After the huge shock of Aston Merrygold's departure last Sunday, Alan Dudman has just about recovered to pick out a couple of bets for Saturday's live show...
"This week she has an Argentine Tango to Gotan Project's Mi Confession. She's the most adaptable dancer and is fierce and intense - just the ticket for this."
What Happened Last Week
The biggest shock in Strictly history happened, that's what. Aston Merrygold somehow found himself in the bottom two last Sunday, and whilst a dance-off with Mollie King seemed fairly straightforward, head judge Shirley Ballas kept Mollie in a surprise twist. King was like, you know, like, happy to stay.
Let me put this into context (with plenty of sour grapes and pocket talking). Prior to last week's show, the top five scorers in terms of points (in reverse order) were Joe McFadden (165), Gemma Atkinson (166), Debbie McGee (180), Alexandra Burke (190) and Aston with 192.
The stats don't lie, and he was being under-marked too. How Craig Revel-Horwood deemed him worthy of a 4 pointer I will never know.
I like Ballas, I think her comments are excellent and I love the technical aspect she brings. She is far more interesting than Len Goodman ever was, but the judges have faced a real backlash this week from the viewers as they are now robbed of a potential winner (and winning bet for me). Staking points down the drain.
I thought Aston was the best dancer, but the best dancers do not win (ie Danny Mac and Ricky Whittle). He also came across as a really nice bloke who simply put a bit of a twist on some of his routines. Strictly will be poorer without him. And remember - he has at plenty of stages, traded as the favourite to win the damn thing.
It wasn't all doom and gloom in terms of the bets, though. The risk to predict Ruth Langsford staying in came off again, whilst Joe showed last week with a 36-point Charleston that he might be good - but he won't win. That was the routine to earn top marks and he just failed with four 9s. Good, but not top-drawer.
And let's talk about magical Debbie McGee - who hit the first 40 of the series with her Tango. Craig was kneeling before her in full praise as a prelude to top marks (I knew it was coming) - and there has been a massive shift in the prices now to win the glitterball. McGee can be backed at [2.88], which is the lowest I recall her being for the series. Good luck to the people that snapped up the 33/1 on the Sportsbook ante-post.
McGee is the new favourite, tell the world. Last week was a dagger through the heart (with me strapped on to one of those spinning wheels). Now that isn't magic.
Who Dances What This Week
Having missed the 'McGee Express' by some distance, it feels I am playing catch up (not a lot) with her at the moment as I haven't tipped her for anything. She's hit the top of the leaderboard for three weeks running now and will probably be around the [1.80] mark for Highest Scorer bets this weekend.
Her upcoming routine is the Salsa to the Disco classic 'I Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You' by Boys Town Gang. The song and routine has the potential to be a tiny bit cheesy, but the 59-year-old is really getting the scores from the judges. There's always a late charger on Strictly (remember Ore Oduba?), and she's the charger.
She's apparently had to postpone her appearance in panto alongside Antony Costa in Beauty And The Beast. I presume she is playing Beauty, oh yes she is.
Beauty will be the word if we can get bigger odds on Burke at around [2.50] for Highest Scorer. The Singer hit a 39 last week with a Cha Cha Cha - a dance I had reservations about. Ballas said she looked like a professional and was the best Cha Cha Cha for this season. This week she has an Argentine Tango to Gotan Project's Mi Confession. She's the most adaptable dancer and is fierce and intense - just the ticket for this, even though I don't know what the Gotan Project is.
Alexandra can be backed at [3.95] in the Winner market. She has the standard to win, unfortunately McGee has the momentum.
At the moment it is very much looking like a two-horse race. Third-favourite Gemma is [7.60], but she only managed 26 points last week. Joe trades at [8.0], and whilst I am pleased with that having tipped him at [21.0], I just cannot see him winning.
Meanwhile outside chance Davood Ghadami at [25.0] bounced back like most of the former Eastenders' actors do by reappearing in the soap 35 years later, and he produced a stunning 35 points with a ballroom routine last week. It contained a bum-lift and a yellow shirt. I cannot understand why anyone would wear a pale yellow shirt, ever.
That was his highest score, but a personal low in the fashion stakes.
Who Faces Elimination This Week?
After the jolt of Aston's exit, I suppose anything is possible. Nobody is safe this Sunday.
She landed us two-out-of-two last Saturday so we cannot complain, and she has now avoided the bottom two every single week. Her points tally of 22 was the worst, but her entertainment value is becoming the greatest.
Her partner Anton Du Beke has been very canny. He's ditched the technique and gone down the comedy route. And who says comedy is dead?
Poor Ruth fell over at the end of the dance and landed on top of Du Beke last Saturday. She then proceeded to apply what can only be described as 'The Perfect Plex'. One, two, three count. It had the audience in stitches (which isn't always the case on BBC prime time comedy) and it worked.
She had all the coverage in the papers and media the next day, whilst the likes of Gemma, Susan Calman and Jonnie Peacock barely got a mention. People are voting for Langsford, and people might vote to see her at Blackpool. I think we can get another week out of the lay.
So in the words of Bob Dylan; Lay Lady Lay (that's one lay not two).
For Bottom Two purposes; Mollie has been there twice and needs a response from all of her fans. Luckily she's hit the front pages of the tabloids again this week. She might be around the [2.50] mark again for that bet, but I do expect a response from the King devotees - of which I am not one.
In other news, Calman is dancing to a Katy Perry song called Firework. Which just goes to show you that fireworks start well before November 5th and continue for at least a week after.
Back Alexandra Burke as Highest Scorer @ [2.80]
Lay Ruth Langsford in Bottom Two @ [1.60]
*Strictly airs this Saturday on BBC One at 18:45 to 20:20 with in-play markets available, with the results show Sunday at 19:20 to 20:00.