Joanne Clifton on Strictly’s Blackpool Week: “I wouldn’t have given anyone a ten”

Nobody delivered a perfect dance last weekend, writes Joanne Clifton in her RadioTimes.com Strictly blog

Strictly jo clifton

I may be channelling Craig Revel Horwood – but this week I wouldn’t have given anybody a ten.

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Gemma Atkinson did perform a beautiful American Smooth and I think she deserved to be right up at the top. But for me as a ballroom dancer, she didn’t get her feet closed on her heel turns, and the “slow quick quick” wasn’t smooth enough. So I would have given her a nine, even if both Bruno Tonioli and Shirley Ballas gave her a perfect score.

And then there’s Alexandra Burke, who got three tens. First of all, I absolutely loved Gorka Marquez’s routine: I loved the grandness of it, I loved the style, the era, the music.

Alexandra Burke in Strictly Come Dancing

But if they’re going to have the “ten second rule” for the Quickstep for other people, they have to have it for them as well!  The ten second rule is where you’re only allowed ten seconds out of hold, but they did much longer than that and didn’t get in trouble. It has to be consistent.

The other thing is, I don’t think her frame was amazing. It’s difficult to keep the frame, because it’s a fast dance and you’re jumping around. But she needs to be much further out to the left, and I thought it was a bit of a messy frame. So I would have given it a nine on technique and on the dance itself – and then I would probably have to take off a penalty point for being out of hold.

This also wasn’t a great week for Debbie McGee. Even so, I was surprised she was in the dance off. When I heard, I just thought: “What?!”

This was probably her worst dance. It wasn’t really for her, and in the Samba it’s very easy to look really uncoordinated and quite messy. The Samba rolls were really, really good as the judges said, but I just don’t think she was as amazing as she’s been up until now. Still, I think she’ll come back fighting next week with a different dance.

Debbie McGee in Strictly Come Dancing 2017

In the results show, I do think the judges made the right decision and it was time for Jonnie Peacock to go.

At this stage in the competition you’ve got to pull out the performance side of it, and I have said for quite a while that he doesn’t show the emotion in his face. He needed a lot more of what Alexandra has, that energy and performance side of it.

But having got all the way to Blackpool, Jonnie has just shown that everyone can dance and I think that’s a great thing. This could pave the way for more disabled contestants in future series of Strictly.

Now we’re beyond Blackpool Week, I have to admit I didn’t honestly think Susan Calman would get this far!

BBC Pictures, SL

At the very beginning I saw her perform the group dance for the launch show, and I looked at her and thought, “Oooh, she’s not going to go very far.” And then when she got paired up with Kevin Clifton, I actually said to him: “You’re probably going to get quite an easy series this year! I don’t imagine you’re going to get that far in the competition.”

But she came out and showed us she can actually dance. She’s surprised me and I think she’s surprised quite a few people.

Joe McFadden’s Salsa was great and I think Shirley was right: he’s the “dark horse” of the competition. He started out kind of good-ish, but quietly got better and better. A few little hiccups along the way, but he’s just creeping up, creeping up and I think he might actually win.

Joe McFadden in Strictly Come Dancing

The British public, they love an underdog, don’t they?

So you’ve got the likes of Alexandra who’s absolutely brilliant, she’s amazing, she’s so good. But we’ve seen that from the beginning and people go, “Oh she’ll win because she’s amazing.” Or Debbie, who has been at the top apart from this week. She’s been amazing from the beginning, so I don’t know whether people will vote for that when it actually comes down to it.

Davood Ghadami is another dark horse for me. At the minute my ones to watch would probably be Alex, Debbie, Joe and Davood. They’re my finalists – with Joe being the potential winner.

This week I’ve been ultra-critical like Craig, but perhaps that’s because Craig himself has been showing his support for my new single. He did a show on Radio 2 this week and actually played the song I’ve recorded with my Flashdance co-star Ben Adams, Here and Now – which went straight to number one on the iTunes soundtrack chart.

I couldn’t believe it when I heard it. I was actually in tears, because I didn’t imagine for a minute that my voice would ever be on the radio singing.

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Joanne Clifton currently stars in Flashdance – The Musical in theatres across the UK. Visit the website for full details of tour venues and dates.