We’re just two weeks away from the final of Strictly Come Dancing 2022 – and the famous glitterball trophy is in touching distance for our remaining contestants.
Unfortunately, Ellie Taylor’s hopes of lifting the prize were dashed last week after she became the ninth celebrity to leave this year’s series. The comedian and actress and her partner Johannes Radebe lost the dance-off to Fleur East and Vito Coppola.
Now there are just six couples left standing as Strictly kicks off its final theme week of the year, paying tribute to classic musicals. But who would get rave reviews – and who would be closing early?
Presenters Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman talked us through the action on the ballroom floor, whilst judges Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Anton Du Beke and head judge Shirley Ballas all shared their thoughts on Charlestons, Couple’s Choices and Cha-Cha-Chas. The show also opened with Strictly’s professional dancers performing a medley of musical dance numbers, accompanied by a host of West End stars.
Let’s find out how they got on…
Molly Rainford and Carlos Gu
Tonight Molly and Carlos opened the show with a Charleston, dancing to the ‘Hot Honey Rag’ from ‘Chicago’. In their VT Molly spoke about how thrilled she was to have made it to the quarter final, but also found the intense training and the swivel action need for the dance difficult, as well as struggling to execute the routine’s tricks in training. Would she and Carlos swivel their way into the semi-finals?
The dance: I thought Molly had a great cheeky character in this routine. Her synchronisation – both with Carlos and with Lauren in the opening section – was absolutely on point, and she brought such a sense of fun and playfulness to the performance. Great timing, a nice amount of sass, and some fabulous tricks too that she made look absolutely effortless. It definitely wasn’t an easy routine but she absolutely pulled it off and should be sailing through to next week on the strength of that.
The comments: Shirley said she ‘was not expecting that at all’, praising Molly’s handling of the tricks; she ‘looked like [she was] having a ball’. Anton agreed – Molly’s execution was wonderful and she picked the right moment to up her game. Craig would have liked Molly’s right elbow to be higher, but loved her power and energy. Motsi thought Molly was shining and brought an ‘amazing’ level especially in the opening section.
The scores: 9, 10, 10, 9 – 38 out of 40
Hamza Yassin and Jowita Przystal
Despite mixed reviews for their Argentine Tango last week, Hamza and Jowita made it safely through to the quarter finals. Would their Samba to? In their VT Hamza spoke about wanting to capture the storytelling of the routine. They also received a visit from the stars of the West End show who helped them get into character as Simba and Nala, as well as showing them a snippet of their dance.
The dance: I felt this was a really unusual spin on the Samba, with plenty of dynamic movements and great musicality from Hamza. It had plenty of power, good hip and body action and strong drive across the floor, and I felt he really took command of the dance. His solo section towards the end was great too and I found myself getting quite emotional but the end. It was perhaps a little low on energy compared to a classic Samba, but definitely something different and another excellent performance from him.
The comments: Anton was a bit overwhelmed, but really impressed, saying Hamza had great fluidity and ‘rippling’ body action. Craig agreed; Hamza’s stationary Samba walks were ‘out of this world’ and his hips were fantastic, but his knees need to come in slightly in places. Motsi loved Hamza’s control, whilst Shirley felt he portrayed the music well and liked his changes of rhythm – as well as his turned out feet!
The scores: 9, 9, 9, 9 – 36 out of 40
Kym Marsh and Graziano Di Prima
Kym and Graziano were back in the ballroom this week after missing last week’s show due to Kym testing positive for Covid. They’ve been steadily improving over the weeks – but would their Cha-Cha to ‘Fame’ from ‘Fame’ be a winner? In their VT Kym spoke about being glad to be back but also finding the count of the routine and co-ordinating her body action challenging.
The dance: There was a real joyful quality about this routine, but also plenty of Cha-Cha content too. I thought Kym had great hip action, lovely clean lines in her arms and hands and great sharp footwork, and the moves from the musical were incorporated really well. She had lots of sass – especially out of hold with Graziano – really great energy and coped well with the tricks too. It was a strong comeback for her and I really hope it’s enough to see her through to next week.
The comments: Craig said it was ‘amazing’, praising Kym’s straight legs and hip action. Motsi thought Kym captured the cheekiness and energy of the dance, but wanted slightly more hip rotation. Shirley was impressed with Kym’s body movement, as well as her timing in her solo section. Anton said Kym was a great jazz dancer and it was a clean performance, but wanted her weight to be a little more forward.
