With the quarter-finals creeping closer, Alan Dudman looks ahead to Saturday's Strictly, and is hoping the new favourite Joe McFadden flops in Musicals Week...
"With only six couples left, we are seeking near-perfection as the quarter-finals loom. I expect near-perfection from Burke and McGee this Saturday - as both have mark-friendly routines."
What Happened Last Week
Another weekend and another shock. Top-dancer and favourite Alexandra Burke found herself in the dance-off to face Susan Calman - in what was probably the most one-sided match since last week's TV ratings of Strictly versus The X Factor. Ouch! Kapow!
Although anymore of that Paso-Doblethon nonsense might see the figures plummet. Quite why producers thought that was a good addition is anyone's guess. A few minutes of people bumping into each other is not my idea of TV gold. The whole thing was nonsense.
Anyway, Burke only gained 32 points for a lacklustre Rumba, and as we know, it's the dance the slebs fear the most. She topped the charts in the Paso Doble thing - but no one had any idea what was going on at the point. I doubt very much we will see it next year.
Calman's exit was justified with only 21, and the gulf between her and the singer was somewhat cruelly exposed.
Last week really was a snapshot of how difficult this year's Strictly has been. All the best celebrities have faced the dance-off (Aston Merrygold, Alexandra and Debbie McGee) - and poor old Aston went out ages ago. Someone posted on Twitter that the scores have been all over the place from the judges this year; and I wholeheartedly agree. The inconsistent marks are leading to inconsistent results.
It's been a tough old series on the tipping front, but our saving grace is the ante-post ticket on wee Joe McFadden at [21.0] in the Winner market. And the knock-on effect from his first time at the top of the leaderboard means that he is now the 9/4 Sportsbook favourite for the glitterball. I still am not convinced he can win, but then I wasn't about Tom Chambers. Remember him?
The Holby man topped the rankings last week, and there are not many times you will hear Holby City and top of rankings in the same sentence.
Joe has been steadily creeping up the table for some while now, and he picked up a personal best 38 last week for his Quickstep.
I mentioned at the top; another week and another shock, well another Saturday and another pointless story about Mollie King and AJ Pritchard. This "will they or won't they?" sideshow is becoming rather tedious. Even the Radio Times called them "lovebirds", despite the fact both have flatly denied the story. Even an appearance on ITV this week led to "that question".
Her 31 last weekend was a best-ever, though. She's rising up the charts, which must be a novel feeling.
The latest prices on the Sportsbook to win (behind Joe) are McGee 5/2, Burke 10/3, Gemma Atkinson 6/1, Davood Ghadami 8/1 and Mollie 18/1.
Who Dances What This Week?
With only six couples left, we are seeking near-perfection as the quarter-finals loom. I expect near-perfection from Burke and McGee this Saturday - as both have mark-friendly routines.
If you can snaffle anything near [2.0] on Alexandra then take it, as her upcoming Charleston is another Mary Poppins-themed shindig. She's dancing to Supercalifragilsticexpialidocious - and one thing she can do is fast and furious. Which is the opposite to the one thing Dick Van Dyke could do - a cockney accent. If this doesn't get at least 39, I'll be staggered.
New favourite Joe has a Samba to Money Money from Cabaret. I guess at this point I should mention it's Musicals Week.
This could be a tricky one as Ian Waite pointed out this week that it needs a lot of bounce and it's all about the rhythm. Again, if he is around [2.0] to [2.50] for Highest Scorer (considering his leaderboard position last week) I would take him on.
Atkinson is really up and down with the marks, although her and Joe are the only two celebrities yet to appear in the dance-off. Her upcoming Quickstep might not be for her, as the all-round entertainer can be somewhat ploddy. This has some Charleston steps, and she got 31 points for that routine in week three. Her routine is to Barbara Streisand's Hello Dolly. I wonder what good old Babs would make of it?
Meanwhile Joan Collins tweeted that she loved Debbie's Argentine last week. Remember her in the Tales Of The Unexpected?
McGee triumphed with said routine last Saturday, but she might go dizzy this weekend with her American Smooth, and could be around the [3.0] mark for Highest Scorer. The 59-year-old will perform Memory from Cats - another old Babs song. Although it has been performed by powerhouses Barry Manilow, Elaine Page, Richard Clayderman and Susan Boyle.
Incidentally, Cats is the sixth longest running show in the West End. No doubt behind Mouse Trap.....and they still haven't caught the mouse.
Who Faces Elimination This Week?
I went with Mollie last week and she escaped, again - although she did gain her first 9 of the series last Saturday. Despite me relishing more "will they or won't they?" news, her upcoming Rumba is cause for concern. Especially as the best dancer (Alexandra) struggled with it last week with just 32, yet King's top score for the series has been 31. That's how far behind she is, but I am looking for her to beat Gemma this weekend.
She has a Grease song this week, and it could be quite a good theme for her with the Hopelessly Devoted To You set to be belted out by the Dave Arch Band. I expect her to be fairly short however in both Bottom Two and 10th Elimination markets.
Davood might be safe in terms of Lowest Score, as he's the first male to tackle the Argentine Tango for the series on Saturday. However, as was mentioned on ITT this week - nobody is safe!
Lay Joe McFadden as Highest Scorer if [2.50] or shorter
*Strictly airs this Saturday on BBC One at 19:05 to 20:10 with in-play markets available, with the results show Sunday at 19:20 to 20:00.