Joanne Clifton: Chizzy didn’t deserve to be the first to leave Strictly Come Dancing

In her weekly blog for RadioTimes.com, Joanne Clifton reveals who she thinks could win and which celebrity has improved the most from week one

Strictly jo clifton

It was another good week on Strictly Come Dancing, but as it was the first elimination you saw some of the nerves coming through in certain couples.

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Simon Rimmer went wrong a tiny bit at the end of his routine, but I’ve been talking to some of the pros since Saturday night and they said that they also did things wrong, even though it wasn’t really noticeable on TV!

But the nerves really got to Charlotte Hawkins – she looked amazing and so beautiful – but she messed up a little bit right at the beginning which messed her up for the rest of the routine. I think she’s more of a Ballroom girl, which is absolutely fine because I’m a Ballroom girl, too! But she really does need to work on the Latin and also the nerves, bless her.

When it comes to what her partner Brendan Cole said afterwards, I mean it wouldn’t be nice to be laughed at – I wouldn’t like it either. Perhaps Brendan shouldn’t have put that step in if that was all she was thinking about. It is a difficult step for us pros to do – let alone beginners on the second week! For Charlotte, it was just a really bad night and at the end, she and Rev. Richard Coles were the bottom two celebrities on the leaderboard. I think based on their performances, they should have been there.

Chizzy Akudolu, who was the first one to be eliminated, wasn’t the worst dancer and she didn’t deserve to go. There were a few couples who were worse than her on the night so I’m going to say she wasn’t the right one to leave and if I was on the judging panel, I would’ve probably saved her. I love Brian Conley – he put a lot of effort into it – but they both made mistakes. Chizzy with timing, and Brian technically had a lot of things wrong.

It’s so tricky to pick a favourite from this week, but I think my three were Debbie McGee, Alexandra Burke and Jonnie Peacock.

As I wrote last week, Debbie is older and her ballet training was a long time ago. Plus it’s a completely different style of dance, so for her to still be able to come out and dance like this is brilliant. Being at the top of the leaderboard after both weeks of dancing was well-deserved. She was stunning.

A lot of the technical things were there, her shape, she was graceful, she flowed through the music… She’s going to be one to watch, that one. She’s going to be right up there. Debbie could definitely win!

And Jonnie was incredible. I mean, he was just absolutely out of this world. I can’t believe he danced a Jive like that on the blade! You almost forgot that he had the blade on because he was dancing it so well. That choreography that Oti Mabuse did – it wasn’t easy. It was a full-on, competitive dancer routine and he pulled it off.

And I think Alexandra deserved all 9s from all the judges. I wasn’t in the studio but I watched her dance on my phone and as soon as the music kicked in and she did this shape, I actually went ‘Oh!’ out loud! That was my reaction to it. It was just phenomenal!

That’s the way to do Strictly. You’ve got to come out, you’ve got to give it your all. Alexandra had focus, she put energy and precision and intent into every single movement that she did. So it was very, very exciting and I think she deserves all the marks that she got. If anything, she just needs to turn those feet out for the Latin dances in the future. That’s the only thing!

Ruth Langsford had definitely improved this week. She came out and was like ‘yeah, I’ve got this!’. She had the wig on – maybe that made her feel confident? I don’t know! – but she came out, she did the routine, got everything right and did it really, really well. She even got the swivel which everybody looks for in Charleston. Craig said something about her being lacklusture but I don’t agree. She chose to do the Charleston in that laid-back style. You don’t have to go full out all the time! I’m very excited to see Ruth’s journey, actually, because I fully believe that the first week she was nervous rather than anything else.

I’m touring with Flashdance at the moment and it’s been another amazing week. We’ve got the press night on Tuesday and yesterday I signed a contract to do Flashdance for a whole year – I will be doing all the dates in 2018 and also Ben Adams and I might be bringing out one of the songs from the musical! We’ve recorded it already and we’re going to do a little video. I am absolutely living a dream right now!

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Strictly Come Dancing will return on Saturday 23rd September on BBC1. Joanne Clifton currently stars in Flashdance – The Musical in theatres across the UK. Visit the website for full details of tour venues and dates.