Last week’s Strictly Come Dancing was a bit painful to watch as everyone skirted around the kissing scandal involving Katya Jones and her celebrity partner Seann Walsh.
The two were seemingly overmarked by the judges to keep them in the competition, which didn’t go down all that well with viewers at home. It was hard not to notice Katya’s husband Neil Jones displaying a face like thunder as he watched his wife tell Claudia Winkleman she’d had a great week.
With that now out of the way, the focus was back on the dancing tonight as the remaining couples tried to secure their place in the competition. Two couples performed Couples’ Choice routines too, adding a fresh dimension to the show.
We also had a special guest judge make an appearance. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star and Dancing With The Stars winner Alfonso Ribeiro replaced Bruno for one week only, joining Craig, Darcey and Shirley on the panel.
Keep reading to find out how everyone got on…
Dr Ranj Singh and Janette Manrara
Dr Ranj struggled in his last Ballroom dance, but could that change with his and Janette’s American Smooth to the Beach Boys’ Wouldn’t It Be Nice? In training Dr Ranj spoke about his nerves and struggled with the lifts, whilst Janette surprised him with a visit from his choir.
The dance: This was a bright and cheerful American Smooth, with good energy from Dr Ranj throughout and very smooth lifts. He had some timing problems early on and there was a small wobble near the end, but his posture has improved a lot from his Ballroom dance and I loved the playful quality of the routine.
The comments: Shirley called it ‘beautiful and sunny’ and praised Dr Ranj’s frame and footwork. Alfonso thought Dr Ranj delivered and looked happy to be there. Craig said the hold was lumpy and Dr Ranj lacked leadership but otherwise loved it, whilst Darcey liked his stronger core and focus but warned against him losing frame going backwards.
The score: 5, 6, 7, 7 – 25 out of 40
Lauren Steadman and AJ Pritchard
Lauren and AJ made Strictly history by becoming the first couple to perform a Couple’s Choice routine. They chose to do a Contemporary dance to Runnin’ by Naughty Boy featuring Beyonce. In training Lauren spoke about the challenge of showing emotion and she and AJ also met up with her family.
The dance: Lauren delivered a powerful and expressive routine, which flowed nicely and showed off some great shapes that echoed her athletic background. She captured the changing mood of the dance really well and her performance was full of emotion. The lifts were impressive but I found the transitions a little clunky.
The comments: Alfonso told Lauren to keep telling her story. Craig thought there was a lack of connection and wanted Lauren to live through the moment, but praised her bravery. Darcey liked Lauren’s strength and control but told her to breathe more to make the lifts smoother. Shirley loved Lauren’s flexed feet and that she delved deep emotionally but said the dance needed more fluidity.
The score: 4, 6, 7, 7 – 24 out of 40
Graeme Swann and Oti Mabuse
After thei spaceman-themed Jive last week, it was time for Graeme and Oti to take on a Tango to Roxanne by The Police In training Graeme was surprised by the speed of the dance, whilst he and Oti showed their routine to his wife and children at home.
The dance: This was another solid performance from Graeme. He stayed in character throughout, had good posture and control, and definitely took charge. Some of his steps were a bit walky whilst others were a little light, but the routine had plenty of drama and power and showed that he’s improving.
The comments: Craig liked the ‘enormous’ attack and staccato but thought it lost fire due to Graeme’s focus on technique. Darcey called it a ‘fierce’ performance and praised Graeme’s intent and frame but wanted him to correct his head incline. Shirley liked Graeme’s musicality and timing, whilst Alfonso enjoyed the energy and called it a solid routine.
The score: 6, 7 8, 8 – 29 out of 40
Ashley Roberts and Pasha Kovalev
Could Ashley and Pasha reclaim their place at the top of the leaderboard with their Rumba to Elton John’s Something About The Way You Look Tonight? In training Ashley found the precision of the dance difficult, but also spoke about working on her confidence before the live show.
The dance: Ashley had nice hip action and straight legs throughout, with good flow and control. She hit some lovely lines and brought plenty of passion to the routine too. However her hands were a bit throwaway at times and I’d have liked her to finish them off more.
The comments: Darcey liked the growing trust between Ashley and Pasha as well as her resistance and attitude, but thought her closes were jerky. Shirley was ‘like a kid in a candy store’ and praised Ashley’s ‘beautiful’ spiral and ‘unbelievable’ spins. Alfonso thought she delivered strength and ‘awesome’ control, and liked her change of pace throughout. Craig loved the passion and said it was ‘a-ma-zing’.
