Joanne Clifton: Joe McFadden should have topped the Strictly leaderboard ahead of Debbie McGee

In her weekly blog for RadioTimes.com, Joanne Clifton also reveals why Strictly was missing a magic ingredient without Bruno Tonioli

Strictly jo clifton

Strictly Come Dancing this week was very weird without Bruno Tonioli. His energy, funny comments and the way he stands up and throws his hands around – I did miss that a lot, so I’m glad he’s coming back next week. That missing ingredient of fun wasn’t there. Sometimes you don’t really realise that someone brings so much to a show until they’re not there.

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You’ve got Craig Revel Horwood who’s nasty, Shirley Ballas who’s harsh but fair and then you’ve got Darcey who’s lovely. I think you need that bit of craziness in there with Bruno! And having the four different judges with four different personalities brings something else. I didn’t even like when they were reading the scores, with only three of them. Although Craig’s impression of Bruno was amazing. That was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen – he just didn’t care and got so into it!

Craig Bruno Impression Strictly

With the celebrities being marked out of 30, a lot of people had the same scores. Four of them were at the bottom on 16 and four were on 24. That made it interesting because then it was all down to the audience vote.

I thought both Brian Conley and Simon Rimmer were actually better this week, but they were still the right celebrities to be in the dance off.

Simon went for it again and it looked like he was having fun, but Craig was right – he didn’t have the swivel. It’s one of these things that I don’t know if you can teach, though. My former partner Scott Mills didn’t have it either, and I just know it’s really hard. I just don’t think Simon could get his head round it.

Brian was better than usual. He did a good Jive and it was close between them, but Simon did try the swivel in the dance off which is why I think he got through. They’re just not dancers, them two!

Sometimes if you’re in the dance off the week before, people get behind you more because they didn’t expect it. And it wasn’t expected that Davood Ghadami would be in the bottom two last week, so the audience probably thought ‘Oh! Maybe he’s not as safe as we thought he was?’ and they started voting for him. He put a lot into his Jive, but it was a bit slack and heavy-footed for me. And there wasn’t enough retraction for the Jive kicks.

I’m hoping Davood might surprise us, but personally he’s not one of my frontrunners. He needs to up his game as at the moment he’s somewhere in the middle and that’s probably why he ended up in the dance off last week.

Joe McFadden was my frontrunner and favourite from Saturday and really improved the most from the previous week. He fully deserved that 10 from Shirley and I think Joe should’ve been at the top of the leaderboard this week instead of Debbie McGee.

If you take Debbie, there were aspects of her routine which were amazing. Her legs and feet were phenomenal and absolutely out of this world. But if you look at her back, it barely moved and you need to get some movement in those shoulder blades – squeezing out the movements to look soft. So she was good in the bottom half of her body but the top half wasn’t as good.

Whereas with Joe, his performance was very good for a Paso Doble. He looked great in all the positions he did – he even did a double turn and landed on one knee. His whole body looked like he was in it. Katya Jones’s routine was amazing – he showed some incredible lines and shapes in that Paso and he really did pull it off.

I really don’t know why Craig gave him a seven. He was being really, really picky on Saturday – maybe because Bruno wasn’t there so he had more time to speak, but he seemed to have lists for people. ‘This didn’t happen, then this and this didn’t happen’… shut up, Craig!

Obviously the judges love different things and they will look up at different times from writing things down, but a seven?! That Paso was amazing – what was he talking about? He was just jealous because he couldn’t get away with having his chest out like that.

One performance I was very impressed by was Mollie King’s Viennese Waltz – normally I criticise her, and although she got a few steps wrong on the fleckerl and her shoulders came up, I think she had the best frame and her head was absolutely great. I could tell in her face she was really enjoying it. She improved a lot this week.

However Susan Calman’s performance wasn’t as technically good – it wasn’t her best dance, especially after last week when she came out and did that amazing Quickstep. But then again, like I’ve said before, Cha Cha is a really difficult one because of the speed, straightening your legs and moving your hips at the same time. She definitely told the story, but it wasn’t quite as good as usual.

Although Alexandra Burke performed another amazing dance with that Samba, her turned out feet do need working on. Last week she scored 39 and this week she got 23, but maybe that will help her. If you bring someone down after an incredible week, then they realise they have to work on it.

Aston Merrygold, Jonnie Peacock and Gemma Atkinston all scored 24 but I’m going to be very picky with Gemma in particular because I’m behind her and I think she might be able to win it.

I know she got great scores and great comments, but I wanted more from her this week with that Foxtrot. There was a bit of gapping going on – she was concentrating so much on keeping her head up that it was stiff and her eyes were looking up at the ceiling!

And because she was concentrating on it so much, other things went wrong. It wasn’t as good as I was hoping from her – but this is positive criticism in a sense that she was concentrating on being so good that it ruined other stuff!

I’m picking faults with all of them, really, because as you go through the competition you get more critical. Aston is a great dancer and there were moments when his frame looked amazing in that Waltz, but there were moments when it didn’t look so good, and I want him to get that stuff right because I think someone of his level already shouldn’t have these dips.

When it comes to Jonnie, he had a great hold and he did great with the steps and everything, but I do agree with the judges who said he needs more acting in there. He had it in moments where it was starting to come out but sometimes you could just tell he was concentrating on the steps.

Hopefully next week we’ll get more personality coming out, because he is brilliant and he is a contender for the final. But he does need to get that performance side out of him to get there. He needs a bit of what Alexandra’s got.

Halloween Week is always great because it’s when people get dressed up, come out as characters and you see a bit more of that fun side. But it was always my downfall.

I got knocked out on that week with Scott Mills after our Addams Family routine, and last year with Ore Oduba we were the only couple out of all the couples left who looked awful.

Everybody else looked like Halloween scary sexy, but we looked dreadful! I had a wart, fake teeth… I don’t really know what we were supposed to be. Not only that but we messed up a lift and got the lowest score we’d had for weeks.

This week, I’ve recorded a few songs for the Eugenius album – it’s a musical that my Flashdance co-star Ben Adams has written all about comic book characters and superheroes that’s going to be launching in January in London.

We’ve said that maybe we’ll do an album together. We’ll see how our duet of Here and Now from Flashdance goes down and then we’ll see if we can do a musicals album of duets. Then maybe I’ll even do stuff on my own, we’ll see!

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We’ve had another really busy week performing in Liverpool Empire which holds about 2,000 people and then we’ve come to Blackpool and our first show was on Monday in a venue that holds 3,000 people! Plus it’s my birthday on Tuesday! We have shows and are supposed to be in rehearsals but I think we might just go to the Pleasure Beach instead!

Strictly Come Dancing will return on Saturday 28th October on BBC1. Joanne Clifton currently stars in Flashdance – The Musical in theatres across the UK.