It was the Strictly Come Dancing semi-final this weekend, meaning the four remaining celebs in the Strictly Come Dancing 2021 line-up would be performing two routines each for the first time in the series.


After all the Strictly Come Dancing songs and dances were performed, the scores were added up, with AJ Odudu and Rose Ayling-Ellis topping the Strictly Come Dancing leaderboard with an impressive 79 points each.

Unfortunately, this meant that John Whaite and Rhys Stephenson were in third and fourth place, and during Sunday night's results show, they were asked to perform again.

As a result, Rhys Stephenson became the 11th celebrity to be voted out of Strictly 2021, narrowly missing out on the final.

That leaves us with this year's finalists - AJ, Rose and John - who will return to the dance floor on Saturday 18th December, where one of them will lift the Glitterball. But who will it be?

More like this

Here, columnist Ian Waite shares his predictions for the final and reveals what could have kept Rhys and Nancy in the competition.

Ian Waite on the Strictly 2021 semi-final

I was predicting this final way back in the first week. These were the three I was expecting to make the final, so I'm not surprised at all. If you'd have said to me on Week Two, 'Who's your three favourites?' – these would have been my favourite three.

How did the Strictly couples do this week?

  • Rhys Stephenson and Nancy Xu's Tango- In the last two weeks, this boy has improved beyond belief. Wonderful, crisp heel leads and the frame was impeccable. He's the Tango King all the way!
  • AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington Quickstep - This song, Sing, Sing, Sing, brought back so many memories of dancing with Denise Lewis in the Blackpool Tower back in series two. AJ looked a million dollars, and how she kept the speed and the stamina of this Quickstep is beyond me. It was simply stunning!
  • John Whaite and Johannes Radebe Couple's Choice - This dance actually made me cry. I connected with it on such a deep level. It didn't matter to me what the technique was, or it could have had more sweep and flow. As Craig said, it was exactly what a contemporary piece should be. Thought-provoking, lyrical and extremely emotive.
  • Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice Waltz - For me, it was the subtle tone of this dance, which made it so special. Rose has a maturity of poise, which is beyond her years and capability as a beginner dancer. I began to forget about the technique and enjoy her performance.
  • Rhys Stephenson and Nancy Xu's Samba - This was full of rhythm and fabulous content! I felt this was Rhys' chance to show off his flexibility and fluidity. At times, there were empty spaces that could be filled, whether it be choreographically or with body action.
  • AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington's Rumba - Another stunning dance from these two, although I would like to have seen more rotation in the hip to create a more earthy looking rumba.
  • John Whaite and Johannes Radebe's Jive - John has such a natural way of moving his body and it's very muscular and masculine, which I find very appealing. However, for this Jive to look lighter, John needed to pitch his weight further forward to allow the legs to move freely under the body.
  • Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice's Argentine Tango - I loved the complete attention that Rose gave Giovanni throughout this number. Her eyes never left his gaze from start to finish. In places there could have been more swivel. Although it was danced very well, for me, it lacked some passion.

Strictly High of the Week

John and Johannes semi-final dance
John and Johannes semi-final dance BBC

It was definitely John and Johannes' contemporary dance - their Couple's Choice. It made me emotional and made me cry. I think that if you can do that with a dance, then that's the best thing that could ever happen to make people feel great emotions from just your steps and your movements.

Strictly Low of the Week

Strictly Come Dancing 2021 contestant Rhys Stephenson

It's difficult because they were all so good. It's the semi-final, so it's really difficult to say that there was a low for me. I would say Rhys and Nancy's Samba, but only because of the empty spaces in the routine. I think that it could have easily been four 10s with a little bit of tweaking, which is a shame. I think maybe that would have been enough to get them through to the final.

Ian’s Top Tip

Having made the final twice before, when you get to the final, you've done all the hard work. You've mastered all the moves, so just get out there and enjoy yourself. I mean it's lovely to win, but once I was in the final I knew that I was going to dance every dance and that to me, that felt like winning. I think most of them will feel like that. Just enjoy it, because it only happens once for a celebrity!

There was pressure obviously being in the final, but I didn't feel particularly nervous. By then, I think you're very confident about your celebrity and how you're going to go on. It's a big show to be on and then to be in the final and there's a lot of people watching you, so there is a lot of pressure there, but I think you know, especially the pros, they're so used to it now. They're seasoned pros and they're so talented. They'll just be calming their celebrities down and making sure that they're prepared in every aspect.

Ian Answers…

Some fans thought that Rhys and Nancy were the wrong couple to go after the dance-off - what do you think?

I personally think that it was very close. It's really difficult to compare two different dances anyway because they have different techniques, and there will have been things that Rhys did well and John did well, and things Rhys did badly and John did badly, so it's balancing those out. If you have couples who are very equal in the dance-off, then you do have preconceived ideas of who you would like in the final based on their past performances. So, I definitely think the right people are in the final and the right person went through.

Were you happy to see AJ back on top of the leaderboard after scoring lower the week before?

Her two dances were just stunning! They're both difficult dances because a Quickstep has so much content. It has twice as many steps as any other dance because it's so fast, and she kept up with Kai all the way through, which is a really difficult thing to do. And then the Rumba is the opposite because you have a lot less depth in Rumba, but it's very exposing as it's so slow motion. You can literally dissect every movement and every arm and every hip and every leg action. But for me, she did a brilliant job. I thought her legs and feet were beautiful. I thought that she controlled the Rumba so wonderfully. For me, she is the best all round dancer.

Who do you want to win?

I would be happy if any of them won and that's not the PC BBC person talking. I just think they've all been so good and I would be happy if any of them won. I think with the popularity vote and because she's so endearing, for me, it will be Rose. That's my prediction!

Rose and Giovanni
Rose and Giovanni BBC

Waite's Week

This weekend, I was filming for a very famous show called Pointless with Vincent Simone. On Friday, I was doing a gig with my lovely dance partner Faye, who I danced with on my tour. On Saturday, I was on BBC Breakfast, Saturday afternoon I was dancing with Kristina Rihanoff in Leeds, and then on Sunday, we had our FitSteps Christmas party at Blackpool Tower, which is my dance fitness brand. Today (Monday 13th December) I am on It Takes Two live at 6:30pm, so it's been a mammoth weekend. I will definitely be putting my feet up in the week!

Ian's The Ballroom Boys Tour returns in the New Year. It Takes Two is on BBC One Mondays at 6:30pm.


The Strictly Come Dancing final is on Saturday 18th December on BBC One. Looking for something to watch in the meantime, check out our full TV Guide or visit our Entertainment hub for the latest news.