The scores: 8, 9, 9, 8 – 34 out of 40
Will Mellor and Nancy Xu
Will and Nancy topped the leaderboard with their Charleston last week, but now they were back in Ballroom mode, dancing a Foxtrot to ‘Sun And Moon’ from ‘Miss Saigon’. In their VT Will spoke about how thrilled he was to reach the quarter finals, as well as the moving routine and storytelling of the dance, but also wanting to get the details right. He and Nancy also watched clips of the 25th anniversary performance to help them get into character for their performance.
The dance: This was a dance that really brought out Will’s acting skills. I felt he had beautiful movement across the floor and a delicate, caring quality in the opening section. His posture in hold was good and he had some nice heel leads, but I did feel he could have been up out of his knees a little more sometimes – at times it looked more like a Tango hold. His open mouth was a bit of a distraction too. However, it was a lovely, emotional performance that showed how far he’s come as a dancer – I actually found myself welling up towards the end!
The comments: Motsi absolutely loved it, calling it a ‘quiet wow’ – Will really brought out the emotion of the routine and had a lovely soft quality to his performance. Shirley said it was heartfelt and called Will’s footwork ‘beautiful’. Anton thought it was a complete performance, with drama, storytelling and poignancy, and Will’s three-step was ‘a dream’. Craig called it ‘thoroughly gorgeous’ and ‘absolutely believable’.
The scores: 9, 10, 10, 10 -39 out of 40
Helen Skelton and Gorka Marquez
Helen and Gorka received mixed comments from the judges for their Salsa last week. Could they reach the top of the leaderboard with their Couple’s Choice routine to ‘Mein Herr’ from ‘Cabaret’? In their VT Helen spoke about wanting to do something a bit different with this performance, as well as meeting up with her parents to reflect on her childhood and how grateful she is for them. She also talked about how Strictly Come Dancing has helped her grow in confidence.
The dance: Wow! This was a cool, Fosse-influenced, jazzy routine that really captured the spirit of the musical. Helen oozed cool and confidence, with sharp, precise movements. plenty of power, and some absolutely stunning tricks – I properly gasped at the splits move! She seemed in complete control throughout, adding her own cheeky touches – there were shades of her Charleston in the mid section – and based on those lifts and leg movements her Argentine Tango will be amazing. Sassy, slick, and a Strictly routine for the ages. I can’t wait to see it again in the final!
The comments: Shirley had goosebumps; Helen had great technique and co-ordination, and she will ‘treasure the memory forever’. Anton enjoyed it so much he got emotional at Helen’s growing confidence. Craig thought Helen could have used her centre more (despite boos from the audience) and hyperextended, but she did a brilliant job. Motsi said it was all about Helen – she had attitude and intention as well as great leadership throughout her performance.
The scores: 9, 10, 10, 10 – 39 out of 40
Fleur East and Vito Coppola
After surviving their third dance-off last week, tonight Fleur and Vito were hoping to come back with a bang, closing the show with a Quickstep to ‘I Got Rhythm’ from ‘An American In Paris’. In their VT Fleur spoke how much she enjoyed last week’s Rumba and how the strength of her firendship with Vito has helped her through Strictly Come Dancing, as well as the challenge of the speed of the dance.
The dance: Fleur had a wonderful light quality to her performance and moved across the floor beautifully. Her synchronisation with Vito was great and she brought a great performance level and acting skills to the routine as well – the whole thing wouldn’t have looked out of place on a West End stage! She also had nice posture in and out of hold, lovely lines in her hands and arms, and a real sense of fun and joyfulness. A great way to close the show and hopefully will see her safe from the dance-off.
The comments: Anton said the routine was ‘marvellous’. Craig thought it had class, style and sophistication and was ‘absolutely gorgeous’. Motsi felt Fleur had spinkled some magic on the whole show. Shirley thought it was beautiful, loved the 50s style and praised Fleur’s Ballroom frame, calling her ‘a star’.
The scores: 9, 10, 9, 10 – 38 out of 40
The leaderboard for the evening was:
Will and Nancy – 39
Helen and Gorka – 39
Molly and Carlos – 38
Fleur and Vito – 38
Hamza and Jowita – 36
Kym and Graziano – 34
Strictly Come Dancing 2022 will return with the Results Show on Saturday 3rd December at 5.40 PM on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.