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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Michael Hogan

Strictly Come Dancing: week four results – as it happened

Jody Cundy and Jowita Przysta’s salsa.
Jody Cundy and Jowita Przysta’s salsa. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA

Halloween special at stake next weekend

Thanks for watching along with me, sparkly squadron. Our dancefloor dozen now progress to the fifth live show. It airs next Saturday at 6.35pm on BBC1, with the couples bidding to get through to the following weekend’s Halloween spooktacular.

Meet you back here to rate the twinkle-toed triumphs and slate the dance dis-ah-sters. In the meantime, it almost (but not quite) goes without saying: keeeeeeep dancing! Goodnight.

acanthe says of the dance-off: “What is happening to Strictly? Most weeks now, it’s the people in the bottom two who are in the dance off! It’s almost as if the viewing audience has seen it’s a dance contest.”

Yodaknowsall says: “The fact that Strictly has helped Krishnan find his ‘happy’ is one of the best things about this show.”

And ksym77 says of the fluffed lift and mistakes in the dance-off: “Oof. You have to feel for Jody. Having that happen in your last dance must be awful.”

On the pros’ group dance, Somersetlass says: “How stunning was that opening dance? Tender, romantic ... absolutely beautiful.”

Gardener_Maidhc agrees: “Aah. That was Heartstopper levels of cute and sweet. More please!”

ButterflyBlu says of the musical guest: “Gwarn Beverly. She was on FIRE! That was hand clapping, toe tapping, thigh slapping good.”

Readers’ verdicts

A rapid round-up of your comments. In Frockwatch news, fernzette says “Tess is a sequinned leek tonight.”

Canterbury345 says: “Love Claudia’s outfit - she’s obviously been to the fab Chanel exhibition at the V&A!”

neko99 adds: “Just realised Claud’s fringe is shorter than it’s ever been. We can see her whole eyes. So sad my mum didn’t live to see that. She commented on it every week for years! Drove her nuts. :D”


Tonight’s other telly treats

TV viewers can now flip to Handmade: Britain’s Best Woodworker on Channel 4, wildlife series Big Little Journeys on BBC2 or or stay on BBC1 for Antiques Roadshow from Crystal Palace Park.

At 9pm, schlockily gripping new drama The Ex-Wife debuts on Channel 5. At 10pm, Russell T Davies introduces his adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream on BBC4. Film of the night is Jordan Peele’s Us at 9pm on BBC2. Don’t have nightmares.

Champion also says cheerio

Polish pro Jowita Przystal might be the reigning glitterball champion, having won the 2022 contest with Hamza Yassin, but the pocket rocket departs early this year. She did her best with Jody, working well around both his disability and dance deficiencies. In a high-quality year, however, it wasn’t enough to make it past week four.

Still, they formed a sweet partnership and Jowita can probably expect a more promising partner next year. Her early exit also means we’re now likely to see her on the Christmas special. Only 70 shopping days left (sorry).

Eddie Kadi and Karen Hauer say their goodbyes to the eliminated couple.
Eddie Kadi and Karen Hauer say their goodbyes to the eliminated couple. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Gender parity now restored

We’re now left with a dancefloor dozen of six male celebrities and six females, which has pleasing symmetry. Equality – for now.

Jody deserved to depart

Now that his regular neighbours down the bottom of the scoreboard, Les Dennis and Nikita Kanda, have been packed off home, Jody Cundy’s exit had a certain air of inevitability. He’s been bottom of the scoreboard for the past two weeks and had never scored more than six. Totals of 21, 16, 20 and 19 points were elimination form.

He not only fought an infected leg and reduced rehearsal time last week but as a sportsman, struggled with Strictly’s performance side. It was a challenge to conquer his shyness and let loose, not least with the party salsa. Jowita ripping his shirt open and cleverly dancing around him couldn’t conceal he fact that Jody wasn’t a natural dancer.

His highlights were his week one foxtrot and Up-themed American smooth in Movie Week, where he was debonair with a decent frame. It was in Latin dances where his deficiencies showed. Getting the boot on his 45th birthday weekend might seem cruel but he can now concentrate on training for the 2024 Paralympics. Good luck and go well, Jody.

Jody Cundy and Jowita Przystal’s salsa.
Jody Cundy and Jowita Przystal’s salsa. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Sighs of relief from five celebrities

It wasn’t just Eddie Kadi who dodged a bullet there, crashing down to earth after scoring this year’s first 10 last week.

Clustered at joint third from bottom of the scoreboard were Ellie Leach, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Angela Scanlon and last week’s dance-off survivor Zara McDermott.

With Jody having been lifted out of danger by the public vote these last two weeks, that quartet must have been sweating a smidge. They’ll all be keen to climb back into the top half of the table next week.

Jody and Jowita's last dance

As the J-Team take their last turn around the ballroom floor to Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me by Elton John and George Michael, the credits roll and the other couples crowd in for cuddles. Please stay with us for analysis and reaction.

Jowita and Jody’s last dance.
Jowita and Jody’s last dance. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Jowita the weeper

His pro partner and “head coach” Jowita Przystal returns the compliment: “I cannot describe how proud I am of you, Jody. From day one until tnow, it’s an enormous improvement. I hope from now on, when you go out and hear the music, you’re not going to hide anywhere. You’re going to go on that dancefloor and give it all. And I hope that one day when you look back at all of this, you be proud of yourself. That will be my biggest achievement.”

Aww. Expect to see Jody on a dancefloor near you soon. He’ll be the one with an open yellow shirt, waxed chest and wiggling pecs.

