Strictly Come Dancing 2015 – And Now, The End is Near…

And just like that, the weeks have flown by! It’s the day before the final and just over a week before the Christmas special. How did that happen?! We’ll obviously be live-tweeting along tomorrow, but before we do, here’s a round up of our pre-series predictions (they were pretty dire and we won’t be pursuing careers as psychics any time soon), and a whole set of new ones…

Caroline and Pasha
Caroline Flack and Pasha Kovalev lifted the trophy in 2014, but who’ll be the winners this year?
The Winner?

Marieke: I am thinking it has to be Jay. People keep saying it is so close, but I cannot see him not winning. He is great and his spins and arms are fabulous. I don’t find him so great in ballroom hold though… I do think Georgia is more of an all-rounder. But still, it will be Jay, and Aliona will hold a very precious record. I have to add I have no absolute favourite couple like I did last year with Caroline and Pasha.

Danielle: Jay has to be the favourite, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Georgia pipped him to the post. She’s been consistent throughout the competition and her confidence has grown at a steady pace. If she can hold her nerve, she may very well be the one to pick up that Glitterball trophy. After last week’s dances, I wouldn’t like to bet against Kellie and Kevin either.

Dance of the Series

Marieke: The one dance to remember. It has to be Jay’s jive. I adored that one and it is one of the few dances I watched again a couple of times. To me it felt like a 40 jive, which would have been reflected in the scores had it been performed later on in the series.

Jay pulp fiction jive
Jay McGuiness and Aliona Vilani dancing their Pulp Fiction-inspired jive.

Danielle: Jay’s jive was spectacular, but Georgia’s charleston to ‘Hot Honey Rag’ from Chicago was pretty damn special too. So was her reaction to the 10’s she got. Both were a joy to watch.

The New Professional Dancers

Marieke: Oti drew the short straw by dancing with an injured celebrity. I hope to see her with a better partner next year. Giovanni grew into the show, perhaps because of Len’s bollocking during one show. He did not deserve to go through that on live television, however. Leave that for behind the scenes next time, Len. Maybe Gleb should have had that bollocking instead? His dancing reminded me a lot of Artem’s, then I found out they had the same training. Figures! I do think Gleb ruined a place in the final with his last two choreographies. He stretched the rules too far at times and tried to implement a more Dancing with the Stars style of dancing which just does not go down well in Strictly. I hope he will have learned his lesson.

New Dancers
2015’s new professional dancers: Gleb Savchenko, Giovanni Pernice and Oti Mabuse.

Danielle: Gleb is a beautiful, beautiful man, but even his fiendish good looks can’t disguise the fact that his ‘experimental’ choreography probably cost Anita a place in the final. Rapped knuckles for you, sunshine! On the other hand, Giovanni became a solid member of the troupe, so much so that it’s hard to imagine a time when he wasn’t there now. I’d love to see so much more of Oti next year too. It was a shame she had little chance of progressing too far into the competition because of Anthony’s shoulder injury. I’m sure she has a hell of a lot more to give.

And now let’s a take a look back at those spectacularly accurate predictions we made before the series started:

First to Leave

Marieke: Jeremy Vine or Anthony Ogogo.

Danielle: Carol Kirkwood or Jeremy Vine.

Who Went?: Iwan Thomas.

Well, we both could not have been more wrong about Jeremy Vine and his surprisingly long tenure on this year’s competition. Apart from his last dance, we did enjoy watching him and he even made us warm to his partner, Karen, who hasn’t exactly been a favourite pro dancer in the past. He was far more watchable than ‘Hairy Biker Dave’, or any other celeb without any sense of rhythm we’ve been subjected to in recent years. Carol also surprised us and lasted quite long, but Marieke came the closest with her prediction about Anthony. Oti did her best, but there is only so much you can choreograph when your partner has one limb pretty much out of action.

Final Four

Marieke: Predicted an ‘all girls’ final’, but threw in Peter Andre and Ainsley Harriott in as possibilities.

Danielle: Georgia May-Foote, Helen George and Iwan Thomas.

The Final Four: Georgia May Foote, Kellie Bright, Katie Derham and Jay McGuiness.

It’s not quite an all girl’s final and instead of Peter Andre, it’s Jay who defends the male celeb honour, the guy who initially flew under the radar because of his nervousness. Danielle got Georgia right, but gets major minus points for Iwan!

Dark Horse

Marieke: Iwan Thomas

Danielle: Ainsley Harriott or Kellie Bright.

