The Glitterball Trophy is so close that the four remaining celebrities can almost touch it – but first, they have to get through to the final.
Ore Oduba, Claudia Fragapane, Danny Mac and Louise Redknapp each tackled two dances in Saturday’s semi-final show, from Quicksteps to American Smooths. Ore wowed with his intense and “mesmerising” Argentine Tango, while Claudia languished at the bottom leader board, dragged down by a Rumba that lacked an emotional connection.
Catch up on everything that happened with our live-blog, below:
8.10pm The leader board, as it stands:
8.01pm Darcey has nothing but praise for Ore, while Len points out: “You’ve got no dance experience. You’re a sports broadcaster, and you come out and dance with such precision!”
Bruno praises his “mesmerising” and “outstanding” performance, explaining. “I held my breath all the way through.”
Ever the critic Craig points out he lost balance on one of the lunges (no 10 from him, then), but breaks character to tell Ore and Jo that they should be so proud of themselves.
9,10,10,10 – his highest score since week four. Here come the waterworks…
8pm Last up are Ore and Joanne, performing a dramatic Argentine Tango to Can’t Get You Out of My Head by Kylie Minogue. It’s sharp, it’s interesting – but what will the judges say?
7.53pm “You danced like you were dancing for your life. Brilliant,” says Craig. Darcey can only find “tiny moments where there was slight gapping,” complaining when the audience boos: “We’re being picky here! This is the semi-final!”
Len says she’s gone from “gymnastic to fantastic”, while Bruno is a fan of her “fab-u-lous” turns with sways in.
“I’m so proud of you,” says Tess in the most patronising way possible, leaning down to Claudia’s level and waving her fingers in her face.
7.52pm Time for the second Quickstep of the night, and it involves a lot less leather than Ore’s. Claudia and AJ perform a lovely old-fashioned number to When You’re Smiling by Andy Williams, complete with dramatic floor-slide at the end.
7.47pm Bruno is on his feet again. “I was totally and completely swept away by the motion and emotion of this dance… it really was exquisite storytelling,” he enthuses.
Craig delivers his first non-critical verdict of the night: “That was right up my street. I loved it.”
Darcey’s found one awkward lift which might knock a point off her score, but she’s still stunned. And Len makes up with his fellow judge: “On that dance, I’ve got to agree with Craig now. That is right up my alley.”
Craig’s first 10 of the night! 9 from Darcey, 10 from Len, 10 from Bruno.
7.43pm Len calls Danny the “one to beat”, while Craig labels him “a bit of a Gene Kelly” (don’t tell Ore after his Singin’ In The Rain dance). He’s certainly mesmerising as he performs a romantic American Smooth to Misty Blue by Dorothy Moore – with a JAW DROPPING leap at the end as Oti launches herself from a platform and into his arms.
7.35pm Len loves the content-packed Samba, especially the “Maypole” move. Bruno is also loving the “incredible amount of content… I really have to appreciate the fact that you stacked this dance with everything you could possibly put in.”
Craig has his niggles but calls it a “vivacious performance”.
Darcey teases: “I did notice you were flirting just a little bit with your partner, which was nice.” Jamie Redknapp, in the audience, looks confused about whether this is something he should be cheering about.
7.35pm It’s hard to follow on from Danny’s perfect-scoring Samba, but Louise makes an impressive attempt with her performance to Brazil by Thiago Thomé.
7.32pm Claudia has finally broken Tess. This time the be-fringed Strictly presenter has glued a fishing pole to her hand for the gag, but Tess can’t stop giggling when she falls forward, forcing the cameras to pan out to Claudia lying awkwardly on a crash mat.
8 (WHAT?), 10, 10, 10. Up at the top of the leaderboard – but that could all still change.
7.23pm Ore is hoping to Quickstep his way to the top of the leaderboard, dancing to Are You Gonna Be My Girl? by Jet. It should be enough to make his parents proud (they’ve flown in from Nigeria especially).
7.17pm The judges are not wholly convinced by Claudia’s connection to the dance. As a gymnast she can do the moves – but can she really and truly dance?
Craig tells her: “You’re hitting all the positions but I felt it was lacking in chemistry.” But he adds: “You really, truly are wonderful darling.”
Darcey explains: “It’s not just doing the actions that you’re asked of, it’s about having the emotional connection with the dance.”
But there is one upside from Len: “Well you’re dressed as my favourite quality street, and I tell you what, that was a quality Rumba.”
7.14pm Did you know the Rumba is now the only dance style that has never earned a 40 in the entire history of Strictly Come Dancing? We didn’t, until we had a look at the stats. Will Claudia and AJ make Strictly history with their Rumba to Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis?
7.10pm Bruno calls the whole thing “naughty”. Craig is more of a skeptic: “It lacked, for me, figure eight rotation… that really was the only thing missing.” But the lifts? “Ah-may-zing”.
Darcey calls Danny’s performance slightly “tentative”, asking for more “attitude”. Meanwhile Bruno has fallen off his chair (he’s been saving it up, it’s the first time this series). “It is all personal,” Darcey clarifies.
Len compares the dance to his breakfast porridge: “Tasty, satisfying, with a bit of Oti flavour.” Groan.
7.08pm Danny and his professional partner Oti Mabuse perform the Salsa to the track ‘Vivir Mi Vida’ by Marc Anthony – and I do mean perform. Would be incredibly surprised if there were no 10s for this.
7.04pm Oh yes, it’s time for the terms and conditions.
6.59pm Opening the show: Louise Redknapp, dancing the Tango to Glad All Over by the Dave Clark Five with her partner Kevin Clifton. It features a special appearance from a supermarket conveyor belt, with Louise hopping on board for a ride. The audience are merrily clapping along, something which will definitely annoy some fans.
Len gets a little nostalgic, saying: “As Brucie would say, didn’t she do well? “The dance is full of attack. Full of attitude. There was a little incident here…” Aw.
Bruno praises her musicality and says he was “wrongfooted” by the performance which left him “totally surprised and thrilled.”
“I totally love watching you dance,” says Craig. Darcey points out the moment Louise lost her balance, but overall she adores the performance.
6.53pm “Is everybody ready for a double dance off?” asks Tess. We would imagine that the four remaining Strictly stars all turned to each other backstage and wailed “noooooo”
6.45pm Semi-final nerves aren’t stopping the gang from having a good time together…