Earlier in this series I was guilty of being a week too early in predicting the departures of Katie McGlynn and Greg Wise. And it was the same story with Dan Walker who was eliminated in last Saturday’s quarter-final, having suggested he would be knocked out the week before.
So having given Rhys as the recommendation for tenth elimination, it has to be Rhys advised again, for tonight’s 11th elimination.
In the Strictly semi-final, all the remaining couples perform two dances, and whoever ends up in the dance-off will reprise their higher scoring routine on the night.
Double trouble for Rhys
The clear concern for Rhys is, in samba and tango he doesn’t seem to have a dance to call upon that will guarantee him a score over 35, whereas his three opponents all look to have dances offering the window for the judges to pull out their ten paddles, and hence achieve individual dance scores in the 37-40 range.
A Rhys samba to ‘Meglio Stasera’ should be ideally in his wheelhouse but even if he executes it well, it will be tough for him to earn more than nines for it, which invariably equates to an eight from Craig.
Tango to ‘One Vision’ by Queen could, best case scenario, see him land a similar score, but Rhys has had issues with his ballroom frame series-long and in a semi-final as competitive as this one, the judges are likely to be extremely pernickety.
In the Winner market on Betfair, Rose is trading around 1.21/5 and while nothing is ever certain in the world of Specials there is a strong sense she is bossing the public vote.
Rose to bloom
She looks to have two pontentially strong dances for her in waltz and Argentine tango. She already achieved 37 for her Viennese Waltz in week five and has the dreamy ‘How Long Will I Love You’ by Ellie Goulding to help sell her waltz with.
Giovanni has a superb record with AT achieving perfect tens in the past when dancing it with Debbie McGee, Faye Tozer and Ranvir Singh.
So if Rose executes her two routines well tonight, she looks the bet to land the Highest Score (2 dances combined).
John has what looks on a paper a banker 39 or 40 dance in the form of his Couple’s Choice routine which will be a Contemporary number telling his and Johannes’ story, set to Adele’s ‘Hometown Glory’.
However, John also has the ever-difficult jive to navigate as his other dance, accompanied by the odd song choice of Coldplay’s ‘Higher Power’. This looks like potentially dragging his combined score down slightly.
AJ found herself in last week’s dance-off after going wrong with her salsa in the main show and being scored last on the judges’ leaderboard.
She has the chance to bounce back with a classic Quickstep set to ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’ by Benny Goodman. This will likely be her highest scoring dance on the night, with the tricky-to-execute rumba as her other dance choice.
Strictly fans have been eagerly awaiting an AJ and Kai rumba as they have great chemistry together, and AJ’s long legs look tailor-made to create some quality lines, but tens might prove hard to come by.
With all four remaining contestants signed up for next year’s Strictly Live tour, you could argue it is all to play for and the producers may not be too bothered how it plays out this evening.
But given the overriding impression Rhys has been struggling on the public vote series-long, it would make sense for TPTB to give viewers what they want by putting through to the final the three couples in Rose & Giovanni, AJ & Kai, and John & Johannes who have been proving more popular with the voting audience.
So the advice has to be to back Rhys for 11th elimination at 1.51/2 or better on Betfair.
If Rose tops the leaderboard and Rhys is last, with AJ and John in second and third in either order, the most fascinating element will be seeing who joins Rhys in the dance-off between AJ and John, as either of these scoring scenarios would give us definitive confirmation of which of the two is earning the higher public vote heading into next week’s final.