It's semi-final time on Strictly this Saturday. Our man Alan Dudman is back to preview the final five dancers, with his ante-post tip of Joe McFadden now the clear favourite...
What Happened Last Week
Well, the hornets' nest that is the Winner market on Strictly got another prod and a poke, as Joe McFadden hit [2.10] to win. Yes, he is now the favourite.
And if you ever watch the opening credits you might remember Brian Conley gurning with his thumbs up at the start. That is how I am feeling now (well apart from the gurning bit) having tipped up McFadden at [21.0] ante post for the Glitterball. It's been a tough old series on the bets front, but I'll take that win as a get-out.
I have never been quite convinced he will succeed, but then I got thinking about how Natalie Gumede, Ricky Whittle and Danny Mac all were star turns and great dancers - and yet all lost in the final. I get the feeling that Alexandra Burke will join that list.
Firstly, the singer is incredible. Her 39 points shared the top of the leaderboard with Debbie McGee, which meant we collected on our lay of Joe (who hit 37), and she truly nailed the Mary Poppins routine. The judges commented that she out-swivelled the pro, and they couldn't tell who was the celebrity. Which is often the case for various Z-listers who ask: "Don't you know who I am?"
Burke was back in the Bottom Two last Saturday for the second time, and the red zone most certainly knows who she is. For some reason the 29-year-old just hasn't clicked with the audience, which is not a surprise given so much negative press describing various fall outs, fuming with people and then last week the epic meltdown headline. She hasn't had kind press put it that way - neither much love on Twitter.
With her price now at [11.50] to win, that is astonishing for someone who is such a talented performer. But remember, the voters decide, and Danny Mac is probably still thinking how he didn't win last year.
I ought to mention McFadden's 37 points for the Samba - and we were certainly right to oppose it. However, that could well be the dance of a champion considering how the males struggle with the routine. It was risky, but the excellent Natalie Lowe described it as "the best action of Samba I have seen in a celebrity". Go Joe.
He is now the highest-scoring Scot in Strictly history. However, his opponents have been Judy Murray and Kenny Logan, which is the equivalent of Neymar's Brazil beating Dennis Waterman's Showbiz XI. But the Scottish vote is something I hadn't considered before - and he hasn't been in the Bottom Two ever. Momentum.
I've left Mollie King out of the intro due to YET ANOTHER romance story. For god's sake, just tell us!
Oh, and Davood Ghadami was voted off - probably gutted he faced Alexandra in the dance-off. Davood was a big improver, which is just what the show is all about. Unfortunately he will now face the misery of life back in Albert Square.
Who Dances What This Week?
The equation is simple, two dances plus public voting means you are in the final.
We'll start with Debbie, who gained near-perfect marks for her immaculate American Smooth last week. She wasn't hindered by dressing as Bonnie Tyler on the night, and Bonnie is the only singer in history to have a gig cancelled because she DIDN'T have a sore throat.
She is [3.40] for the Winner market these days, and should seal her passage to the final. After all, she is the fastest-moving 59-year-old out there, and she should breeze through an upcoming Jive (the one that sealed Ore Oduba's win). Her second routine is the Foxtrot - and considering she bagged 39 last week for a similar dance, we could get a 40 here.
Highest Scorer marks for McGee could be as short as [1.80] come game night.
Alexandra should be up there with Debbie in the same market, and she'll perform to a couple of great songs including the much-underrated Cece Peniston. Her second dance is the Viennese Waltz that has no trotting, unlike Ruth Langsford's effort. Who trotted so well that she'll jump an Aintree fence one day.
Considering Burke has been in the Bottom Two twice, it's a big call here for third time unlucky.
New favourite Joe has a pair of routines that should guarantee his passage to next Saturday; a Fred and Ginger American Smooth, backed up by an Argentine Tango. The former will be played out to Have You Met Miss Jones? by Robbie Williams. I thought it was a Rupert Rigsby song.
Who Faces Elimination?
Strictly have tweaked the Grand Final rules here, with only one celeb going on Sunday night, meaning four dancers head to next week's finale. At least we don't have that ridiculous Paso-Doblathon.
Mollie is available to back at 14/1 on the Sportsbook to win the Glitterball, and I get the feeling she has fluked this run to the semi-final. Craig Revel-Horwood described her as dancing by numbers last week - which was also my favourite cricket sledge when bowling. "Batting by numbers are you?" would be my one of choice. Although a teammate would shout "fruit salad" from gully, and I never, ever found out why.
King only got 31 and she has to go this week. With only light liquidity at the time of writing for Lowest Scorer, there was a bit of [1.50] floating around. If she goes to [1.70], that could be a bet. She has the dreaded Samba this Saturday for her first dance, and a Waltz for the second.
Gemma Atkinson should in theory be able to beat her with a score for this weekend, but the dance lucky dip has not been kind. The TV star looked a million dollars last Saturday, but danced like a million lira with just 29, but she has two quite difficult sets in a Tango and Rumba. She has never been in the dance-off, yet Mollie's been there before. If they face Alexandra there, it's curtains.
Week 12 Recommended Bets
Back Mollie King for 11th Elimination @ [2.32]
Back Alexandra Burke in Bottom Two @ [3.0]
*Strictly airs this Saturday on BBC One at 19:05 to 20:10 with in-play markets available, with the results show Sunday at 19:15 to 20:00.