The score: 9, 9, 9, 9 – 36 out of 40
Seann Walsh and Katya Jones
After last week’s controversial Charleston, Seann and Katya had a chance to redeem themselves with their Quickstep to Lightning Bolt by Jake Bugg. In training Seann said he wanted to go back to enjoying his dancing, as well as getting a visit from fellow contestant Graeme.
The dance: This was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I loved the quirky character of the dance and thought Seann’s energy was good, but he had some issues with timing, lots of gapping in hold and the footwork was a bit sloppy. Not his best dance and he could be heading home this week.
The comments: Shirley thought Seann had speed problems and he missed a step, but that his frame is improving. Alfonso said it was a fantastic start and Seann gave it his all but lost energy. Craig thought it was messy and Seann’s steps were too big but the performance was lively and vibrant. Darcey thought it was light and fast but wanted Seann to stay focused.
The score: 5, 6, 6,7 – 24 out of 40
Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton
After topping the leaderboard last week, Stacey became a showgirl for her and Kevin’s Samba to Dave Hirschfelder and The Bogo Pogo Orchestra’s version of Tequila. In training Stacey said she felt ‘clunky’ doing the dance but tried to gain confidence from Kevin.
The dance: If Stacey was nervous I definitely couldn’t tell. She went for it right from her solo opening section, with tons of energy and plenty of bounce. The routine was packed with tricks and content and it was very fun to watch, with Stacey completely selling the performance.
The comments: Alfonso said Stacey painted a beautiful picture and brought everything together Craig called it ‘absolutely insane’ but wanted Stacey to spot on her turns. Darcey said she brought the spirit of the carnival and praised her travelling and spring, but that it got a bit wild. Shirley thought Stacey brought a basic routine to life and liked her timing and dynamic changes.
The score: 8, 7, 9, 9 – 33 out of 40
Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell
Last time Joe performed a Ballroom routine he was criticised for sticking his bottom out. This week he had chance to redeem himself with his and Dianne’s Waltz to Rainbow Connection by Sleeping At Last. In training Joe got a visit from his sister Zoe (AKA vlogging superstar Zoella) and spoke about his concerns over making mistakes and letting Dianne down.
The dance: This was a sweet and gentle Waltz and a big improvement from Joe’s last Ballroom dance. He had much better posture, showed off Dianne really nicely and had good control in his spins. I also thought he moved across the floor really well and made the dance look light and effortless.
The comments: Craig thought Joe’s movement was gorgeous and that he’s made a lot of technical improvements, but the log he was sitting on had more facial expression. Darcey praised Joe for leading the dance and liked his poise and elegance. Shirley thought he executed it well and brought an innocence and vulnerability to the dance, and liked his heel leads. Alfonso loved Joe and Dianne’s ‘magical’ connection and the subtlety of the routine.
The score: 6, 7, 8, 8 – 29 out of 40
Vick Hope and Graziano Di Prima
Vick made huge progress with her Quickstep last week, so could she and Graziano build on that with their Cha-Cha-Cha to More Than Friends by James Hype featuring Kelli-Leigh? In training Vick took Graziano to her hometown of Newcastle, where she taught him some Geordie phrases and they visited the bar Vick used to work in.
The dance: Unfortunately this was a bit of a missed opportunity for Vick. She brought a sultry, sassy persona to the routine and had great energy, but struggled to keep up with Graziano’s fast-paced choreography. There were a couple of stumbles, her legs were bent throughout and it lacked hip action. Not a good routine for her and she could well find herself in the dance-off.
The comments: Darcey thought Vick went for it and was incredibly sexy, but it needed consistent straight legs and didn’t quite come together. Shirley said it lacked body action and took too long to get going. Alfonso enjoyed it despite the technical issues and praised Vick for doing her own thing, whilst Craig wanted to love it but said it was a technical disaster.
The score: 4, 6, 4, 6 – 20 out of 40
Kate Silverton and Aljaž Škorjanec
Kate ran into difficulty with her Samba last week, but could her and Aljaz’s Viennese Waltz to Juliet Roberts’ Finally Mine give her a boost up the leaderboard? In training Kate spoke about her confidence being knocked and the importance of getting into character for her dances, as well as the challenging footwork of the routine.
The dance: Kate had lovely flow throughout the dance and I loved the romantic quality she brought to it, as well as the storytelling and sweet ending. However, there was a bit of gapping in hold and she looked a little unsteady on occasion. Whilst she’s not quite back to her best, it’s an improvement on last week and should see her safely through.
