The semi-final finally arrived at BBC Studios, and Strictly Come Dancing was off for the penultimate episode. But this week it was considerably harder, as the couples had to dance two dances each. With double the amount of steps to learn, some couples standards seemed to slip. After the shock exit of Pixie and Trent last week, perfection was definitely required for the semis.
Top of the leader board this week was Caroline Flack, who seems to be proving that she doesn’t need The Xtra Factor to make her Saturday nights entertaining. She first danced a foxtrot, which the judges thought was good, but they wanted to see her lift her head up from staring at the floor. Finishing on a 35, she then came out and performed a salsa which was full of rhythm, hip action and great armography. With tough cookie judge Craig saying that he ‘thought it was very good’, it seemed inevitable that we might be on course for the first full marks of the series. And we weren’t disappointed. Caroline and Pasha managed the perfect 40 for the semis and topped the leader board.
Not far behind them were Frankie and Kevin, whose rumba to ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ managed to score them 34. Bruno thought that it had an innocence to it, but Craig wanted to see more filth in the dance, considering it was a rumba. Frankie didn’t put a foot wrong and the routine was charming, but different to any rumba seen before on Strictly. With the panel divided on her first dance, she certainly managed to make them change their opinion when she performed an Argentine Tango. It was dramatic, full of kicks and flicks, and there is no wonder she managed a score of 38 for it.
Another surprise of the night was Simon and Kristina. They first danced a samba, but managed to go horribly wrong in the middle of the routine by clashing together and missing their steps. The judges picked up on the party spirit, and they managed a score of 30, but that drastically improved when they finished the night with a foxtrot. It was smooth and effortless, and Simon glided across the floor. He and Kristina were awarded a 38, and mid table.
The Only Way is Essex star Mark Wright danced a Viennese Waltz and rumba this week. The judges thought his waltz was charming, but their opinion on his rumba was split. Craig enjoyed the contemporary feel to it, but Len felt it lacked recognisable rumba and hip action. Mark and Karen scored 33 points for both their dances and finished the night second from the bottom of the board.
The show was opened by Jake and Janette, who danced a cha-cha but only managed a score of 30 points. Jake was criticised for a messy section of the cha-cha, and his hips were too salsa-like, which apparently matters quite a lot. He hoped for a better second dance, but he was criticised again for his Viennese Waltz, which the judges described as being too stiff. Ballroom had never been Jake’s favourite, and he only scored an extra point for his efforts, finishing the night at the bottom of the leader board with 61 points.
This week there was a dance-off shock as Jake and Janette found themselves forced to compete for the first time, against Mark and Karen. Jake’s cha-cha was considerably better the second time round, whilst Mark and Karen danced their rumba to the same standard as before. When it came to it, Craig saved Mark and Karen, whilst Darcey and Bruno chose to save Jake and Janette (probably in the hope of seeing his samba and salsa in the final again), but head judge Len had the deciding vote. In another controversial move, Len chose to save Mark and Karen. Len’s reaction at the end was peculiar as Jake and Janette took to the floor for their final dance, and the head judge hung his head and failed to clap for them. The mind of a judge is a complicated one. So, goodbye Jake, your hip action will go down in Strictly history along with Janette’s brilliant lifts.
The final is on Saturday night and the winner is decided by public vote, which also means that we won’t have to wait until Sunday to see who is crowned this year’s Strictly champion. Money on Caroline to win, anyone?
Strangest Scoring Sequence of the Night: Did anyone else think it was strange that the judges awarded a 7, 8, 9, 10 for Frankie and Kevin’s rumba?
Worst Beard of the Night: Craig, what are you doing to your face? Even Claudia teased the judge for it this week.
Most OTT Reaction to Being in the Final: Take a bow, Kevin ‘from Grimsby’ Clifton. Your screams and knee fall will go down in history.