Oh, dear. What a disappointing finale. Following on from what had been one of the most competitive series in years where any one of the final seven could have taken The Glitterball, the finale to all proved to be a damp squib and Jay McGuiness was crowned the champion in what seemed to be a formality for much of the twelve weeks.
Kudos to Peter Andre, Helen George and Anita Rani, all of whom in other years would have made the final. (As much as I’m glad Peter didn’t so he couldn’t “just say” . . . ). Unfortunately Kellie Bright’s rampant over-marking became a theme over the last few weeks, presumably in a bid from the judges to get her to the final, but Jay’s technique had always been in another league, despite him scoring lowest on the final leaderboard.
The evening started with poor production decisions, requiring the couples to re-do dances that were arguably their worst (or their most improvable as it was sold to us) which left us with Jay’s gimmicky Quickstep, Georgia May Foote’s forgettable Rumba, Katie Derham’s Quickstep which was ALWAYS choreographically too hard for her and remained the same in the final, and Kellie Bright’s week one Tango which was, well . . . meh, but apparently worth a perfect 40 on this occasion. Similarly, the much anticipated showdances were a let-down too.
Not the ideal start to what should have been a celebration of a truly compelling series. The standard post Blackpool had rarely been seen before, scores rarely dropped below 30 and eliminations were simply down to whether the celebrity had a dance that suited them or not. Understandably viewers lapped it up, the final peaking at 11.9 million viewers, compared to the X Factor final last week peaking at a rather tragic 5.9 million for the first part.
Unbreakable Jamelia: Like most I found Jamelia arrogant and entitled at the start but as the weeks passed and she battled through dance offs three, four and the five, I began to rather admire her gutsy spirit and honesty in admitting “the public don’t like me”. Partner Tristan MacManus meanwhile smiled and nodded. Take a look at her Charleston, where her lack of technique worked in her favour.
The Gleb Specials: Ah, Gleb. A man that just keeps on giving. Firstly with his underwear range but he’s pretty exciting on the floor too. Since the departure of Artem two years ago the show has been lacking an exciting choreographer and he offered countless original routines over the course of the series. The final was less without a Gleb Showdance.
#YEAROFANTON: Yes, it finally happened, old Tony Beke made it to the end. It was a shame that Katie’s presence in the final wasn’t most epic of conquests. Sadly she only scored 31 for each of her dances which is the final is akin to a spit in the face. However, I want to commend Katie, firstly because getting Anton Du Beke to the final was a burden she carried from week one until the very end, and secondly because she’s my favourite. Let’s take a moment to admire what a magnificent role model she is, handling every situation with grace and elegance. She even made the filthy Rumba an act of classy intimacy. She never let the judge’s comments affect her, simply batted them away with a nod that implied “fair do’s, it wasn’t great.” Even on her fourth place elimination she was first to say “this is the right result” class until the end. Please, let’s now wheel off Anton to a nice golf club somewhere in the home counties.
Year of the “ringah”: It’s that age old discussion. Should those with previous training be allowed to participate in a show for beginners? I have always been pro stage schoolers being allowed in, it makes for a better quality show when some already have a level of technique. However the semi-final felt a little bitter sweet when the dance off was a battle between the two with no dance training prior to the show (Katie and Anita).
“Fix!”: Certainly in the latter half of the series just about every result prompted the cry of “fix” from the various tabloids. Jamelia losing out to Peter Andre in Blackpool – fix. Katie Derham being put through over Anita Rani in the semi-final – fix. Jay winning despite being bottom of the judge’s leaderboard and being, at best, uninspired in his final performances, Aliona Vilani’s Showdance consisting of a lazy rehash of his Rumba and Charleston – fix. But this is what the public voted for. Move on.
However despite these gripes, I genuinely believe Strictly is getting better each year. Yes, there are some dreadful themed weeks (however Around the World week wisely did not resurface this year) and those awful scripted VTs but we actually saw some raw unadulterated training footage at times this year and it made me rather giddy – people practising! The Saturday night sequins and rhinestones never fail to warm my heart. You know you’ll be back in September, I certainly will be.
First published on LondonDance.com