Strictly Come Dancing 2016: week seven as it happened

Louise Redknapp stunned, Ed Balls was surprisingly good and Danny Mac earned his first tens

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We are now half-way through Strictly Come Dancing 2016, with just nine couples left. Catch up with everything that happened during week seven..

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8.16pm Despite putting in his best performance yet, Ed is still at the bottom of the leaderboard: the standard is just so high. With Louise at the top closely followed by Danny, here is how it stands:

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8.11pm Giovanni’s not the only one who might be putting his celebrity partner in the shadow tonight.

Len accuses AJ of “overpowering” Claudia by putting the focus on himself – though Craig totally disagrees. Have bad cop and good cop switched places?

Some feedback on shaping… but the dance is a big hit.

8, 8, 8, 9.

8.09pm Claudia Fragapane and AJ Pritchard have what is statistically the best place in the running order: last. A birthday present for AJ, who turns 22 today? They perform a dramatic Paso Doble to Shut Up And Dance by Walk The Moon. The audience are on their feet.

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8.05pm Darcey says he looks confident and in control and “overall: nice”.

It’s a classic from Len: “It’s firework night and you’ve come back with a bang… you’ve been in the wilderness for about three weeks but you’re back. Well done!”

8, 8, 8, 8.

8.01pm With their Viennese Waltz to You Don’t Own Me by Grace, Greg Rutherford and Natalie Lowe are hoping to recover from last week’s tricky Rumba, which earned just a four from Craig.

7.56pm “I really and truly loved it,” says Craig, while Darcey adds: “That was one great performance.” Len: “There was nothing I didn’t like.” Bruno: “It was smoldering, sultry, stunning.”

No complaints!

9,10,10,10!! Jubilation on the balcony. “YES LOUISE” says Kevin. Highest score of the night, and joint highest of the series.

7.53pm Time for the first Argentine Tango of the series, from Louise Redknapp and Kevin Clifton.

Smiley and friendly Louise has been struggling to find her fierce Tango face – but she has found one source of inspiration to become more fearless: her experimentally-dressed three-year-old self.

The two perform to a classic track, Tanguera by Sexteto Mayor. It’s dramatic and interesting and sharp. Standing ovation.

7.47pm “You don’t need to do the trout pout mouth,” says Bruno, praising his actual dance skills.

Judge Rinder shoots back: “I’m not doing it on purpose, I’m just having so much fun. It just happens.”

Craig agrees with Bruno, scolding him: “I think you need something that will lock that jaw of yours, darling… it turns you right off.”

Darcey and Len are on Rinder’s side. “Dance is the mirror of the soul… I like a bit of expression,” says Len. “I was expecting Fred and Cringe. I got Fred and Ginge.”

8, 9, 8, 8. The judges are in a superb mood tonight.

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7.44pm Judge Rinder and Oksana Platero are dancing the Quickstep to the Chantz Powell version of It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing). Rinder just can’t keep his facial expressions and gaping mouth under control but otherwise, a nice classic dance. “Everyone needs to learn to dance, it’s joy,” he tells Tess.

7.38pm Len agrees – he likes the dance but he wants to see more Laura and less Giovanni. Craig adds: “You took a big solo moment there, didn’t you darling,” but Darcey objects: “I quite enjoyed Giovanni’s end. Those were the best turns.”

Bruno calls them “Samba’s VIPs.” The only criticisms? Craig thought she looked a little “awkward”, and there was a bit of a “hiccup” with one of the steps.

7, 8, 8, 9

7.35pm Laura Whitmore and Giovanni Pernice sparkle with the Samba to Bamboleo by Gipsy Kings. Literally – they’re both covered in sequins and glitter and beads. As a nod to Laura’s job as a red carpet host, the Strictly ballroom becomes a red carpet. Though as the camera focuses on Giovanni’s never-ending pirouettes, it seems to be all about him.


