Alan Dudman's two advised bets were successful last weekend, and he's looking for a perfect record again with three selections for Halloween Week on Strictly...
"I've got Debbie wrong in the past (not a lot), but Joe gained a 10 last week for a Paso, and Aston's a better dancer."
What Happened Last Week
Last Sunday was the time to wave goodbye to TV funnyman Brian Conley. Dressed like an extra from Hi-De-Hi, he performed a rather odd routine which felt like being trapped in a 1980s nightclub (full of bad dancers). Yellow was the colour of the Beatles' submarine, and yellow was also the colour of Conley's hideous clobber. I would say the submarine has more moves.
He lost to Simon Rimmer in the dance-off, which is a bit like losing a tennis match to a sack of potatoes. Although that experience is a familiar one to Wimbledon fans who supported the Brits 20 years ago. Who could forget Jeremy Bates beating that tricky collection of Maris Piper spuds on centre court?
The Conley v Rimmer dance-off was summed up rather accurately at the weekend on the Guardian's Strictly As It Happens; describing it as a choice between diarrhoea or vomiting. Harsh, but very fair.
And talking of runs, surely Rimmer's runeth is over this Saturday? More on him later, but Bruno Tonioli selected the right week to take off. He was in LA, but missed a middle-aged man dance poorly in check waistcoat.
I've said before about how the judges are under-marking certain celebrities, and that was the case with Alexandra Burke's electrifying Samba routine. This was super-quick yet garnered scores of just 7,8 and 8. How Craig Revel-Horwood deemed it worthy of a 7 I will never know. He's being far too picky with the feet.
There's not much change in Burke's price to win at [3.55], and the same comments apply to Aston Merrygold at [3.85] in the Winner market. He collected a trio of 8s with a contemporary Waltz, but is still short of those 9s. His price isn't budging much, which tells you about the chances of those two.
The top marks went to Debbie McGee, and you would have liked that (not a lot) if you backed her for Highest Scorer. She glided around for a 27 (three 9s) Rumba - a dance I got wrong I admit. Judge Craig was so excited he morphed into Bruno and promptly fell off the chair.
I even laughed at a Tess Daly joke.
In other news, it was a good weekend for the column with two out of two bets, and my hunch for Joe McFadden to produce a decent Paso Doble was almost correct. I wasn't quite convinced enough to put him up as a recommended selection, but he came second on the leaderboard with 26 points for his Latin. His intensity was fierce coupled with some great acting, qualities I hadn't seen since the last episode of Holby City.
Who Dances What This Week?
It's a big one this Saturday, and for fans of Steps, you'll get to see 'H' and the gang on Sunday's results show.
Halloween Week awaits for our remaining 11 celebrities, and the news from the past seven days has been dominated by Mollie King (again) and her dance partner AJ Pritchard. The latter has been nursing a bug and a temperature. Mollie was stressed, but luckily wasn't stressed enough not to tell the world with a video about it. Both appeared absolutely fine on It Takes Two on Thursday.
No dramas anymore. Hopefully they can keep the "will they or won't they?" theme going for the series.
King said on the show: "We are training, for like, twelve hours a day."
Like 12 hours a day? How does that work? 12 hours are 12 hours. There are no blurred areas. Unless she danced for 11 hours and 59 minutes, that is almost like 12 hours.
There wasn't much liquidity in the market on Thursday night, but a small amount was there to take for [3.0] in the Highest Scorer market. She dances to Kylie Minogue and Better The Devil You Know, but I would want more than [3.0] for her. She's better in the ballroom, but she's called the routine "the devil", so we'll leave that bet alone.
Gemma Atkinson was described by Craig last week as a frontrunner in the competition following her joint-third on Saturday. She mixes fierce with elegance and has the Jive this Saturday. It's the big-scoring routine from the last two series - this could be a pivotal dance. I would rather back her at around [4.50] for Highest Scorer than Mollie.
The big two of Aston [3.0] and Alexandra [2.50] have got to be looking at 10s this Saturday. Burke dances a Tango to Maneater by Nelly Furtado, whilst the Merrygold steps into Paso Doble with Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. The latter's an interesting one, and quite possibly the first-ever grunge song to appear on Strictly. Go Dave Arch!
And Maneater by Nelly Furtado? What happened to Maneater by Hall And Oates? Their version is like, 12 times better.
Aston's Paso has the potential to be brilliant, but so does McGee's upcoming Charleston. She's a neat and tidy dancer but this is the one she needs to be a bit goofy and wild. I've got Debbie wrong in the past (not a lot), but Joe gained a 10 last week for a Paso, and Aston's a better dancer.
Who Faces Elimination This Week?
The legendary French theatre impresario Gabriel Astruc was once the booking agent for the great dancer Nijinsky many years ago. If Astruc were alive today, you can bet the price of him calling on Simon Rimmer would be [1000.0] on Betfair.
Quite how the TV chef remains in this series has gone beyond the ridiculous. The 5th Elimination price of [1.65] actually seems quite reasonable. His Charleston was so desperate last weekend that we had to watch it twice with yet another dance-off appearance.
It's pointless even talking about what routine he has, but he might be risky for an Elimination bet here for one reason, and one reason only.
He netted 16 points last weekend, which was the same total as Ruth Langsford. I love Ruth, but she's pretty hopeless, and if it came down to a straight fight between those two; it would be fairly close.
Ruth has a Quickstep to the Bewitched Theme Tune - which I presume is the TV Series and not the Dublin-based denim-loving songsters. The Quickstep wouldn't strike me as her dance, whilst Simon probably has the easier one in the Waltz.
However, Ruth has clearly got plenty of fans voting for her as she hasn't appeared in the Bottom Two yet. If she evades it again, Rimmer has got no chance of surviving. He's a Bottom Two selection all over, but he'll be no sort of price.
There could be the potential for a shock to appear in the red zone, unfortunately I cannot quite make my mind up who it could be.
Saturday's show will thump out some cracking tunes. I believe the term is "Autumn Banger", apart from maybe Joe, who rather unluckily has a Coldplay song.
Back Aston Merrygold as Highest Scorer @ [3.0]
Lay Ruth Langsford in Bottom Two @ [1.41]
Back Ruth Langsford as Lowest Scorer @ [1.80]
*Strictly airs this Saturday on BBC One at 18:35 to 20:20 with in-play markets available, with the results show Sunday at 19:15 to 20:00.