Jody’s exit speech

In a gracious farewell interview, Jody Cundy tells Tess: “I thought ‘What on earth am I signing up for?’ Then we did that first live show and I absolutely loved every second of it. Just being able to dance, do something I’ve never done before and get completely out of my comfort zone. This amazing person has got so much energy. Every morningat the start of training, and she’s like “bam!”. She comes into the room like an absolute cannonball and just doesn’t stop the whole day. She doesn’t lose faith and motivates me to do more and more. I’ve had an absolute blast.”

Nicely said, sir.

Tess Daly, Jody Cundy and Jowita Przystal.
Tess Daly, Jody Cundy and Jowita Przystal. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Head judge Shirley Ballas agrees

Twirly Shirley confirm that she would also have decided to save Eddie, so it’s unanimous. We’re yet to have a split decision this year.

Jody Cundy is eliminated

There we have it. Jody Cundy CBE becomes this year’s third celebrity to depart the dancefloor.

Anton Du Beke choose to save…

Eddie and Karen, saying “one couple danced very well and one couple had an off night with a couple of mistakes”.

Motsi Mabuse chooses to save…

Eddie and Karen, saying “for me, it’s a very clear decision, they were much, much stronger”.

Craig Revel Horwood chooses to save…

Eddie and Karen, “for their improvement and musicality”.

Decision time

Did Jody do enough to close that five-point gap? I doubt it but let’s consult the experts.

The dance-off couples await their fate.
The dance-off couples await their fate. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Eddie’s dance looks better second time around. Frame has slightly improived, I think.

Eddie takes his turn

Pink-trousered, double bass-bothering Eddie Kadi and his dance partner Karen Hauer reprise their American smooth to Sex Bomb by Tom Jones.

The judges said last night that he had style in the solo and side-by-side sections but was a flat-footed dance dis-ah-ster in hold. He scored 24 points, five more than Jody, so surely just needs to get through the routine without any major hiccups.

Karen Hauer and Eddie Kadi’s American smooth.
Karen Hauer and Eddie Kadi’s American smooth. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Jody goes first in dance-off

Jody Cundy and his pro partner Jowita Przystal have another go at their feather-waving, shirt-ripping, streamer-falling salsa to Samba de Janeiro by Bellini.

The judges said last night that it was lumpy and lacked fluidity but with well-executed lifts, awarding it just 19 points. At least the birthday boy got a cake and singalong to compensate.

Jody Cundy and Jowita Przystal’s salsa.
Jody Cundy and Jowita Przystal’s salsa. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Angela Scanlon and Carlos Gu have become a close partnerahip. Nigel Harman has become everyone’s meditation mentor and breathing guru. Never saw that coming when he was Mini-Den in EastEnders. Get outta my pub. Namaste.

Angela Rippon is dancing the Argentine tango next week. Shut the front door, this could be spectacular.

Ellie Leach explains how Amanda Abbington has become her surrogate Strictly mum. Aww. Amanda pays sweet tribute to her school drama teacher’s support. Aww again.

Krishnan tels Claudia how Strictly has been life-changing and how his wife has never seen him happier. Or wearing so much guyliner.

Jody Cundy faces Eddie in dreaded dance-off

As predicted by bookies, the Paralympian is consigned to the dance-off for the first time. Voting viewers agreed with the judges, since Jody and Eddie were the bottom two scorers last night and haven’t been saved by the public.

Whuch means it’s either Krishnan Guru-Mirthy or Jody Cundy in the dance-off.

Angela Rippon and Ellie Leach are also returning next week.

Red light of doom is back

Who will face Eddie Kadi in the dance-off? It’s not Nigel Harman, Angela Scanlon or Amanda Abbington who are safely through. Thank you x 3.

Anton Du Beke stresses the importance of breathing during a dance. Shirley hails Zara McDermott’s hard work. Motsi justifies her 10 for Layton Williams’ cha cha. Craig Revel Horwood praises Adam Thomas’ breakthrough waltz.

Dance debrief

The judges decamp to the Clauditorium for a closer look at last night’s routines. Loving Motsi Mabuse’s sparkly boots. Shirley Ballas is in mauve frou-frou, which is all a bit Liz McDonald from Corrie.

Beverley trills

Musical performance now from Brit soul lungsmith Beverley Knight, aka the Wolverhampton Whitney. She’s singing I’m On Fire, not to be confused with the Bruce Springsteen classic. This one’s from her recent album The Fifth Chapter, with backing vocals from members of the London Community Gospel Choir.

Beverley’s look is quite Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Katya Jones and Gorka Marquez are on dance duties.

Layton’s social media algorithm keeps showing him Latin and ballroom dances. Claudia’s is basically baby otters. Relatable.

Everyone seems sad to see Eddie in the dance-off. Clearly a popular guy. Annabel Croft’s children have sent in a video of her practising at home in her frankly enormous kitchen. Sweet.

Adam Thomas jokes that he thought it would be Layton Williams. He also reveals that he’s doing a Couple’s Choice next week to a Backstreet Boys megamix. Mmm, classy.

Eddie Kadi is in the dance-off

Eddie and Karen Hauer are consigned to the dance-off for the first time. But who will he be up against? If it’s not Jody Cundy, I fear for him.

Layton Williams is safe too.

Bobby Brazier, Adam Thomas and Annabel Croft are also returning next week.

Dancing red light of doom

Hold tight, it’s time for loooong… dramatic… pauses, relieved hugs and grateful looks to camera. Zara McDermott is first to go safely through and Graziano gets a bit shouty in celebration.