Actual Dark Horses: Kellie Bright and Katie Derham.

Again there was a horrifically wrong prediction about Iwan, and his early departure was made doubly sad now that we know he was Ola’s last partner on the show before she left. Ainsley had a minor shock exit which we both thought was a little too early. Who didn’t want to see him in the Halloween special? Undoubtedly though, this year’s real dark horse was Katie. I mean who the hell would have predicted that Anton would ever make the final?! Boy, do we wish we’d developed the ability to time travel and then put a bet on them being in the last four!

Performance/Issues with Nerves
Ainsley penguin
Ainsley Harriott struggling alongside his partner, Natalie Lowe: Penguins are evil and being one makes you forget an entire routine.

Marieke: Jay McGuiness

Danielle: Jay McGuiness

Those who struggled: Jay initially, Ainsley Harriott and Kirsty Gallacher.

We’re glad glad Aliona managed to unleash her ‘nerves away’ powers on Jay. It’s not that he wasn’t nervous at all after that, but that ‘rabbit in the headlights’ look from the opening show never surfaced again. Maybe Jay is the Anti-Samson and the haircut did the trick. Instead it was Ainsley who forgot the choreography of most of a dance, bless him, and Kirsty also let her nerves take over a couple of times.

Not a Surprise at all
Katie and Anton in Blackpool
Katie Derham and Anton du Beke dancing in Blackpool: Will he retire after reaching the final?

Pasha being paired with somebody like Carol, who was considered a rank outsider from the get-go, was something we both predicted because he’d won the previous year. What we didn’t expect was for them both to get to Week 8, which was in no small part down to her lovely, down-to-Earth nature and Pasha’s ardent fans, (including Danielle). But the biggest surprise obviously was Anton reaching the final, at least partially because of his own huge, ahem, fanbase.

First to Fly

Marieke: Daniel O’Donnell.

Danielle: Claudia Winkleman

Who actually flew first?: Pasha Kovalev

Perhaps thinking he wouldn’t last long, Pasha took the initiative and up he went into the air during the first show. If only it had been Claudia, but her weekly antics had to do!

First Ten
Bruno and perfect 10
Bruno and his ‘perfect 10’: he’d probably still be standing for that jive if the other judges and the production team hadn’t insisted he sit down.

Marieke: Helen George.

Danielle: Iwan Thomas or Peter Andre.

Who got the first ten?: Jay McGuiness.

Oh so close, and yet oh so far for Marieke. For a second we thought it was Helen, but Bruno gave a ten to Jay’s jive and it was hard to disagree with that one. That jive also showed most judges’ tendency to lean towards the “It’s still early, I can’t give a ten” bollocks. The least said about those Iwan predictions, the better.

Shock Exit

Marieke: Kellie Bright.

Danielle: Peter Andre.

The Actual Shock Exits: Ainsley Harriott, Peter Andre and Helen George.

Danielle got this one right about the bookie’s original favourite, i.e. Peter, but the even bigger shocks came from Ainsley and especially Helen, who, up until her final dance, looked set yo be a contender in the final.

All in all, this was a very entertaining Strictly year. A critical side note has to be made about the amount of trained dancers, nevertheless. It’s more of a critique of the audience here, who in previous editions have slated trained dancers (Natalie Gumede and Denise van Outen amongst others), whilst this year the likes of Jay were mostly left alone. Understandably, it is getting harder and harder to find celebrities, particularly male ones. Anthony’s presence and Joanne Clifton losing her spot on the show amongst the professionals proves that. There should be a good mixture of trained and untrained, which is difficult to get at this point. British men aren’t exactly renowned for their willingness to dance in public, let alone in front of several million people. There have also been cries about fixes again and there has been at least one unfairly judged dance off. Whether you like or dislike Jamelia, she didn’t deserve to lose to Peter, which meant that when the judges did judge the last dance off correctly, it was still a fix apparently. To be frank, Gleb is more to blame than the judges, but these controversies are all part and parcel of Strictly, as much as we wish they weren’t.

To end on a positive note, we can’t wait for the finale and hope it will live up to expectations. It Takes Two has also been excellent this year, and Zoe Ball was fabulous to watch every weekday. Next up after the finale is the Christmas special, with a fabulous line up. We’re waiting with baited breath for Allison Hammond and Robin Windsor’s dance! And then… a slight black hole will appear until it’s 2016. Still, before you know it, it will be August again, we’ll be making predictions and getting it wrong all over again. See you next year!

Don’t forget to interact with us during the finale @FezzyTV!

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