'Strictly's' quarter final is impossible to call - but who got a perfect 40?

Katie Archer

Strictly Come Dancing’s semi-final line-up is looking like an impossible one to call after an episode in which no couple dipped below a 35.

It was jazz hands all round tonight as the quarter finals took on a Musicals Week theme, with the remaining six celebrities looking to some of theatreland’s biggest hits for inspiration.

But with judges’ pet Ashley Roberts having landed in the bottom two last week and all six quarter-final couples scoring between 35 and full-marks 40 tonight, it looks like the closest contest in years.

One thing’s for sure though, no one will forget Giovanni Pernice’s lonely goatherd get-up in a hurry.

Saturday’s opening number was even more celebratory than usual, with all four judges in costume and dancing in a Mamma Mia! themed routine.

This is the tough end of the competition now, with the finals within touching distance and everyone desperate for a chance to lift the Glitterball Trophy.

Who looks set to breeze straight through to the semis, and who is likely to be in Sunday’s dance off? Here’s the episode as it happened.

Lauren Steadman and AJ Pritchard

Dance: American Smooth to I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy from South Pacific

What we thought: Lauren’s really managed to shrug off last week’s nightmare critique – this was one of her best routines.

She was like a completely different dancer tonight with a relaxed, light performance that she looked totally comfortable with.

Could this keep Lauren out of the dance off yet again?

What the judges thought: Shirley Ballas said: “From the bottom of the leaderboard to turning the heat up on the first number. It was outstanding.”

Bruno Tonioli said: “What a return to form. Welcome back to the big league.”

Score: 35

Faye Tozer and Giovanni Pernice

Dance: Charleston to Lonely Goatherd from The Sound of Music

What we thought: Oh, Giovanni. We’d almost like these two to be in the dance off just for maximum opportunity of seeing that outfit, make-up and wig again.

Obviously, it’s unlikely though as the routine was amazing. If you’d been living under a rock for the entirety of Steps’ chart reign, you wouldn’t be able to tell which of them was the pro and which was the celebrity.

What the judges thought: Craig Revel Horwood said: “I thought the goats were good, darling. You weren’t bad either.”

Darcey Bussell said: “I thought it was extraordinary. Every moment you reflected the characters. It was stunning to perfection.”

Score: 40

Charles Venn and Karen Clifton

Dance: Rumba to Maria from West Side Story

What we thought: We reckon Charles had the toughest job in the quarter finals, as the Rumba is just so difficult to like.

He rose to the challenge and did the best Rumba we’ve seen from a male celeb in quite a while (he was actually the first this series), but how can you compare to a showstopping Charleston?

Fingers crossed Charles gets the recognition he deserves, because that was an amazing effort for Strictly’s least favourite dance style.

What the judges thought: Craig said: “It’s the most masculine one we’ve ever seen, probably the best male celeb Rumba we’ve ever seen.”

Shirley said: “I thought your hip action was great. You took an extreme masculine role, a very brave role.”

Score: 35

Ashley Roberts and Pasha Kovalev

Dance: Quickstep to Don’t Rain on My Parade from Funny Girl

What we thought: How many times can we talk about how amazing Ashley is? It’s a given now that she’s going to do a perfect performance.

That being said, it was one of her most impressive routines (and there is a lot of competition for that title) – like the speed had been dialled up on everyone else’s Quickstep efforts.

Our only criticism is that it seemed like she was so shaken by being in last week’s dance off, she threw everything she could think of into this dance and at times, it seemed a little too much.

What the judges thought: Darcey said: “How you did not tire – that was so fast, and difficult. I loved it, great work.”

Shirley said: “For me, it was a little bit too busy in choreography. It needed some slower moments.”

Score: 38

Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton

Dance: American Smooth to I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables

What we thought: Surely Stacey is this year’s Queen of the Ballroom – she’s improving at an amazing rate each week, with next to no dance experience before the series started.

It isn’t just her technique, she takes on every character so naturally, and tonight was no exception.

What the judges thought: Shirley said: “There are sometimes in our lives we do something so natural, we capture it in our hearts and it stays there forever. That was one of those moments.”

Bruno said: “Forget about judging, it really was so special. It was unforgettable.”

Score: 38

Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell

Dance: Salsa to Joseph Megamix from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

What we thought: Loved it.

There were questions over how Joe would do in a Salsa as he often looks a bit awkward in Latin, but very wisely, they chose a witty routine that suited him perfectly.

A great closing number for the strongest show of the series so far.

What the judges thought: Craig said: “The Salsa part itself lacked fluidity. But you presented the number brilliantly.”

Bruno said: “Andrew Lloyd Wonderful!”

Score: 36

Strictly Come Dancing’s results show airs on Sunday, December 2 at 7.20pm on BBC One.

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