We’re over halfway through the contest and only the great and the pretty good have made it all the way to the Wembley special. As that glitter ball comes into sight, Radio Times asks comedian and It Takes Two guest Miranda, judge Craig and ex-contestant Ann just who’s got it in them to go the distance.
Holly and Artem (and Brendan)
Miranda: Holly Valance is the declared sexpot of the competition. There’s always one. She is a natural dancer, but hasn’t rocked my boat yet. But there’s time. Go for it, Holly — let go, keep your eyes up and get to the final. (I’m sounding like a judge now — love it.)
Craig: She needs a kick up the bottom and to be pushed harder. She has a very laidback attitude to the whole thing, but if she came out with a bit more enthusiasm and energy, she could be great.
Ann: Maybe winner material. Perhaps. Not sure. Artem knows how to train winners. Hopefully his injury won’t affect Holly too much.
Russell and Flavia
Miranda: Well, what can I say? The adorable, cheeky, mincing chappy that we’ve all taken to our hearts. Russell Grant is the perfect Strictly contestant. His joy and showmanship mean most of us fans would happily pay to see that 90-second dance. It’s worth the licence fee alone. Plus, it’s an EXCELLENT partnership. Yes, I just used capitals. Flavia’s my favourite female professional dancer.
Craig: He loves people, he loves life, he loves dancing, everything is positive, positive, positive — I’m just waiting for it all to implode. Beneath all that positivity I’m sure there is a depressed man — I just want to be there when it all finally comes out.
Ann: The best pantomime act in years. The judges’ scores are no more relevant than they were for Anton and me.
Jason and Kristina
Miranda: I thought I was going to be all about Jason Donovan and, although I’ll always carry a torch for him (I used to fancy Scott in Neighbours big time), I’m afraid he has slightly let me down. The celebratory fist punch after his first dance isn’t acceptable in British culture. I imagine he’s already planning his “I can’t believe I’ve won the Glitterball” speech.
Craig: He is the antithesis of Holly and is manic about the show. He puts so much pressure on himself — I suspect because naturally he’s not that gifted a dancer. He could burn out before the final — he just doesn’t stop rehearsing.
Ann: The frontrunners and deservedly so, but they should watch for a dark horse making a late run on the outside.
Harry and Aliona
Miranda: Harry Judd — I am all about you. And not only because I love the McFly song of that name. But you can dance, boy. Don’t tell anyone, but I watched your Grease routine three times.
Craig: Dare I say it, he was a bit dull at the beginning — there was nothing going on behind the eyes, it seemed as if he’d had a personality bypass — but he has come on in leaps, technically and emotionally.
Ann: McFlew through earlier rounds but needs that something extra before he can lift the Glitterball.
Chelsee and Pasha
Miranda: Aaah, the little pixie of the show. And as Len says — the dark horse. Chelsee Healey can really dance, but has a childlike lack of concentration. Apparently Pasha had to confiscate her phone because, like a true member of the “yoot”, she is addicted to texting. So when she focuses she will be brillo pads (posh speak for brilliant).
Craig: She has a natural gift for rhythm and timing and an amazing brain that can absorb a lot of information quickly. The dance will get her through, as the Waterloo Road viewers aren’t going to be enough — I have never seen the show, obviously.
Ann: If there is any justice this couple will be in the final. Chelsee has danced her heart out from the very first waltz, but she can be distracted. Cover up, Chelsee, and worry about what your feet are doing rather than your upper circumference.
Alex and James
Miranda: Holly is the declared sexpot. But how amazing does Alex Jones look? Those trousery things she wore for her rumba — wowzers. And we all warm to the shy, nervy one and she is the shakiest of them all. Bless her. She is MY dark horse and I want her in the final. Go Alex, go!
Craig: She has gained a bit more confidence, but she needs to be more technical and free herself up a bit more emotionally.
Ann: The dark horse? Alex has courage, as shown by that prolonged solo piece. It needs only a sudden rush of confidence for her to take the nation by storm.
Anita and Robin
Miranda: Anita Dobson’s my favourite. She’s inspirational, and keeps me going in Pilates: I can now do a plank for a whole minute — get in!
Craig: She’s brilliant at selling the dance and acting her part, but her technical ability’s poor.
Ann: Being the oldie seems to have made Anita timid.
Robbie and Ola
Miranda: I understand Robbie was a bad, bad boy, football-wise. Apparently that involves being given coloured cards, which I think sounds rather lovely — as if it’s your birthday. Well, how nice to see a bad butch boy don a sequin. Respect!
Craig: He was on the verge of tears when I gave him a two. Maybe he should consider pills.
Ann: He seems a bit too pleased with himself.
The verdict on those we loved – and lost
Audley and Natalie
Miranda: All we talk about are his feet. “Hasn’t he got big feet?” “Size 17, you know.” But for someone so big (and I mean that as a compliment) he manages to be surprisingly light on his feet.
Craig: He is physically challenged and you can see why he is never going to be good at Latin.
Ann: Audley’s main problem is that he is simply too big. He looks like an amiable bear pirouetting on a stool that’s a bit too small for it.
Edwina and Vincent
Miranda: I wish Vincent hadn’t left first, he’s my favourite male dancer. His tango
with Flavia was fab-u-lous. I’ve suggested that we dance together — him in a dress, me in a tux. You heard it here first.
Craig: She was trying too hard to be sexy. All that prowling was disturbing.
Ann: Edwina’s saucy talk wouldn’t have appealed to the family audience. And showing her knickers like a naughty five-year-old wasn’t her brightest idea.
Rory and Erin
Miranda: Well firstly hooray for a comedian doing the show. We’re notoriously a bit of a shy, grumpy bunch. Not the best on the dance floor, but wow, he could ballroom (unfortunately no comedian can cha-cha-cha).
Craig: I got a bit sick of Rory’s impressions backstage. When he was nervous, it was just one impression after another.
Ann: Rory should have answered each judge in their own voice — people would have kept him in just to see it.
Nancy and Anton
Miranda: I’m pretty sure she actually thought she was great. And let’s be honest, we all find self-belief hilarious. I believe I’m right in saying she said, “I am the most beautiful woman I know.” Craig: Anton was trying to make a comedy act out of her, but it was too forced. The rumba was the final nail in the coffin — sorry, I had to!
Ann: I suspect the coffin moment may become a Strictly legend. When will they give Anton a decent dancer?
Lulu and Brendan
Miranda: I loved Lulu! She was what could be described as a scatty dancer. All over the shop! But she loved it and so did I. I was lucky enough to interview her for the Radio 2 breakfast show and she was a hoot.
Craig: I was surprised at how little she could dance. Lots of energy but it wasn’t focused.
Ann: I began voting for her as soon as Anton was eliminated. And that flying routine was superb — but you can only fly once.
Dan and Katya
Miranda: I have made it clear that Dan should be my husband. Miranda Lobb. Sounds quite nice, don’t you think? But sorry, Dan, I need a man who can dance.
Craig: He may have come across as aloof but he cared a great deal and would get very upset with me over his marks after the show in the bar. Mediocrity doesn’t prevail.
Ann: There’s no good reason why he went out so early, but a fanbase matters: Dan’s was less defined than some others’.