Our Strictly stars™

Our couples await their fates Angela Rippon’s big bouffante and Layton Williams’ disco overalls still present and correct

Last night’s live show rewound

A recap of Saturday night’s action on-screen now. The Rippon rumba, complete with shoe malfunction! Nigel Harman’s spicy salsa! Annabel Croft’s stylish 60s jive! Adam Thomas waltzing into third spot! Krishnan Guru-Murthy channelling Juan the macho matador! Let’s all say hi to his embarrassed teenage son Jay.


Here’s our two-headed hosting hydra, so let’s do our couture comparison. Tess Daly is in a one-shouldered grass-green sparkly frock. Claudia Winkleman is in a white Chanel-style jacket with diamante buttons and 70s collar. Claud wins.

Aww. A tender embrace to finish.

Pros get passionate

We open with a romantic group number from the professional troupe. It’s a beautiful, sensitively portrayed love story. Nikita Kuzmin is in love with his best friend Vito Coppola. The pair have been pals for 15 years, so they’re bringing their real-life chemistry to it.

It’s a musical theatre-style routine, set on a rooftop, with sheets draped all around and a slanted set which must be tricky to dance on. The music is Something Just Like This by Coldplay & Chainsmokers.

Aaaaand we’re off!

Roll clap-along credits. One of these smiling pairs will be wobbly-lipped in approximately 40 minutes. But which?

Call any pottering family members in from the kitchen. Wake up any post-roast dozers. We’re about to return to the Elstree Studios ballroom…

A murmuration is basically an avian group dance, right?

If you had “plug for the Countryfile calendar” on your own personal bingo card, drink.

Cosy rural favourite Countryfile drawing to a close on BBC1 right now. Bats in the belfry, by the looks of it.

Five minutes until we swap wellies for dancing shoes…

Layton set two records last night

Send for Roy Castle and the McWhirter twins. It was a record-breaking Saturday live show for Layton Williams, whose routine notched 37 points - the highest score of the series so far, including the earliest ever perfect 10 for a cha cha cha. His “Disco Yeti” costume was just a spangly bonus.

A mere ten minutes now until sequin o’clock

What no Tomasz Schafernaker on the Countryfile weather? Is nothing sacred?

It's Sunday Knight again

Tonight’s musical guest is Brit soul diva Beverley Knight, who also appeared as part of the Tina Turner tribute a fortnight ago. She should get a season ticket for the fast train to Borehamwood.

Start gently stretching and getting your game face on. Fifteen minutes until we’re back in the ballroom

Jittery time for Jody

Coming into this weekend, bookmakers’ odds-on favourite for elimination was Jody Cundy. He duly finished five points adrift at the bottom of the standings after a buffly bare-chested but technically ropy salsa.

However, the Paralympic hero has escaped the dance-off for the last two weeks, so could viewer votes come to his rescue again? And might we see our first dance-off shocker of the series? 20 minutes until showtime

Third elimination beckons

England’s Rugby World Cup adventure might continue (sorry, Wales and Ireland) but someone’s Strictly odyssey is about be over.

Good evening and welcome to the third results show of Strictly Come Dancing 2023. I’m Michael, your sequins and spraytans correspondent. Please watch along with me as the third celebrity gets the ballroom boot.

Following last night’s high-quality hoofing, our 13 pro-celebrity couples will soon become a dancefloor dozen. The judges’ scores have been combined with the public vote. Tonight, the bottom two pairings will dance off for survival. So who’s in danger?

Jody Cundy was left propping up the scoreboard for the second week running after his damp squib salsa, with Eddie Kadi second from bottom. But will the voting viewers agree? If not, the likes of Zara McDermott, Ellie Leach, Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Angela Scanlon - all of whom were joint third from bottom - could come into contention

It’s showtime at 7.15pm on BBC One. I’ll be liveblogging from 6.45pm, providing build-up, rolling coverage, analysis, reaction and mild mickey-taking. So snuggle up on this autumnal evening and see you on the sofa.

As ever, I’d love to hear from you too. You can tweet me @michaelhogan, email me at and the comments section below is open for ballroom badinage. I’ll shoulder-shimmy down there occasionally to gauge your reaction to the show and report on your comments.

Let’s swap oval balls for glitterballs. Nearly time to staaaaaart eliminating!

Thank you and goodnight

That concludes Saturday’s liveblog but the weekend’s dance action is far from over. See you back here for the results show, which airs 7.15pm Sunday on BBC1. I’ll kickstart the blog at 6.45pm for build-up, so please rejoin me then. In the meantime, I’m @michaelhogan on Twitter, so do foxtrot by and say hello.

Thanks again for watching along with me and your truly excellent company. See you tomorrow but in the meantime, you know the sparkly score: keeeeeep dancing!

Tunes and yours truly on TV

TV viewers can flip to BBC2 now for more music, with Mary J Blige At The BBC currently on-air. That’s followed by First Ladies of Hip Hop at 9.30pm, then Later With Jools Holland at 10.30pm.

At 9.30pm on Channel 5, a certain Strictly liveblogger pops up on sitcom nostalgia-fest Man About the House: 50 Years Of Laughs. Just in case you haven’t had enough of me this evening,

Film-wise, tonight’s picks are Knives Out at 9.30pm on Channel 4 and Lady Bird at 12.10am on BBC1. Set your Betamax videobox if you haven’t had the pleasure.

Zara and the boys in dance-off danger

Scores will now be combined with the public vote and the bottom two couples will face the dreaded dance-off™ on Sunday evening. According to the judges’ scores, it’s Jody Cundy and Eddie Kadi who deserve the red spotlight of doom.

