Strictly Come Dancing’s themed weeks are always exciting and Movie Week was brilliant this year. The opening La La Land-themed dance was absolutely phenomenal and I’ve got to congratulate choreographer Jason Gilkison and all the pros for that. I think they did a wonderful job.


When it comes to the celebrities, Joe McFadden is the one who I think has improved the most this week.

It was a massive difference from week two, although dancing Ballroom in hold with Katya Jones he’s got to work on his posture. His bum sticks out a bit and he leans forward. So now he’s got his hold right, he has to get his bum right. Then, I think he’ll be fine!

I know I’ve been nice to Simon Rimmer from the beginning, but I’ve got to be brutal about him for a second. If you’re going to come out dressed like Buzz Lightyear, you have to embrace it and you’ve got to perform. And he didn’t. He looked like he was concentrating so much on technique it was all very calm – I mean, it’s a Quickstep! You’ve got to attack. It was very tame. You could just tell that he was concentrating too much on technique and there was gapping – a lot of gapping!

I know I said he could be the Ore Oduba of the series, but if he doesn’t start embracing the Strictly experience then he’s going to struggle. You have to go for it and you have to perform. I think he’s got to step it up now. He was alright for the first two dances but I was slightly disappointed this week. I’m hoping that he’ll change it up otherwise he might be in danger.

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I can see why he was in the dance off, but he’s not the worst dancer on the show. There were other couples who could’ve been in the bottom two. It’s a difficult one, but he needs to buck up his ideas about performing. However, technically Simon was much better than Rev. Richard Coles, so Richard was always going to go.

Brian Conley is a bit like the opposite of Simon in that he doesn’t concentrate on technique, he just goes for the performance and whatever happens, happens. I did find myself smiling at Brian’s American Smooth but at the same time when he got into hold with Amy Dowden, his footwork was wrong, he was dancing on a straight leg and his hold wasn’t great.

He’s a performer and he could definitely have been in the West End version of The Wizard of Oz. But when it comes down to the dancing, he’s not great. If he wants to get further in this competition, he really has to think of technique – you can only get so far on entertainment alone.

Charlotte Hawkins was, again, very stiff. She looked stunning and in the moments that she’s in hold, she actually looks quite good. She just has to somehow shake off the nerves because she looks beautiful, she has a body to die for. She just needs to go for it – otherwise she’s going to be in danger as well.

With the whole rise and fall thing, from watching it there was a lot of it where there wasn’t rise and fall. But in some bits there was.

I did feel sorry for Charlotte at that moment. Bless her. Her dance partner was arguing with the judges – the judges who give the scores to keep them in! Brendan has got to do exactly what he’s said he’ll do now [Brendan said he was a “bit mouthy” and would take a “step back” in future weeks], otherwise it could be a disaster!

The thing with dancing in a competition and having multiple judges is that one judge can be watching one bit at a different time to everybody else. So it might have been that, unluckily for them, Shirley Ballas was looking at that bit at that moment.

It happened in the Viennese Crosses – Charlotte was trying to get round so she jumped a bit, and that could’ve been passed as rise and fall.

But a lot of it wasn’t rise and fall. I will defend Brendan on that point – it’s just unlucky that Shirley looked up at that moment. I think he has already apologised, but the judges are the ones sitting there and you have to respect their opinions. Shirley is more than qualified but even if you don’t agree, I wouldn’t come straight back like that!

Debbie McGee was very good again. When she did the Viennese Waltz, I commented that she had to improve her frame on her left side and pick her left side up and I still think she needs to work on that more. But she’s very competent, she can really perform and she knows styles. I know they had to take the points off for Giovanni Pernice’s routine, but I thought was a great routine. I really loved it.

Every time Aston Merrygold comes out, he smashes it. Even when he’s dressed as a blue troll! I thought he had amazing hip action and he really understands each dance which is great to see. I’m looking forward to seeing him and Janette Manrara do some Ballroom again to see how that’s coming along because I think he might find that a little bit harder than the Latin.

The reason he didn’t get a 10 for that routine is because if you watch the video back there’s some heel leads that crept in there which he needs to be really careful of. For that reason, I’d also have given him a 9 for that performance. He’s a fantastic dancer but he just has to be really careful that he doesn’t forget those technical little details, because I think it would have got a 10 if he have perfected his heels.

I loved Gemma Atkinson’s Charleston this week – and who else but Aljaž Škorjanec would come out dressed like that? He was loving life looking like a big, fat bear!

Like Shirley, Darcey Bussell and Bruno Tonioli, I’d also have given Gemma an 8. She had the swivel, there were bits of lindy hop in there which looked amazing. She’s really talented and she’s coming up quietly. It’s so funny how you see things change as the weeks go on. I thought Gemma was really good but I didn’t really have her as one of the top celebrities. And now I’m like ‘hang on, she could actually win it!’

Without sounding bias, my favourite couple this week has to be Susan Calman and Kevin Clifton. I know he’s my brother but their Samba was just brilliant!

Susan is a prime example of someone who’s embraced everything after coming in as a complete non-dancer. I watched her back in the launch show and she was absolutely terrible – I’m sorry, but she would probably say that herself!

Now, she’s walking like Beyoncé as if she owns the place! She’s literally the epitome of what Strictly Come Dancing is. It’s the same as Ed Balls last year – the thing with both of them is, look past the entertainment because they’re actually quite good dancers!

I think she’s going to go really far and she’ll at least get to Blackpool. From what I’ve gathered, she works so hard. Sometimes Kevin will say ‘let’s have a break’ and she says no; I think she’s amazing.

We were in Wimbledon with Flashdance this week and we had press night too. Whenever we didn’t have shows I was either filming Strictly's It Takes Two or filming other bits – just lots of filming! So much so my voice is going!

We start performances in Dartford this week, and on Friday I’m going to be filming the music video for my duet with Ben Adams so our single will be coming very soon…


Strictly Come Dancing will return on Saturday October 14 on BBC1. Joanne Clifton currently stars in Flashdance – The Musical in theatres across the UK