The 'Strictly' backlash against 'trained dancers' begins – and even a top

Strictly Come Dancing viewers have begun a backlash against two contestants they feel have an unfair advantage, with even a top choreographer weighing in on the debate.

We’re just one week away from Blackpool and the hallowed Tower Ballroom, so aside from the semi-final, this is the week that’s most disastrous to be voted out on.

However, fans feel some celebrity “amateur dancers” with a huge amount of previous experience have a better chance of getting there, and even famed Swan Lake choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne – an expert in the style Ashley Roberts took on this week – passed comment.

Ashley Roberts, who was in The Pussycat Dolls, and Steps star Faye Tozer have been cleaning up with the judges’ scores each week, getting 39 and 36 respectively tonight, and viewers have started to lose their patience with how tough it is for the genuine amateurs to keep up with them.

Elsewhere, there was mild panic early in the episode when Killing Eve star Jodie Comer, who plays psychopathic serial killer Villanelle, was spotted in the audience.

Everyone wanted to up their game this week to secure a spot on the bus up North, but who gave it their best shot and who looks like they won’t have made the grade?

Kate Silverton and Aljaz Skorjanec

Dance: Quickstep to I Want You to Want Me by Letters to Cleo

What we thought: Kate had a tough time last week, so was doubtless keen to impress tonight, but it wasn’t quite energetic enough for either a Quickstep or an opening number.

She’s got tonnes of fans and had some great comments from the judges so will probably be safe, but from where we were sitting it was nowhere near being up there with the top Quicksteps of the series so far.

What the judges thought: Shirley Ballas said: “From a real laboured Argentine Tango to a very bright, light Quickstep.”

Craig Revel Horwood said: “That’s a bit more like it, darling. You looked confident, you looked comfortable.”

Score: 30

Danny John-Jules and Amy Dowden

Dance: Samba to Feels Like Home by Sigala

What we thought: Much has been made of the pair’s apparent bust-up in training this week, although they’ve both played it down.

You’d never know there’d been a moment’s tension from their smiley, upbeat Samba which was a little OTT but as entertaining as we’ve come to expect from them.

What the judges thought: Craig said: “There was too much energy and I never say that to dancers, but my goodness darling, you need to calm down.”

Darcey Bussell said: “No mistakes, a fabulous amount of dance content, well done Amy, you’ve really worked him hard.”

Score: 27

Ashley Roberts and Pasha Kovalev

Dance: Couple’s Choice – Contemporary to Unsteady by Erich Lee

What we thought: We’re loving the introduction of couple’s choice this year, and respect to Ashley – it would have been so easy for her to go for street and smash it.

She gave a beautifully emotional performance that was dedicated to her late father and it was great to see her in a less constrained style.

What the judges thought: Shirley said: “I think today you spoke for everybody in the country who has ever lost someone they love.”

Bruno Tonioli said: “That was a hauntingly beautiful tribute, danced to perfection. It was flawless.”

Score: 39

Graeme Swann and Oti Mabuse

Dance: Salsa to Follow the Leader by Soca Boys

What we thought: After the untimely exit of Dr Ranj, Graeme is far and away the most entertaining celeb left and we loved everything about this – the outfits, the exercise equipment, the bum wiggling…

Was it any good technically? No idea, and don’t really care, it was the highlight of the episode. Graeme may as well book his Blackpool tickets now.

What the judges thought: Darcey said: “I strangely loved that.”

Bruno said: “You have to release the exercise video – Davina McCall, watch out.”

Score: 31

Faye Tozer and Giovanni Pernice

Dance: Jive to Reet Petite by Jackie Wilson

What we thought: Sweet, sunny and happy, Faye and Giovanni’s Jive was the perfect antidote to a wet weekend in November.

Surely it’s a given that these two will be through to Blackpool.

What the judges thought: Shirley said: “We’re now going into Blackpool week and most people are truly fighting for their position. Change the dynamics a little bit.”

Craig said: “I loved it.”

Score: 36

Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton

Dance: Waltz to Moon River by Audrey Hepburn

What we thought: Ok, we get where the fans are coming from with the Ashley/Faye backlash, because Stacey should be storming to a victory this year.

With absolutely no previous showbiz training, she dances beautifully, improves each week, and is likeable…but how can she ever win against Ashley “39” Roberts?

What the judges thought: Darcey said: “You have this natural quality that keeps it so real.”

Shirley said: “Absolutely lovely, you blow my mind every week.”

Score: 32

Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell

Dance: Samba to MmmBop by Hanson

What we thought: Poor old Joe, tonight’s Samba really wasn’t his thing.

He looked just about as uncomfortable with some of those moves as we felt watching it. Chin up Joe, everyone has one dance they hate.

What the judges thought: Craig said: “That shimmy, darling, could start a tsunami.”

Bruno said: “A pop-sensational, insta-dorable Samba.”

Score: 32

Lauren Steadman and AJ Pritchard

Dance: Viennese Waltz to You Are the Reason by Calum Scott and Leona Lewis

What we thought: Lauren and AJ have to be Strictly’s most adorabe pair this year, and she improves so much every week.

They’re really storming up the outside of the competition and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see them make the semi-final.

What the judges thought: Darcey said: “You are maturing every week into this beautiful, confident dancer.”

Bruno said: “What really inspires me is that you’re learning to love to dance.”

Score: 34

Charles Venn and Karen Clifton

Dance: Charleston to No Diggity by Minimatic

What we thought: Can people please just vote for Charles and Karen this week? There’s no way they deserve their regular spot in the dance off.

Whatever is going wrong for them in the popularity stakes is not at all reflected in the dancing. Also, nice to see someone have a different take on the Charleston to “quirky with mouth open in surprise throughout”.

What the judges thought: Shirley said: “That was a superb ending to a superb night. How you’ve been in the bottom three times and brought yourself back to this – phenomenal.”

Craig said: “I think it was a little bit too controlled and lacked eccentricity.”

Score: 35 – surely enough to stay out of the dance off this time?

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