'Strictly': Shock dance off as competition favourite lands in bottom two

(BBC)
(BBC)

Strictly Come Dancing almost lost one of its strongest contestants before quarter finals week as Ashley Roberts found herself in the dance off for the first time.

The Pussycat Doll and her partner Pasha Kovalev are the only couple to have scored a perfect 40 this series and regularly rack up points in the high 30s, but despite having won the Lindy Hop-a-thon, they landed in the bottom two after the public vote.

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Roberts and Kovalev went head to head with Graeme Swann and Oti Mabuse, who were finally knocked out after their fourth time in the dance off, but despite being saved by the judges the result doesn’t bode well for Roberts.

For weeks, Strictly fans have been losing patience with her high scores and the judges’ gushing praise, pointing out that her entire career was built on being a dancer as opposed to other celebrities this series who have no performing experience.

She finished Saturday night’s show in joint second place, so to have ended up in the bottom two instead of last placed Lauren Steadman, who was nine points below her, she must have got a very low number of viewer votes.

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Swann danced the Quickstep for a second time, but all four judges chose to keep Roberts for her Samba, with Craig Revel Horwood calling the decision “a no brainer”.

In his exit interview, Swann said: “I’d have voted for Ashley and Pasha as well. I can’t quite believe I was put against them, to be honest.”

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He joked: “Secretly, I’ve had 25 years of ballroom experience, but I decided to keep that to myself.

“Oti has just made me fall in love with this whole dance nonsense that I thought it was before. I absolutely adore you for that, I’ll never forget everything you taught and shouted at me for weeks and weeks.

“I’ve had the best of times, I’ve had the worst of times, it’s been very hard missing the kids and the wife. To be honest let’s face it, I was on borrowed time, unless I learned to fly or something I was never going to get past here.”

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Some fans took his joke about dance experience as a subtle dig at Roberts.

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Mabuse told him: “I’ve had the best season of my entire career on Strictly. I’ve never laughed so much, I’ve never been angry so much. I have the best friend in you.

“We might not have been the best dancers, but you have the spirit of Strictly.”

The show also included Sir Rod Stewart dropping by to sing his new track Farewell, although viewers struggled to hear some of his vocals which were even throatier than usual.

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It opened with a collaboration between the Strictly pros and dance company Candoco which features dancers with disabilities.

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By the time the results came in, the judges seemed to have recovered from their scoring debacle of the Lindy Hop-a-thon which saw their digital leaderboard break down, the scores announced in the wrong order, and Shirley Ballas forget a number of the stars’ names.

The show’s viewers have questioned for a while whether Roberts can win, despite being by far the best dancer in the competition, because she has drawn so much criticism for her clear advantage as a performer.

As the quarter finals arrive next week, the backlash over her dancing experience could see her place in the competition in trouble before we even reach the final.

Strictly Come Dancing continues next Saturday and Sunday with musicals week on BBC One.


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