Graeme Swann has become the ninth celebrity to be eliminated from Strictly Come Dancing 2018, after the cricketer faced off with popstar Ashley Roberts in the dreaded dance-off.
Following a week of some exciting performances and a Lindy-Hop-A-Thon that included some technical difficulties, the judges’ scores and the audience vote were combined to decide the lowest-scoring couples that would face the dance off – and it was up to Graeme and Ashley to face the music, with high-scorer Ashley’s placement in the bottom two a particular surprise.
In the dance-off Graeme and his partner Oti Mabuse performed their Quickstep to Sing Sing Sing by The Andrews Sisters, while Ashley and her partner Pasha Kovalev performed their Samba to Arrow’s Hot Hot Hot.
And when it came to the judges’ verdict it was a unaminous victory for Ashley and Pasha, who had secured the first 40 of the series in the previous week’s competition.
“For me it’s a no brainer and the couple I’d like to save [are] Ashley and Pasha,” Craig Revel Horwood said.
“The couple I would like to save based on this dance is the more technically efficient performance and that was Ashley and Pasha,” added Darcey Bussell.
Bruno Tonioli, meanwhile, was even more emphatic with his decision.
“No disrespect but it’s evident,” he said.
“Overall much much stronger on every level, come on, it’s Ashley. Ashley and Pasha.”
Head judge Shirley Ballas didn’t need to cast her deciding vote, but she confirmed she also would have voted for Ashley and Pasha.
“I’d have voted for Ashley and Pasha as well,” Graeme said after the result.
“I can’t quite believe I was put against them to be honest but this whole journey I’ve got to say, before I say gloating things about Oti that I’m obviously going to. This show and what you’ve got is something special and thank you for letting me be a part of it.
“Secretly I’ve had 25 years of ballroom experience but I kept that to myself!” he joked.
“No, I was a novice coming in to this. This woman Oti is, this girl sorry, she’s not old enough to be a woman obviously has just made me fall in love with this whole dance nonsense, that I thought it was before.
“I absolutely adore you for that, I’ll never forget everything you taught and shouted at me for weeks and weeks. My fingers will never be open in ballroom and that’s for you Craig, every week, that’s for you.
“I’ve just had the best of times I’ve had the worst of times, it’s been very hard missing the kids and the wife. Blackpool I will never forget, this whole experience I will never forget and Oti I will never forget you, you absolute hero.
“To be honest let’s face it when you get down to the nitty gritty of this competition, I was on borrowed time, unless I learnt to fly or something I wasn’t going to past here,” he concluded graciously.
“I’ve had the best season of my entire career on Strictly,” said his partner Oti.
“I have never laughed so much, I’ve never been so angry so much. I have the best friend in you. We might not have been the best dancers but you have the spirit of Strictly.
“The show is such a nice family to be a part of the judges are amazing, the pros and the celebs are such a great support because they are lovely so thank you guys.”
Following Graeme’s elimination just seven couples now remain, to compete in next Saturday’s live show to hope they can once again avoid his fate.
Graeme and Oti, meanwhile, will have their first post-elimination interview on spin-off series Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two on Monday 26th November at 6.30pm on BBC2.
Strictly Come Dancing continues on Saturday 1st December at 6.50pm