Zara McDermott was vastly improved but as a dance-off survivor and joint third bottom, still might not be safe. Krishnan Guru-Murthy scored the same as Zara. Surely he’ll have enough viewer support to be safe?

Zara McDermott and Graziano Di Prima.
Zara McDermott and Graziano Di Prima. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Finally, La Rippon once again went down a storm with you wise commenters. Lidoswimmer says: “Angela Rippon is 79...79! She even made me forget to look at Kai, which is a feat.”

fihema adds: “I love the fact that I’m sitting watching Angela Rippon dance to Conchita Wurst with ‘a very much younger man’. HA! Something good had to come out of 2023.”


When it comes to Bobby Brazier’s tango, MarkRoche says: “Bobby looked really nervous - for me, not his best.”

Derek Zoolander fan MikeMoonlight adds: “Bobby channelling his inner catwalk model there. Apparently, if he wins Strictly this year, he’s promised to use it as a platform for opening his long-cherished Bobby Brazier Centre For Kids Who Can’t Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too.”

On Layton’s leaderboard-topping cha cha cha, wtrukus simply says “Layton = Sparkly yeti”

IvanTiger says: “Again Layton dances better than the pro. Great outfit, btw.”

McCulloch29 adds: “Holy moly, I enjoyed that routine from Nikita and Layton. Breathtaking.”

Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin.
Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Owbeck says “Have to say that choreography brought out the best in Annabel, Jojo is just fab.”

Lushattic says: “Swing band version of Sex Bomb? Good lord.”

Jagadox says: “There is much to be said for a man who can rock a pair of pink trousers. Eddie can certainly do it, but not so sure about his dance this week.”


TiggyStardust says: “My favourite part of Krishnan’s entry is the teenage baiting. Reminds me why I love the ringleader/ troublemaker Clauds.”

Fresh from a shift serving tonic wine and sponge fingers at Acorn Antiques, BoadiceaOverall says: “I want Annabel’s frock - and Johannes to wear it with.”

avenueman adds: “Hearing Zara sobbing at the end of her dance, proving I guess how much this all means to her, makes me want to invest in her journey (klaxon) more than before. A decent effort I thought this week.”

Readers’ verdicts are in

A snappy vox pop of your comments. G1adys says: “Good start from Ellie. Hope voters still remember her by the time those voting lines open. I’m a little scared she may find herself in the middle of the board having gone out first.”

Strictlylounging says of that Fleetwood Mac foxtrot: “I really like Joe Varney and Amanda and I love this song, but don’t think the song was the best match for this dance. She’s still a brilliant dancer, though.”

Yodaknowsall adds: “A fun salsa from Jody, unfortunately there was no hip action. Lifts were great though. Jody’s chest is on par with the professionals.”

And I agree with Lidoswimmer, who says: “I really like Anton as a judge but he does seem to be channelling Bruno more than usual tonight.”

It’s only the Golden Glitterballs!

They’re the awards that everyone wants. Sort of. Here are this week’s gong recipients…

Best dance: Layton Williams topped the scoreboard and Nigel Harman bounced back into contention but my votes go to Angela Rippon’s birthday rumba and Adam Thomas, who waltzed his way from dance-off danger into the top three.

Worst dance: Jody Cundy or Eddie Kadi. Bottom two on the scoreboard and by some distance the night’s weakest, I’m afraid.

Best music choice: A strong playlist included Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie, Whitney Houston, Tom Jones, Conchita Wurst and the first time that Red Hot Chili Peppers have ever been played on Strictly. But as a secret Fanilow myself, it has to be Copacabana. But who shot who?

Worst music choice: Sex Bomb. The slightly ropy version of Bowie’s Fashion in second place. Also: why the Peggy Lee version of You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me and not Dusty Springfield’s classic?

Best outfit: A dead heat between Zara McDermott’s frock with maribou feathered hem in shades of grey, and Layton Williams’ sparkly jumpsuit. Bronze medal to Annabel Croft’s swinging 60s number. Gratuitous mention for Vito’s bare chest beneath his pink jacket.

Worst outfit: Angela Scanlon’s dress disappointed. Motsi Mabuse’s outsize sparkly power-suit in second place. Sorrynotsorry.

Best judges’ comment: “If you lot can’t boo properly, then don’t bother,” drawled Craig. Cue louder panto booing. “Now I feel at home,” he said approvingly.

Worst VT: More informative than usual with extra dance lessons from the pros. But Amanda and Giovanni’s car share was no Peter Kay’s. Eddie Kadi’s stand-up set to a Karen-shaped audience of one was also awkz.

Best Claudia quip: Her continuing obsession with Krishnan Guru Murthy’s teenage son.


Final scoreboard

Big gaps at either end. Layton Williams in front by a four-point margin, followed by Nigel Harman and Adam Thomas in an all-male top three.

Down the bottom, it’s Jody Cundy again, then a five-point gap to Eddie Kadi. And then a four-point gap to a cluster of couples: Ellie Leach, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Zara McDermott and Angela Scanlon.

If Jody and Eddie get enough viewer votes, there could be a dance-off shock or two.

Credits roll

“Keeeeeep dancing,” trill Tess and Claud as per. As everyone catches their breath and Michael McIntyre’s squealy wheel spins into view on BBC1, please stay with us for analysis, reaction and a round-up of your comments.

And the voting lines are… open!

Cue pandemonium and brilliantly deadpan Craigface.