The comments: Shirley thought Kate looked a little bit lost at the start, but she had a beautiful left arm and her frame is improving. Alfonso liked her elegance and connection with Aljaz. Craig found it mediocre and said Kate was capable of more, whilst Darcey praised her quality and sophistication but wanted her to have more feeling in her back.
The score: 6, 6, 6, 8 – 26 out of 40
Danny John-Jules and Amy Dowden
Danny wowed with his Viennese Waltz last week, but could he and Amy go even further with their Jive to Flip, Flop And Fly by Ellis Hall? In training Amy arranged for Danny to go wing-walking and practise the dance in mid-air, in keeping with the flying theme of their routine.
The dance: This is definitely a dance that played to Danny’s strengths. It had tons of energy, plenty of spring, sharp kicks and flicks and was full on fun. I would have liked Danny to point his toes in his kicks more and put a little more weight into his steps as they seemed to lack a bit of power, but otherwise this was a lively routine which showcased him at his best.
The comments: Alfonso thought it Danny was flying and liked his sharp feet and pressing down into the floor. Craig said it was a dance for the final. Darcey stood up and applauded Danny, calling the routine ‘extraordinary’ and praising his precision and stretch. Shirley said Danny broke the seal and it was ‘absolutely amazing’.
The score: 9, 10, 9, 9 – 37 out of 40
Faye Tozer and Giovanni Pernice
Faye delivered a gorgeous, sensual Rumba last week, and now she had a chance to show off her elegant side as she and Giovanni performed a Foxtrot to Bruno Mars’ Just The Way You Are. In training Faye and Giovanni visited the Northern Spire bridge where they practised a bit of their routine, whilst Faye also spoke about the challenge of the footwork and rise and fall of the dance.
The dance: Faye started off the dance with some balletic opening moves before getting into Ballroom hold. She had lovely arm movement throughout and great flow across the floor, with nice rise and fall, and a really expressive quality to her movement. For me it felt more like an American Smooth than a Foxtrot and I would have liked a bit more of a classic dance, but overall it was a charming and romantic routine.
The comments: Craig said Faye had a wobble early on but liked the side-by-side section, and the whole thing was ‘spectacular’. Darcey praised Faye’s natural quality and elegance in hold, as well as her ‘beautiful’ top line and control. Shirley liked her heel turn and said her footwork was decent, but it was a little bumpy in places. Alfonso said it was fantastic and nice to see Faye having fun.
The score: 8, 9, 8, 8 – 33 out of 40
Charles Venn and Karen Clifton
After finding himself in the bottom two again last week and scoring 25 for the last four weeks, Charles needed a big performance to see him safely through. Could his and Karen’s Couple’s Choice – a Street/Commercial routine to Get Up Offa That Thing by James Brown – give them the breakthrough they needed? In training Charles took Karen back to where he grew up in west London and spoke to a group of young people at the Grenfell Community Centre, as well as speaking very movingly about his family.
The dance: Wow! What a revelation from Charles. Dressed in a sharp yellow suit, he brought tons of swagger and flourish to the routine as well as fantastic precision throughout. I loved how in synch he and Karen were and the routine was absolutely stuffed full of tricks, including the splits and leaping over a chair. His solo section on the table was brilliant too. It’s a massive improvement for him and showed that he’s got potential to go a lot further in this competition.
The comments: Darcey loved Charles’ command and the control in his isolations, whilst Shirley said it was ‘suave, chill, funky and fresh’. Alfonso said Charles was ‘killing it’, particularly praising the choreography with the chairs, and that he was a contender. Craig thought he was slightly late on the handkerchief move but said that if Charles was in the dance-off again he felt sorry for whoever he was up against.
The score: 9, 9, 9, 9 – 36 out of 40
The leaderboard for the evening was:
Danny John-Jules and Amy Dowden – 37
Ashley Roberts and Pasha Kovalev – 36
Charles Venn and Karen Clifton – 36
Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton – 33
Faye Tozer and Giovanni Pernice – 33
Graeme Swann and Oti Mabuse – 29
Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell – 29
Kate Silverton and Aljaž Škorjanec – 26
Dr Ranj Singh and Janette Manrara – 25
Lauren Steadman and AJ Pritchard – 24
Seann Walsh and Katya Jones – 24
Vick Hope and Graziano Di Prima – 20
Strictly Come Dancing 2018 continues on Sunday at 7.45pm on BBC One. Take a look at all the couples in rehearsal earlier today in our gallery below: