Sunday 26 September, 8.00pm
Given the spectre of negative headlines, Rob Furber thinks favourite Ugo Monye could escape tonight and favours a value elimination punt...
"Katie now has the ever difficult jive, added to which her Hollyoaks schedule has meant she has had very little training room time this week to improve her technique."
There's no denying Ugo Monye's week 1 samba wasn't the best. He currently resides second last on the judges' leaderboard with only Sara Davies scoring lower with her CCC, and bookmakers generally rate him favourite to be eliminated first.
However, the BBC could feel a little on edge regarding the potential for 'racist Strictly voters' news headlines if Ugo is eliminated first so may work to save him.
All in the timing
A small positive for Ugo is, he was drawn three in the running order last week so should enjoy a later r.o. position tonight.
Not only that but he now has Quickstep which is a ballroom routine contestants can generally get away with as long as they maintain timing, as we saw with Dan Walker in week one.
Sara Davies also has the opportunity to improve her scoring courtesy of a foxtrot which is her pro partner Aljaz's favourite dance. After being drawn five last week she, too, should be in line for a later r.o. position tonight.
With Tom Fletcher given a bye due to Covid, he is safely through to week three so who else might offer Ugo a glimmer of hope of surviving?
Week One judges' leaderboard:
AJ and Kai: Jive - 8, 8, 9, 9 = 34 (14)
John and Johannes: Tango - 7, 7, 8, 8 = 30 (12)
Adam and Katya: Cha Cha Cha - 7, 7, 8, 8 = 30 (15)
Rhys and Nancy: Viennese Waltz - 6, 7, 7, 7 = 27 (4)
Dan and Nadiya: Quickstep - 5, 5, 7, 7 = 24 (6)
Greg and Karen: American Smooth - 6, 6, 5, 7 = 24 (10)
Nina and Neil: Samba - 5, 5, 7, 7 = 24 (11)
Judi and Graziano: American Smooth - 6, 6, 6, 6 = 24 (13)
Rose and Giovanni: Jive - 6, 6, 4, 6 = 22 (7)
Katie and Gorka: Tango - 6, 5, 5, 6 = 22 (8)
Tom and Amy: Cha Cha Cha - 4, 7, 5, 5 = 21 (1) - BYE
Tilly and Nikita: Waltz - 5, 5, 6, 5 = 21 (2)
Robert and Dianne: Cha Cha Cha - 6, 4, 4, 6 = 20 (9)
Ugo and Oti: Samba - 3, 5, 5, 5 = 18 (3)
Sara and Aljaž: Cha Cha Cha - 3, 5, 5, 4 = 17 (5)
Robert Webb has tango and is going to play it straight when his USP in this series appears to be more as an entertainer as we saw during his week one CCC. So there's a small air of vulnerability with him but he does have a great piece of music in 'La Cumparsita' by Machiko Ozawa to capture the drama of the tango.
Tilly set to impress
Tilly Ramsay carried public vote concerns into this series and had an underwhelming start with her waltz. But she now has Charleston which nine times out of ten is an audience-pleaser and earns plenty of votes so she is looking safe, and there might also be room for her price to come in on the Betfair winner market from her current quote of 80.079/1
Rose Ayling-Ellis is many people's idea of the most likely winner and she currently resides as favourite on Betfair at around 5.04/1.
As predicted here last week, Rose began with a promising but lowly scored jive which left her in the bottom half of the judges' leaderboard.
She now has salsa which is another tough fast Latin routine to negotiate. But even if Rose is scored lowly again, her public vote is going to power her to safety, and her backers will be treating the choice of salsa as a positive as it means she will have got two of the most difficult fast Latin routines out of the way in the first 2 weeks of the show.
Katie at risk
Matching Rose on 22pts in week one was Katie McGlynn. She did a decent job with tango but ended up thoroughly eclipsed by John Whaite who also performed tango and was scored a full 8pts higher from the later r.o. position.
Katie now has the ever difficult jive, added to which her Hollyoaks schedule has meant she has had very little training room time this week to improve her technique.
Greg Wise has been granted an early Couple's Choice which will be a disco-inspired routine performed as a tribute to his late sister. Dan Walker has paso doble and has cunningly avoided fast Latin in the first two weeks which hints at producer favour for him.
As predicted here, Nina Wadia turned out to be one of the surprises of week one, and performs a tango tonight to 'Would I Lie To You?' by The Eurythmics, with tango the dance cited by her as the one she was most looking forward to performing across the series.
So it looks like tonight's first elimination is most likely to come down to who is scored lowest out of Sara, Ugo and Katie, and given the odds of around 8.07/1 Katie looks well worth a punt to suffer a surprise exit.
AJ looking strong
At the top of the leaderboard currently resides AJ Odudu after her stunning week one jive. She is going to form a formidable pairing with Kai Widdrington. These two really look the part together and there is tangible chemistry between them.
Despite the impressive start to the series made by all of John, Adam Peaty and Rhys Stephenson, my gut feeling is, it's all about the fairer sex this year so the advice is to also back AJ for the win at 5.24/1 on the Betfair Winner market having previously advised Rose and Nina Wadia.
Rhys could be teed up to shine tonight performing CCC to 'Reach Out, I'll Be There' by Human Nature as fast Latin looks like being his forte. John also has CCC and looked good in last night's rehearsal footage, while Adam takes on Quickstep in what might prove a more low key week for him.
AJ looks like potentially excelling more or less every week and foxtrot is Kai's favourite dance so this is expected to be another triumph for her. Also keep an eye out for Judi Love's samba to 'Get Busy' by Sean Paul which is likely to be among tonight's highlights and should guide her to safety.
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Sunday 26 September, 8.00pm