Judges’ comments for Bobby and Dianne: Shirley says “lovely flex in the knees, strong start but inconsistent frame, outstanding”. Anton says “didn’t break hold, really good and flat, need more stillness and sharpness”. Craig says “lack of focus and intent, I could see the mechanics, great dance but not sold to me”. Motsi concludes “I agree with Mr Craig, lost entertainment factor and left the dance too bare, push it to the next level”. Sevens and eights? Bobby admits it’s been a tough week in training.

Judges’ scores: 7, 7, 8, 8 for a total of 30 points. Top half.

Bobby Brazier and Dianne Buswell.
Bobby Brazier and Dianne Buswell. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Bobby and Dianne’s tango

The EastEnder and young Mick Jagger-alike is this week’s cover star of Grazia, magazine lovers. And he’s last out tonight. Bobby taps into his male modelling experience by strutting his stuff on the catwalk to start, then into hold. Red-clad. He’s got the requisite snarling moodiness and presence but is there enough staccato, snap and bite? The couple’s height difference must be a challenge to work with. Gapping issues. Sticky-out bum. Counting aloud. Better finish but a lot of stomping around for me.

Song: Fashion by David Bowie. The chameleon of pop’s 1980 hit with Robert Fripp on lead guitar. A critic called it “the best David Bowie song that David Byrne never wrote”. The Spice Girls covered it and it soundtracked the tribute to the British fashion industry during the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremony. We are the goon squad and we’re coming to town, beep beep.


Judges’ comments for Angela R and Kai: Anton says “elegant lines, fabulous feet, gorgeous”. Craig says “I’m getting Jessica Lange in American Horror Story in a good way, totally loved that”. Motsi says “ripping the dancefloor and ripping your shoes, who could not love that? Elgeant, divine, you’re a message for all women saying don’t stop, life is good. Next time, more body movement but you’r star”. Shirley concludes “could have been more flexible but those swivels and bevels, you understand balance, so graceful, I’m in shock”. Eights?

Judges’ scores: 8, 7, 8, 8 for a total of 31 points. Joint fourth as it stands.

Angela Rippon and Kai Widdrington’s rumba.
Angela Rippon and Kai Widdrington’s rumba. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Angela R and Kai’s rumba

Angela Rippon turned 79 on Thursday, Can she celebrate with a Rippon rumba? After last week’s Sound Of Music number, it’s another Austrian performance soundtrack. Angela hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 1977, which could be a good omen. Slow and exposing, this dance is all about quality, not quantity. CGI projections, flames and big hair for extra drama. Great legs and balance as we’ve come to expect. Sliding splits and amazing spins. Lacking some ooze and undulation but seriously sizzling. Ooof. Slight shoe strap malfunction and all.

Song: Rise Like A Phoenix by Conchita Wurst, poperatic winner of Eurovision 2014. There was outrage in certain quarters at bearded Conchita’s performance, with a Russian petition calling for their national broadcaster to edit it out because Eurovision had become “a hotbed of sodomy at the initiation of European liberals”. That’s us, gang. It duly became Austria’s first winner for 48 years - and the first winner without backing singers or dancers since 1970. Holding the trophy aloft, Conchita proclaimed: “We are unity and we are unstoppable”. Yas kween, indeed.

Angela Rippon and Kai Widdrington.
Angela Rippon and Kai Widdrington. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Judges’ comments for Angela S and Carlos: Motsi says “effort took away the emotion, too skippety and hopping”. Shirley says “you didn’t lower one heel, you have to understand the footwork, exhale and release your weight”. Anton says “emotion was there, need more sweep, got too tense and clipped”. Craig concludes “too balletic and spiky, smooth it out but you’re a gorgeously watchable dancer”. Oh dear. Harsh. Sixes?

Judges’ scores: 7, 7, 7, 7 for a total of 28 points. Better than those comments made it sound.

Angela Scanlon and Carlos Gu.
Angela Scanlon and Carlos Gu. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Angela S and Carlos’ Viennese waltz

Last week’s leaderboard-toppers change gears from a fast, funny Charleston to a slow, emotive number. Angela has been better at Latin than ballroom so far. She needs to nail the frame and footwork but look soft and naturally flowing at the same time. Woodland theme with CGI butterlies. She’s in a lovely green frock. Solo section floaty and ethereal, then into hold for gentle movement across the floor. Long run of spins in front of the judges. Topline wobbled a tad and footwork lacking but sweet storytelling.

Song: You Are The Reason by Calum Scott & Leona Lewis. Scott’s 2017 single which he rerecorded as a duet with the Grammy-nominated X Factor winner the following year.


Judges’ comments for Nigel and Katya: Craig says “fumbled the final moment, I’m getting proper Patrick Swayze vibes”. Motsi says “you stole my line, intense body movement, powerful from the inside”. Shirley says “you’re quite the competitor and pulled your socks up, rhyhtm and musicality fantastic, need neater foot positions but overall well done”. Nigel concludes “welcome back, yes, I was going to say Swayze too”. Eights? A nine?

Judges’ scores: 8, 9, 8, 8 for a total of 33 points. “I came back out of my shell like a little turtle” says Nigel adorably. Second at this point.

Nigel Harman and Katya Jones.
Nigel Harman and Katya Jones. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Nigel and Katya’s salsa

After a strong start to the contest, actor Nigel Harman’s scores have been going in the wrong direction. Can a salsa help him halt that decline? Slightly awkward solo sections to start, then into a salsa with arm-ography, swagger and lots of hip action. A good time streetdance with down ’n’ dirty grinding. The first lifts he’s done go well. Timing good. Confidence great. Amazing spinning, dipping lift to finish. Phew.

