A glance at the Strictly Come Dancing leaderboard reveals what an interesting night our five semi-finalists had.
By the end of the evening, only one mark separated our top three contestants, with both Faye Tozer and Ashley Roberts scoring an impressive 76 points – and Stacey Dooley snapping at their heels with 75.
On the other hand, it was a surprisingly bad night for Strictly favourite Joe Sugg. His disappointing dances left him with a score of just 59, only five marks higher than Lauren Steadman who struggled to pull off the Samba.
So what exactly happened? Here are all the big talking points from the Strictly Come Dancing 2018 semi-final:
A terrible week for Joe Sugg
Poor Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell! They just couldn’t seem to make it work on the dance floor this week – and the judges’ scores were brutal.
The first of their two dances for the evening was a Viennese Waltz, a ballroom dance which should have been right up Joe’s street. Unfortunately he rose to the occasion a little too much, with Craig Revel Horwood slamming him for “way too much rise and fall.” Darcey Bussell added: “It wasn’t bad – it just wasn’t what we expect from you.”
Could he pull it back with his second dance? Unfortunately not. A Peaky Blinders-style Argentine Tango was “too stompy” for Craig, and the judges reckoned he wasn’t leading his partner at all. “You’re very lucky because Dianne is so on her balance… she achieved a lot of the moves without you,” Darcey told him. “Not a bad effort. Not good though.”
Still, perhaps the idea that Joe is in danger of elimination will rally his fans to save him in the public vote? And he does have the support of Matthew Bourne himself…
Stacey Dooley stepped up
You can see why Stacey Dooley was so excited to dance the Charleston, because it suited her down to the ground. It also earned her an almost-perfect score of 39.
“Talk about giving it welly! She bursts into action like a sparkling firecracker!” said Bruno Tonioli, who was out of his chair so much on Saturday night that producers might as well have taken it away and put it into storage. “It was 100% authentic 1920s flapper style Charleston. You looked and behaved like the spirit of the roaring 20s.”
A wonderful Viennese Waltz followed, although with a slight sour note when Craig accused Stacey and pro partner Kevin Clifton of “cheating a little bit.” Kevin made this face:
Craig’s point was that the Viennese Waltz is meant to have LOTS and LOTS of spins, but this routine – set to Cilla Black’s You’re My World – went pretty light on spinning in the first half, so Stacey didn’t build up the usual level of dizziness you’d expect.
Still, Bruno Tonioli loved it, saying: “It’s so wonderful watching you… I’m telling you, whilst you got in hold, exquisite… the sky’s the limit.”
A brilliant week for Faye Tozer
Faye Tozer and Giovanni Pernice did so well that Darcey called their Samba a “masterclass.”
“I was so impressed, it was a joy to watch,” she told them. “It is so difficult and you did a really, really wonderful performance. I loved it.”
“I could party all night, and I think the nation will agree,” said Bruno, although clearly Faye wasn’t up for continuing the party – because she was officially DONE with the Samba, as she told Claudia Winkleman.
Securing her space joint-top of the leaderboard, Faye then closed the show with an extremely excellent Argentine Tango. “Oh my goodness, the intense drama!” said Darcey, staring down Craig when he found a little “clumsy moment” to criticise. She added: “The articulation of every tiny movement it was scrummy… I have to compliment also Giovanni, because your passionate partnering gave her the freedom to express.”
“Giovanni, I am totally in love – with her feet,” said Shirley.
Ashley Roberts was great – and Pasha confessed
The problem with Ashley Roberts is that she’s just too good. Her background as a pop star and performer made her an extremely strong dancer from week one, but she has struggled to win public support. In fact, she is the only one of the five semi-finalists to have ever been in the dance-off, and she’s been in it twice so far.
Her semi-final Paso Doble earned some criticism from the judges who found it “quite busy and frantic” despite the “passion” and “ferocity” – but to pro partner Pasha Kovalev’s credit, he took responsibility for the “little wobble” identified by Craig.
“It wasn’t Ashley’s fault… it was me,” he said, later adding: “I was holding on to Ashley to save it, thank you Ashley for saving it.”
Bruno was impressed, saying: “I praise you for taking responsibility for that, because usually you never, ever, ever miss a step.”
Ashley and Pasha followed that up with an American Smooth that earned a perfect score of 40. Shirley called it “absolutely stunning on every level,” while Craig expressed his approval by keeping quiet and simply clapping.
Lauren Steadman is in danger
Lauren Steadman and AJ Pritchard have been languishing around the bottom of the leaderboard for a while now, and that’s where they ended up by the end of the semi-final.
They got off to a positive start with a Tango that scored 31 points. “That was your most grown up and mature performance to date,” Bruno told them.
But then came the Samba, and things went very wrong indeed. “You got on the wrong foot… you got on the wrong foot again… this was definitely not your best dance, I’m so sorry,” said Shirley.
“I really felt for you I really did… my darling it happens to all of us… you got on the wrong foot, you forgot a little bit to the choreography… you got to the end despite it all,” Bruno sympathised.
A score of 23 dragged her back down to the bottom of the leaderboard again.
Huw Edwards was Extremely Serious
After issuing a ‘teaser trailer’ using his classic Huws at Ten pose, Huw Edwards made his Strictly Come Dancing debut to read the terms and conditions with Claudia Winkleman. He milked it for all it was worth – and it was probably the most straight-faced Ts & Cs in Strictly history…
The Strictly Come Dancing final will air on Saturday 15th December on BBC1