it again tonight with their Rumba to Sugababes’ ‘Too Lost In You’? In their VT Fleur spoke of the ‘dream’ of getting a 40, whilst also dealing with the precision and technique required for the Rumba. Would her performance be enough to see her into the quarter final?
The dance: This was a controlled, sensual Rumba from Fleur, with lovely flow throughout and a real sense of grace and power. I thought her hip action was good and she told the story of the dance very well as well as handling the tricks nicely. A couple of the moves felt slightly throwaway but overall this had exactly the right amount of drama and passion needed for me. She’s really peaking at the right time and I think this will definitely get her through to next week.
The comments: Motsi loved that Fleur focused on the technical aspects of the dance but wanted more lightness. Shirley said it was extremely passionate and Fleur has controlled her energy without losing her sense of freedom, as well as having good foot and leg action, but it needed a little more rotation. Anton agreed – Fleur was wonderfully on time and beautifully on balance, and she had control of the dance. Craig thought Fleur needed to breathe more, but loved the connection and storytelling.
The scores: 8, 9, 9, 9 – 35 out of 40
Hamza Yassin and Jowita Prysztal
Hamza and Jowita delivered a stunning American Smooth routine last week in Blackpool, but tonight they were aiming for a completely different feel with their Argentine Tango to ‘Libertango’ by Bond. In their VT Hamza spoke about how much he enjoyed performing in Blackpool, but also mastering the precision and control needed for the Argentine Tango, as well as the leadership and connection between him and Jowita.
The dance: Wow! Hamza really showed his dramatic side in this routine. It was brooding, controlled and powerful, with some great lifts, and I thought he showed Jowita off really well. His leg movements had lovely precision (including in his ballerina spin), and he acted the dance brilliantly as well – especially the finale! Another absolutely stunning dance from him that should see him safely into Musicals Week. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off for a lie down…
The comments: Shirley praised Hamza’s ‘amazing’ leading skills and how he made Jowita shine. Anton said it was a dance of two halves – the top half was intense and calm, but the bottom half ‘looked like playing centre forward for Bradford City’ and needed tidying up. Craig agreed; the footwork was extremely messy, but he loved the top half. Motsi, however, thought Hamza was grounded and connected with Jowita and had great passion.
The scores: 8, 10, 10, 9 – 37 out of 40
Helen Skelton and Gorka Marquez
After wowing with their Quickstep in Blackpool last week, tonight Helen and Gorka were hoping to dazzle the judes with their Samba to ‘Eso Beso’ by Emma Bunton. In their VT Helen spoke about how much she loved last week’s dance and how much the competition has impacted her, as well as trying to capture the party mood and details of the Samba routine.
The dance: Helen definitely has her mojo back. I thought she had great bounce action, brilliant hips and nice sharp arm and hand movements. There was a real sense of joy about her routine and she brought so much personality and life to the routine, especially in her solo section. It could have perhaps done with slightly more drive into the floor in places, but overall it was a super-fun way to close the show and shows how much she’s grown over the weeks.
The comments: Anton loved that Helen’s personality came out in the routine. Craig, however, thought the trolley had more body action – Helen was very rigid and wooden and lacked bounce, but the personality was fantastic. Motsi liked the details in the routine but wanted her to bring her weight forward. Shirley praised Helen’s self-belief and confidence and said the routine was highly entertaining, with plenty of bounce.
The scores: 5, 8, 8, 8 – 29 out of 40
The leaderboard for the evening was:
Will and Nancy – 38
Hamza and Jowita – 37
Fleur and Vito – 35
Molly and Carlos – 35
Helen and Gorka – 29
Ellie and Johannes – 25
Strictly Come Dancing 2022 will return with the Results Show on Sunday 27th November at 6 PM on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.