The Strictly profit has been rolling in, with Ugo landing the fourth elimination money last weekend. Rob Furber thinks it could pay to back the favourite again...
"Her only chance of survival will be if the judges focus on the entertainment value of the routine, and seek to build a degree of sympathy for Judi following her ill health, perhaps highlighting the great job her and Graziano have done in a very short space of time."
Tonight's show and the fifth elimination market has been shrouded in uncertainty due to question marks over whether or not Judi Love will take part, as she has been recovering from Covid and was only able to return to the training room yesterday.
On last night's It Takes Two, Judi was interviewed via Zoom and revealed she would be competing tonight, and there was footage of her rehearsing her routine at the Elstree studio.
Judi is the odds-on fifth elimination favourite with Betfair and she does look the obvious candidate for the chop. The producers have allowed her to carry over her week five routine, a CCC to Olivia Newton-John's 'Physical', which she at least had the chance to work on for a couple of days prior to her positive Covid test.
But she will very likely be under-prepared tonight and CCC is a tough fast Latin dance at the best of times. Her only chance of survival will be if the judges focus on the entertainment value of the routine, and seek to build a degree of sympathy for Judi following her ill health, perhaps highlighting the great job her and Graziano have done in a very short space of time.
Dan's Lobster delight
The worry for those considering laying Judi for elimination is that Dan Walker has a jive to the B52's 'Rock Lobster', with him and pro partner Nadiya Bychkova dressed as lobsters, which looks a more obvious candidate in 'Halloween Week' to steal the 'entertainment' narrative and enjoy the generous scoring of the judges.
While Judi and Dan may well be fighting it out for last place on the judges' leaderboard, who finishes top looks like being a keenly-fought contest and you can make a case for all of Rose, Rhys and AJ.
John top scored last week with his Charleston, and given the fact the show likes to mix things up at the top of the leaderboard from week to week, we can probably put a line through him, dancing a werewolf-themed Quickstep to 'Bad Moon Rising' by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Halloween Week streak for Giovanni
Rose landed her first ten of the series last week for her VW and tonight she will dance a tango to Ed Sheeran's current hit single 'Shivers'.
Not only is Rose improving week by week with her ballroom technique but her pro partner, Giovanni, has topped the leaderboard every year he has taken part in Strictly's Halloween Week going back to 2015.
This remarkable stat was flagged up on last week's show by Claudia, has been discussed on this week's It Takes Two, and the producers may be keen for Giovanni to continue his Halloween Week streak.
Giovanni joint-top scored back in 2016, dancing a tango with Laura Whitmore, and it could be in the script for something similar to happen tonight.
Another strong contender for highest score has to be AJ who has a VW to 'Dangerous Woman' by Ariana Grande, and will be styled as Medusa.
AJ has the advantage of having danced a VW-based American Smooth in week three, hasn't top scored since her week one jive, and she looked good in yesterday's rehearsal footage.
Rhys to bounce back strongly
The other one to consider has to be Rhys, performing a paso doble to Jeff Wayne's 'The Eve Of The War' which looks an open goal for a high-scoring, dramatic triumph.
After a tough week for Rhys when he landed in the dance-off for the first time despite performing from the pimp slot, the judges may feel they owe it to him to be kinder, more generous with their scoring, and position him at the top of the leaderboard to secure his safe passage through to week seven.
The week six Highest Scorer market ends up going on the 'too difficult' pile as it looks too tight to call and could even be a three-way tie.
Tom, like Rose, has tango and is due a late running order position. AC/DC's 'Highway To Hell' was chosen by his kids so we could well see family Fletcher in the studio audience, which invariably guarantees kind critiques and generous scoring.
Sara has a Couple's Choice routine, and on the Strictly dance chart, that usually results in generous scoring and avoiding the dance-off. It is a first CC for Aljaz and a slight question mark hangs over exactly what dance genre they are aiming for.
Last night's rehearsal footage hinted at almost a paso-style of dance with a focus on Sara projecting her power, accompanied by Whitney Houston's 'Queen of the Night'. Sara has been enjoying teacher's pet status so far this series so is probably set for generous scores again and should progress to week seven.
Bottom two risk for Tilly
Tilly could end up in greater jeopardy. Like Judi, she has CCC which is the most difficult of the fast Latin dances, often scored down.
It has looked as if the judges have been scoring Tilly generously in previous weeks to counter her weak public vote, so if she finds herself mid-table or below, which does look on the cards tonight, she could easily fall into the dance-off.
Adam, like AJ, has VW, and the advantage of an emotive piece of music in Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata' to help sell his routine.
The worry remains with Adam, the judges have chosen a path to be ultra-critical of his routines and with AJ seemingly set to shine, it could be in the script again for Adam to endure nit-picking and a low score.
It looks as if the only way Judi survives tonight is if they go after Dan and score him lower than her. Given his BBC employment status and the way they have been kind and helpful to him so far in this series - and he does provide handy promotion for Strictly as they chart his progress each week on Breakfast - it seems more likely Judi will be their target and Dan will earn a reprieve.
There is also a scenario in which Dan might end up in last place on the judges' leaderboard tonight but manage to avoid the dance-off courtesy of his stronger public vote compared to others lurking towards the bottom end.
So the advice would be to back Judi for elimination at around 1.654/6 or bigger on Betfair to be the fifth elimination. For those seeking an insurance policy, Dan is available to back at 6.05/1 with Betfair, in what looks a likely two-horse race.
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