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Strictly's Ian Waite sad to see Tom Fletcher go as he shares advice ahead of final

RadioTimes.com columnist Ian Waite on Tom Fletcher's Strictly exit and Cynthia Erivo's panel debut.

Ian Waite Strictly Column
Published: Monday, 22nd November 2021 at 4:33 pm

It was a brilliant Musicals Week on Strictly Come Dancing this weekend, especially for Tilly Ramsay who earned a perfect Strictly score after twice competing in dance-off.

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Unfortunately, however, it was the end of the road for Tom Fletcher, who became the eighth contestant to be eliminated from Strictly - something which didn't sit right with many fans.

In a RadioTimes.com poll, 67 per cent of fans said the wrong person went home as Tom Fletcher exited the series.

Here, our columnist and former Strictly pro Ian Waite gives his thoughts on Saturday night's show, Tom's exit and shares some advice for the contestants as we approach the Strictly Come Dancing final.

Ian on Saturday's show

Musicals Week had a fantabulous, cabaret opening to the show from all our wonderful pros. Unfortunately, Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood tested positive for COVID-19, so replacing him this week was musical theatre legend Cynthia Erivo! She was a fantastic addition to the judging panel and her experience in musical theatre was perfect for that week. I think that she fitted in and she gave us a lot of sort of outside knowledge that we wouldn't necessarily have. Cynthia used sign language to communicate with Rose, which shows that she does her homework and she wants to do a good job. I was really impressed with the fact that she learned sign language to express what she was trying to say to Rose.

Cynthia Erivo performs sign language on Strictly Come Dancing

Cynthia Erivo performs sign language on Strictly Come Dancing

How did the Strictly couples do this week?

  • AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington - They performed a Sound of Music-themed dance to Edelweiss, which had beautiful, sublime footwork. A little more shaping and drive on count one would have made it perfect. For me, she's still the best all round dancer for me.
  • Rhys Stephenson and Nancy Xu – Wow! The energy was on another scale, which is exactly what we need for the Jive. On the balls of the feet it was perfect but sadly, they turned inwards and on the flicks and kicks. Footloose is one of my favourite songs of all time, but Rhys was sometimes ahead of the music sadly.
  • Tom Fletcher and Amy Dowden – They danced to On My Own from Le Mis, which is a beautiful piece of music. Despite the high quality of technique, the expression through the movements were a bit predictable, which made me think there was something missing. The expression through the movements were a bit predictable, which left me feeling there was something missing. Together.
  • Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice – Frozen is my favourite musical, having recently been to see it in the West End. Rose had great characterisation and very good body contact throughout. It wasn't Rose's best ballroom dance, but still brilliant.
  • John Whaite and Johannes Radebe – John is such a natural dancer and the two of them together are so strong and dynamic. I feel very relaxed when I've watched them as it looks so easy.
  • Tilly Ramsay and Nikita Kuzmin – Matilda was the perfect musical for Tilly. The attitude from beginning to the end was amazing for me. This dance was her best so far.
  • Dan Walker and Nadiya Bychkova – I'll be honest, I didn't think this was going to be very good. But I was pleasantly surprised. This was possibly his best dance so far. Dan isn't a natural dancer, but he didn't miss a beat. I'm very proud to see him improve so much.

Strictly High of The Week

"I have to say my Strictly highlight of the week was the wonderful Wicked group dance at the beginning of the result show. In a word it was spectacular. Led by Luba [Mushtuk] and Katya [Jones], this performance transported me to another world!"

Strictly Low of The Week

I didn't really have a low this week, to be honest. I love musicals - it's my favourite! Maybe Tom leaving. I was sad to see Tom go because I thought he'd be a potential finalist.

Tom Fletcher and Amy Dowden dance during Strictly's Musicals Week

Tom Fletcher and Amy Dowden dance during Strictly's Musicals Week

Ian’s Top Tip

"I would say: expression, expression, expression! Start to express your emotions through your face and through your body because this is going to come across to the judges and to the people at home!"

Ian answers...

Tilly scored a perfect 40 this week, after being in the dance-off twice - were you surprised by this score?

I thought this was absolutely perfect for her. It just suited them as a couple and it was the right genre. It was obviously couple's choice, so they got to do whatever they wanted to do and you know, I felt watching them that I was actually in that musical, watching every step. I was totally convinced and the technique was great also. So for me, I'm not surprised it got four 10s. This was the perfect dance for them to get four 10s, because it was the perfect match!

Did you expect to see Rhys in the bottom two, considering how well he's been doing recently?

No, I didn't expect to see them in the bottom two, but I did think that some of the technique needs work. I do always feel like that with Rhys that he's full of energy, but it's controlling and harnessing that energy and creating the perfect technique is always a difficult thing with him. I think in the dance-off it was very difficult to compare such different genres of dance - Rhys and Nancy with a high energy jive and Tom and Amy with an emotional lyrical contemporary number. For me Rhys and Nancy had the edge, power and determination.

As we get closer to the final, do you have any predictions, and who do you think needs to brush up?

Well, you know I'm a massive fan of Rose. I think she's so endearing and for me, she'll definitely be in the final. I love her relationship with Giovanni. I think they have a really special bond and the way they communicate is really lovely to watch. I think also John and Johannes are a great team. I do think that John is sort of coasting a little bit at the moment and I’d like to see him push himself out of his boundaries and see him out of his comfort zone if you'd like. Also, AJ - just technically she's so good. She's been taught so well and she's just gorgeous to watch, so for me she’s one to look out for. The ones who need to pick it up, it's difficult because they change weekly, so I would have said Dan, but Dan had his best dance this week and I would have said Tilly, but she had her best dance this week. So it's very difficult to say. They are all stepping up to the plate to keep themselves in so it's great to see.

Waite's Week

"So I'm in the last week of my tour for 2021 - The Ballroom Boys with Vincent Simone, and it's been an absolutely wonderful seven weeks on tour. We've done over over 50 shows and we've got another 50 shows next year starting in April. But it's been great to see all the wonderful audiences around the country and it's just been a pleasure to work with Vincent again, who is my gorgeous friend.

"We try and go out before we do the last show for a meal together with the whole cast. Later this week, I'll just walk the dogs and I'm looking forward to December, to start getting Christmassy again. I love it when the decorations go up. I can't wait!"

Strictly Come Dancing airs every weekend on BBC One. Want something else to watch? Check out our full TV Guide or visit our Entertainment hub for the latest news. 

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Ian Waite is currently on tour. Visit theballroomboys.com for tickets. 

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