Song: Suavemente by Elvis Crespo. The 1998 Spanglish merengue hit’s title translates as “smoothly”, for all you Duolingo users.

Nigel Harman and Katya Jones’ salsa.
Nigel Harman and Katya Jones’ salsa. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Judges’ comments for Layton and Nikita: Shirley says “partnering skills and teamwork, you are back in the game”. Anton says “for goodness sake, just brilliant”. Craig says “Million Dollar Bill, million dollar dance”. Motsi concludes “everyone was going ooh, soft but strong, you add different flavour, I could watch you day and night”. Nines ahoy?

Judges’ scores: 9, 10 (second of the series), 9, 9 for a total of 37 points. Highest score of the serie and the earliest 10 for a cha cha in Strictly history. Wowsers. Well deserved.

Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin’s cha cha cha.
Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin’s cha cha cha. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Layton and Nikita’s cha cha cha

He’s relieved to be out of hold for the first time in the three weeks and a Latin disco number should suit him. After the judges repeatedly picked up on his footwork, Layton has been working hard on his technique, partnering skills and leg action. Fabulous fringed sparkly jumpsuit. Lots of sass and energy, beautiful arms but the judges will be busy peering at those feet. He does the whisk move then a straddle jump into the splits. Was it a pure cha cha cha? It was certainly fantastic. Three bottom-slaps of congratulation from Nikita.

Song: Million Dollar Bill by Whitney Houston. ”One of her last bops”, according to Layton. The 2009 single was written by Alicia Keys and samples house diva Loleatta Holloway (of Black Box’s Ride On Time fame).

Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin.
Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Judges’ comments for Eddie and Karen: Motsi says “you’ve got style, side-by-side strong but in hold the level lower”. Shirley says “light on your feet, stylish in solo but flat feet and a dance disaster in hold”. She gets booed but I agree. Anton says “jazzy, you partnered Karen well but ballroom hold needs a lot of work”. Craig concludes “freestyle magnificent but a dis-ah-ster in hold”. Fives or sixes? Certainly no 10s this week.

Judges’ scores: 4, 7, 6, 7 for a total of 24 points. Those sevens were generous. Eddie is doing X Factor-style phone-hands on the balcony. Sweet, sweet memories of Eoghan Quigg.

Karen Hauer and Eddie Kadi’s American smooth.
Karen Hauer and Eddie Kadi’s American smooth. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Eddie and Karen’s American Smooth

British-Congolese comic Eddie Kadi scored the first 10 of the series for his Men In Black Couple’s Choice routine. And yes, it was too early, Shirley. His pro partner Karen Hauer went “what?” when score came in. The last time she notched a maximum was also a streetdance, with Jamie Laing. Double bass-ography to start. Jazzy, swaying and soulful, foxtrot style with a slower tempo. Quick-quick-slow timing, nice mood and lifts but frame and footwork leave a little to be desired. Hunched shoulders and gapping galore. Much better out of hold where he’s got real panache. A mixed bag for me.

Song: Sex Bomb by Tom Jones. A laidback, swing-style version of the 1999 hit written and produced by German-Turkish DJ Mousse T.

Karen Hauer and Eddie Kadi.
Karen Hauer and Eddie Kadi. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Judges’ comments for Annabel and Jojo: Craig says “I thought you’d struggle but you proved me wrong, upper body needs more energy but you gave it some welly, loved the chicken walks”. Motsi says “neat and elegant but you held back, give us some spice”. Shirley says “all the basics, go outside your box, shift your energy and be more expressive”. Anton concludes “just great, precise and beautiful”.

Judges’ scores: 7, 7, 7, 8 for a total of 29 points. Still no jive in the 30s this year but she’s third at the midway point.

Johannes Radebe and Annabel Croft’s jive.
Johannes Radebe and Annabel Croft’s jive. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Annabel and Jojo’s jive

After their lovely Breakfast At Tiffanys waltz last week, it’s a starkly contrasting number. No jive has scored in the 30s yet this series. Can Annabel change that? Monochrome outfits, slow opening on the stage before the jive content starts. Fun, fast and frantic with a 60s vibe but she’s almost too elegant, lacking retraction and sharpness in the kicks and flicks. A bit ploddy perhaps but a fabulous cartwheel to finish and so stylishly danced.

Song: Feel It Still by Portugal. The Man. The Alaskan activist rock band’s 2017 sleeper hit borrows the melody from the Marvelettes’ Please Mr Postman and reached number three in the UK singles chart.

Johannes Radebe and Annabel Croft’s jive.
Johannes Radebe and Annabel Croft’s jive. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Judges’ comments for Zara and Graziano: Anton says “gorgeous beginning, lovely flekerl and reverse turn, frame not bad, lots to like but head position too turned”. Craig says “too Skippy the kangaroo but loved it”. Motsi says “sensual, soft, you’ve improved so much in performance but got tight in hold, breathe, let go and trust Graziano”. Shirley concludes “fly flat but lovely contra-check, your best dance so far, extra tick for coming from the bottom two”. Sevens, do we reckon?

Judges’ scores: 7, 7, 7, 7 for a total of 28 points. Her best yet. Deserved to be safe but will she be? Zara is sweetly tearful.

Zara McDermott and Graziano Di Prima.
Zara McDermott and Graziano Di Prima. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Zara and Graziano’s Viennese waltz

Love Island alumna and dance-off survivor Zara McDermott took a knock to her confidence after last week’s not-so-purrfect Puss In Boots paso. Can being back in hold help her bounce back? She’s been working hard on her pivots and conquering her dizziness in training. Hot and dramatic opening. Takes to long to get into hold and dry ice hiding a multitude of footwork sins but spinning, romantic and rather lovely.