7.33pm Darcey is flabbergasted. “I’m very impressed… when you travel, the lightness in your feet. It was not what I was expecting at all.”

Bruno backs her up: “You definitely tried. Lots of content, lots of effort… it was a recognizable Quickstep.”

“Your thumb stuck up once,” says a stern Craig before dropping the act: “I can’t believe I’m actually saying this. You are actually improving.”

Claudia asks: “Is it too early to say the B-word?”

“Bottom?” says Ed Balls, former shadow chancellor.

Looks like Ed could actually make it all the way to Blackpool…

6, 7, 7, 7 – their highest score. Who knew they could beat Halloween week?

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7.28pm Ed Balls and Katya Jones are channeling silent cinema for their Quickstep to Help! by The Beatles. It’s… unexpectedly good. There is comedy in the performance, but only where it is meant to be. Has Ed found his true calling?


7.23pm Craig says the only thing stopping it being “fab-u-lous” is the lack of a figure of eight in the hips. It won’t be a six again this week, though, judging by his praise for the performance as a whole.

“You sold that performance,” says Darcey.

Len makes the sort of comment usually reserved for Bruno: “I was having a really good look at your bum. Your hips were hypnotic. Oh yes! You were really going for it.”

Lots of praise for the lifts, too. Ore has redeemed himself.

8,8,9,9. Solid!

The two sure have turned the beat around, although as Claudia Winkleman comments, who even knew it was facing the wrong way?


7.21pm Time for more of a party mood! Ore Oduba and Joanne Clifton Salsa to Turn The Beat Around by Vicki Sue Robinson, with a much more successful lift than the slightly-botched one they did in Halloween week. “Those hips!” exclaims Tess.

7.16pm Craig and Len both praise the “quirky” choreography, which involved an invisible tandem.

Bruno observes, “She was floating around like a weightless petal caught in a light breeze,” while Craig says: “I thought it was brilliant.”

Darcey asks her to exaggerate the top line, but praises her “beautiful aura” when in hold, adding “it’s just such a pleasure to watch.”

Good scores? Of course. 8, 8, 9, 9. It is their highest score so far.

7.13pm Daisy Lowe and Aljaz Skorjanec dance the Viennese Waltz to Daisy Bell by Harry Dacre – an entirely appropriate song (“Daisy, daisy, give me your answer do”). It’s beautiful and classic and sweet – but will it be enough to make the audience fall in love and pick up the phone to save her from a third dance off?

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7.05pm “I don’t know about Long Tall Sally, that was Fast Foot Danny,” says Len, adding: “Danny Mac – you’re back.”

Bruno Tonioli adds: “Baby that was good” before working himself up into a lather.

Craig Revel Horwood seems to like the routine more and more as he speaks… “It wasn’t that good. It was okay, I enjoyed it, the pirouettes I have to say absolutely amazing, you nailed those… you just need a little bit more retraction in the legs but I’ve got to say, that was incredible.”

“Danny that was amazing and oh my…” says Darcey Bussell, fanning herself.

9, 10, 9, 10 – the jive is almost as good a dance for Danny as it was for Ore Oduba!

7.03pm Danny Mac and Oti Mabuse spectacularly open the show with a jive to Long Tall Sally by Little Richard. The former Hollyoaks star’s confidence doesn’t seem to be shaken by his error-riddled Foxtrot last week. The kicks and flicks seem sharp – but will the judges be impressed?

6.10pm The Strictly gang have been ready for HOURS. Almost time to get the party started…

6pm Week seven could be a turning point. Except for Ed Balls (sorry Ed), the standard of dancing is now very, very high. With Blackpool Tower Ballroom in their sights, which celebrities will take things to another level?

The song and dance list reveals the first Argentine Tango of the year (Louise Redknapp) and a classic Quickstep for Judge Rinder – while Daisy Lowe will be hoping to avoid the dance-off with her Viennese Waltz.

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Strictly Come Dancing 2016: meet the pro dancers

“You sold that performance,” says Daisy.