Strictly Come Dancing Final Preview
December 10, 2018
We’ve arrived at the final of Strictly Come Dancing 2018!
Over the past eleven weeks, we’ve seen buckets of fake tan, hundreds of headlines, illicit snogs (sorry Neil), giant props, glitter galore, and, some rather fab-u-lous dancing!
Cricketer Graeme Swann and Oti Mabuse’s Thriller-themed Cha Cha Cha will live long in the memory, as will newsreader Kate Silverton ditching her inhibitions and donning a long red wig to portray Jessica Rabbit in Movie Week.
Now in its sixteenth season, the show has shaken things up this year, introducing new professional dancers, pushing the envelope with its professional group routines– which have included same-sex dancing and wheelchair dancing – and bringing a new category into play: Couple’s Choice.
Here, the pairs can opt for Contemporary, Street/Commercial, or Theatre/Jazz to showcase skills they may already possess.
While some of the viewers have been unhappy with this new category (and extremely vocal about it on social media) there’s no denying it’s produced some of the best performances this season.
From Charles and Karen’s slick street dance to Faye and Giovanni’s impeccable theatre/jazz turn, you can’t deny that the couples have chosen well!
Of course, in order for us to reach the finale, several pairs have fallen by the wayside.
Ladies and gentleman, in order of elimination, allow us to present the class of 2018:
- Susannah Constantine and Anton Du Beke
- Lee Ryan and Nadiya Bychkova
- Katie Piper and Gorka Marquez
- Vick Hope and Graziano di Prima
- Seann Walsh and Katya Jones
- Dr Ranj Singh and Janette Manrara
- Danny John-Jules and Amy Dowden
- Kate Silverton and Aljaz Skorjanec
- Graeme Swann and Oti Mabuse
- Charles Venn and Karen Clifton
- Lauren Steadman and AJ Pritchard
Paralympian Lauren and her popular pro partner AJ just missed out on a place in the final, after being knocked out in the dance-off by former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts and Pasha Kovalev.
Through it all, the Strictly betting has been in full swing.
Even before the first red carpet show, prior to the celebrities being paired with their pro dancers, the markets were buzzing with anticipation.
Originally, Ashley was the bookies’ favourite, due to her extensive dance experience.
However, from midway through the show broadcaster Stacey Dooley started to creep up the Strictly odds to win, eventually becoming the outright favourite, as her technique started to match her performance value and personality.
Both are still in with a chance of lifting the glitter ball, but more on them later.
Strictly has always lent itself well to social media but, this season, it’s everywhere you look.
With the website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a dedicated app, you can keep up to date, and have your say, whenever you like.
People have definitely been talking.
This season it’s the ringers vs the novices, and to some extent, the judges v the public.
Two of the finalists, Stacey Dooley and Joe Sugg, are broadcasters. Stacey produces hard-hitting documentaries, whilst Joe is a YouTube star and vlogger.
The other two, Ashley Roberts and Faye Tozer, are trained dancers, to varying degrees.
Depending on your point of view, they elevate the quality of performances, or their presence flies in the face of the spirit of the show.
The latter opinion has been reflected in the last three weeks, where former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts has three times found herself in the dance-off but been unanimously saved by the judges each time.
Let’s take a closer look at Ashley’s, and the other celebrities’, odds of lifting the glitterball.
If you’ve been keeping an eye on the Strictly betting, you will have seen Stacey’s odds shrinking seemingly with each performance.
The Luton lass is partnered with housewives’ favourite Kevin ‘From Grimsby’ Clifton, who holds the dubious record of reaching the final the most times without actually winning – four.
The smart money says this will be Kevin’s year, however, as it seems the public are determined to crown a novice dancer and Stacey more than fits the bill.
We’ve seen her transform from a feisty elegant beginner to a consummate performer, who still makes the odd missteps, but has charmed the nation with her candour and love of dancing.
To win Strictly you need to make the nation fall in love with you, not just rely on your existing fanbase and that is exactly what Stacey has achieved. Those who responded with ‘who?’ when her name was announced are now singing her praises, and we predict she will lift the glitterball on Saturday night.
Perhaps Stacey’s biggest competition, is YouTube vlogger Joe Sugg.
Like Stacey, he was unknown to a large portion of the regular Strictly viewers, with a predominantly teenage and young adult fanbase.
Despite the fact that he’s 27, his boyish face and youthful exuberance have garnered him an army of young online fans, which his time on Strictly has only increased.
Now, though, he counts young children, OAPs and just about everyone in between among his fans.
Partnered with flame-haired Dianne Buswell, Joe surprised the judges and public alike with his timing, rhythm and musicality. The pair take risks with choreography and, mostly, they pay off.
He’s not been as consistent as Stacey, but he’s very likeable and, as a fellow novice, more ‘deserving’ of the trophy, at least in the eyes of some of the general public, than his more experienced competitors.
He also promised to dye his hair red to match hers if he reached the final…. we’re waiting, Joe!
Which brings us to Faye. Formerly one-fifth of Steps, Faye is most familiar to us for catchy songs and cheesy dance routines. However, a glance at her CV shows extensive dance and choreography experience, which has surely served her well when it comes to learning a ‘new’ dance each week.
It’s not surprising, therefore, that she has pulled some spellbinding performances out of the bag.
Along with the previously mentioned theatre/jazz number, she and Giovanni scored a perfect 40 for their ‘Lonely Goatherd’ Charleston in musicals week, and 39 for a dramatic Argentine Tango in the semi-final.
The majority of the general public prefer her to Ashley. Perhaps because Steps make us more nostalgic than the Pussycat Dolls, or maybe simply because, rightly or wrongly, we tend to vote for ‘one of our own’.
There’s also the fact that she seems to lack confidence, particularly early in the show, so we feel like we are on a journey with her, even if she’s not a novice.
Still, she’s unlikely to win, and her odds have plummeted as the judge’s marks have gone up to reflect this.
Ashley can’t win, probably literally.
Many viewers think it’s unfair to the other contestants that she was even asked.
Not only is she a trained dancer, she’s actually judged rival dance shows, including ITV’s Dancing on Ice.
Therefore, when she delivers a perfect routine, it’s only what is expected of her. When she shows she’s human and makes even the tiniest error, the public are up in arms that the judges are over marking her.
She was the first to get 40, for her flawless Jive in Blackpool, and was awarded another perfect score for her American Smooth in the semi-final.
However, she has received far more of a backlash than Faye. Perhaps this is in part because most of us have never seen Faye dance beyond Steps, whilst many of the same viewers watched the two seasons of Dancing on Ice Ashley judged.
The other reason? She’s American.
Every single celebrity winner of Strictly has been British.
It’s slightly baffling, then, that Ashley was everfavourite.
Stacey, Joe and Faye have each reached the final without landing themselves in even a single dance-off, whilst Ashley’s three consecutive turns, make her the heavy favourite to finish the final in last place.
The winner is usually decided (by the public) weeks earlier, when they pull off a ‘winning’ routine. For Jay McGuiness it was his Pulp Fiction Jive, but will Stacey’s emotional Les Miserables American Smooth earn her (and Kevin) that precious glitterball?
We’ll find out on Saturday!
Here’s where you can find all the bookmakers offering Strictly Come Dancing betting odds
A Boro fan from birth, Elle is a qualified sports journalist and the former editor of the now-defunct sports site ComeOnBoro.com and Sporting Preview. Her work and strong opinions have been published in The News of the World, The Observer and BBC Tees Radio. After work in PR, Elle returned to her roots as a copywriter as a Content and SEO Editor at ActiveWin Media.