Song: You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me by Brenda Lee. Dusty Springfield’s 1966 hit was originally an Italian song but the English lyrics were written by Simon Napier-Bell, who later managed Wham!. He gave the same title to his 1960s memoir. Unhappy with the sound booth’s acoustics, Dusty recorded her vocals in the studio stairwell.

Zara McDermott and Graziano Di Prima’s Viennese waltz.
Zara McDermott and Graziano Di Prima’s Viennese waltz. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Judges’ comments for Krishnan and Lauren: Shirley says “sharp and crisp but need more flow, you look magnificent”. Anton says “amazing” and makes a series of undignified noises. Craig says “not a fan of open counting, you hit the positions but live through them, you presented really well”. Motsi concludes “showed us a different side, intention on point, well done”. Sevens and an overexcited eight from Anton?

Judges’ scores: 6, 7, 7, 8 (told you!) for a total of 28 points. Likely to be mid-table again.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Lauren Oakley.
Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Lauren Oakley. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Krishnan and Lauren’s paso doble

He donned make-up for a Cabaret Charleston last week. Now the Channel 4 newsreader must strut proudly for a matador number. Chin up, chest out, Krish. A spicy song for a spicy dance and some pyrotechnic percussion for added drama. He’s playing a macho character called Juan to help his embody the mood. Nice intent but too much walking around and lacks banana shape. Handclaps, knee walks and strong finish.

Song: By The Way by Red Hot Chili Peppers - the first time they’ve ever been played on Strictly, surprisingly. The 2002 single got to number two here in the UK. Its taxi kidnapping-themed video was based on Mexican cult film Amores Perros. Olé!

Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Lauren Oakley’s paso doble.
Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Lauren Oakley’s paso doble. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Judges’ comments for Amanda and Gio: Motsi says “you two never disappoint, beautiful but feet slightly turned out, the floor is your best friend”. Shirley says “fabulous topline and head position but ballet feet, how lovely”. Anton says “perfect head position but you stopped breathing and got tense”. Craig concludes “felt like dressage, your feet were coming up too much but beauitful musicality and gaw-jus frame”. Will they fall into that 29-32 point range again?

Judges’ scores: 7, 8, 8, 8 for a total of 31 points, bang in their consistent scoring zone.

Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice’s foxtrot.
Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice’s foxtrot. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Amanda and Gio’s foxtrot

She conquered the notoriously tricky rumba last week. Now actress Amanda Abbington is back to ballroom for the first time since week one. She and Giovanni Pernice are a very consistent partnership, scoring 29 to 32 points each week so far. The judges will be looking for a well-maintained frame and impeccable footwork. All white outfits, sweet mood and storytelling but frame wobbles in a couple of spots. Impressive run of fleckerls and cheeky side-by-side section to end.

Song: Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac. A number four single off their classic 80s album Tango In The Night, written by Christie McVie, who performs lead vocals. When she sadly passed away last year, bandmate Stevie Nicks said McVie had been her “best friend in the whole world”. Sob.

Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice.
Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Judges’ comments for Jody and Jowita: Craig says “lumpy and lacked fluidity but loved the lifts”. Motsi says “ripped the shirt off, then got all shy about it, gotta get jiggy with it, wanted more rhythm”. Shirley says “happy birthday, lifts executed well but didn’t keep it going”. Anton concludes “pectoral timing was immaculate, you were admiring Jowita but well done”. Fives and sixes, are we saying?

Judges’ scores: 3 (boo!), 5, 5, 6 for a total of 19 points. Dance-off danger. He gets a birthday cake and song in the Clauditorium to compensate.

Jody Cundy and Jowita Przystal’s salsa.
Jody Cundy and Jowita Przystal’s salsa. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Jody and Jowita’s salsa

The decorated Paralympian finished bottom of the scoreboard last week but was lifted clear of the dance-off by viewer votes. Tonight happens to be his 45th birthday, so what better way to celebrate than the Cuban party dance? He needs to conquer his shyness and let loose. Feathered fans, then Jowita rips open his shirt, hoping that Jody’s impressively ripped physique will distract from his dance deficiencies. She’s doing all the dancing but daring lifts, if a lack of Latin spice.

Song: Samba de Janeiro by Bellini. The German girl band’s infernally catchy 1997 hit is often as a goal celebration song in football, so feel free to do a knee-slide in your sitting room.

Jody Cundy and Jowita Przystal.
Jody Cundy and Jowita Przystal. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Judges’ comments for Adam and Luba: Anton says “I’m stunned at how much you’ve improved, best topline this series”. Craig says “Adam, that is a bit more like it. Welcome to the competition, darling”. Motsi says “your best dance yet, now keep going”. Shirley concludes “beautiful lines, calm, improved footwork, need more drive from your standing foot but I’m gobsmacked”. Eights a-coming?

Judges’ scores: 8, 8, 8, 8 for a total of 32 points. His best so far. By far. Jubilation in the Clauditorium.

Adam Thomas and Luba Mushtuk.
Adam Thomas and Luba Mushtuk. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Adam and Luba’s waltz

Actor Adam Thomas whips off the velcro Super Mario moustache (ouch) for a romantic routine. He needs to reign in his puppyish energy and show his softer side. Gliding around the floor but odd bit of faltering footwork means he lacks that fluid ease of movement. The waltz is slow and exposing technically but he handled it well and scrubbed up handsomely. A pleasant surprise.

Song: I Wonder Why by Curtis Stigers. The 1991 jazz soft-rocker rwached number five in the UK. He also supplied the theme song to Hells Angel drama Sons Of Anarchy, for all you fans of leather-clad factoids.


Bradley Walsh on the smallprint

The Blankety-Blank host and all-round ubiquitous TV geezer reads out the voting Ts&Cs. Presumably that glitter-throwing protestor from the Labour conference was washing his hair.

Judges’ comments for Ellie and Vito: Shirley says “musical and coordination good but focus more on your feet and a tiny mistake”. Anton says “expressive, neat and tidy but turned-in feet are a problem”. Craig says “feet parallel, you need to spot, clunky but rhythmical and gaw-jus bounce”. Motsi concludes “complex choreography but could see the struggle in your face”. Sevens? Ellie’s tearful about letting Vito down, bless her.

Judges’ scores: 7, 7, 7, 7 for a total of 28 points. Her lowest yet but should be safe.

Ellie and Vito’s samba.
Ellie and Vito’s samba. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Ellie and Vito’s samba

Coronation Street’s Ellie Leach has been perhaps the surprise package of the series and finished third on last week’s leaderboard for her Encanto-themed Viennese waltz. She’s increased her score by two points each week - 29, 31, then 33. Is she due a 35-pointer this week? It’s her first Latin since week one. Pink outfits to match the flamingos. She’s Lola the showgirl in a feathered frock, bringing the fire to the hottest spot north of Havana. High energy, hips a-popping, plentiful sass and fun disco feel but perhaps lacking a little bounce action. Got a bit tangled up and lost momentum at the end.

Song: Copacabana by Barry Manilow. The 1978 tropical disco classic was later expanded into a full-length musical. It’s been covered by Shirley Bassey, Liza Minelli and Kylie Minogue. Anyone would think it was camp.

Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola.
Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Our Strictly stars™

Our 13 couples are announced and give a wave. Lots of monochrome and red but a merciful lack of fancy dress after last week’s Movie Week frenzy.

Awesome foursome are here

The paddle-raising panel of Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Anton Du Beke and Shirley Ballas sashay onto the set. Cheesy grins all round, sparkly outfits and a synchronised sit-down.


Here come the hosts with the most, so time to review and rate their outfit choices, like some sort of E! channel red carpet correspondent. Tess Daly is knee-length black with asymmetric strap which looks a little sports bra-esque. Claudia Winkleman is is a voluminous black long-sleeve dress with red shoes. Claud wins.

Roll clap-along title sequence

Two of these couples have already waltzed off home. Who’ll be next, I beseech ye, ballroom gods?

Aaaaand we’re off!

Cue the traditional tension-building montage.

Grab a glass and something to graze on. We’re about to go over live to the Elstree Studios ballroom…

Tonight’s Strictly running time is two hours on the schnozz, a full quarter of an hour shorter than last week. Snappy.

Start stretching those hamstrings. Just five minutes until the glittery klaxon sounds…

Last knockings of Alan Carr’s Numberwang on BBC1 now.

It reminds me not just of Roy Walker’s Catchphrase (it’s good but it’s not right) but also of 80s children’s classic Chock-A-Block. Chocka-bloke, checking in.

Not long to wait now…

Last week’s show in summary

Just as a swift refresher: Movie Week saw Layton Williams make Strictly history by dancing in a dress and heels. Popular pro Amy Dowden made a surprise and most welcome return.

The first Couple’s Choice of the series got the first 10 for Eddie Kadi but Angela Scanlon’s scoreboard-topping Charleston was hailed as the best number of the series. Meanwhile, Nikita Kanda and Gorka Márquez found that some films don’t get a happy ending.

Now we’re fully up to speed. Ten minutes until the sparkly curtain comes up….

Tonight’s 13 dances include two salsas and two Viennese waltzes. Krishnan Guru-Murthy performs a paso doble, which sounds promising, but both mature women tackle a tricky routine: a rumba for Angela Rippon and a jive for Annabel Croft.

Fifteen minutes until sequin o’clock…

Eyes own for week four bingo

Tick them off when you see them on-screen! Take a drink for each! Get put to bed fully clothed and wake up full of shame!

Here’s your 10-point spotter’s guide for tonight:

  • Birthday cakes are wheeled out for Angela Rippon and Jody Cundy

  • Sheepish reference to over-excited Shirley whipping out her 10 paddle last week

  • Claudia tells a breathless couple “Good luck, the scores are in…”

  • Celebrity relative in the front row looks up at the monitor, then gives an embarrassed wave

  • Bobby Brazier or Ellie Leach are called “cute”/“ballroom babies”

  • Someone’s hands are dubbed “spatulistic”

  • Anton Du Beke makes a series of noises in place of a critique

  • Craig or Shirley get shirty with the studio audience

  • Judge says “It’s week four now, so we’re looking for technical details”

  • Pandemonium on the Clauditorium when the voting lines are opened

Keir Starmer on the Strictly liveblog?

An email missive his week from regular commenter Jennifer Henley, aka SweetiePudding.

She spotted this Guardian headline during the Labour Party conference: “A victory lap for Starmer, now officially a member of the glitterati” and said: “Does he mean us, the true glitterati? We Sparklies are honoured and thrilled.”

Welcome, future Prime Minister.

Third elimination looms

Could it be knockout time for Paralympic hero Jody Cundy? He’s the lowest scorer left in the contest, yet to score more than 21 points and bookies’ favourite for the exit.

However, Zara McDermott appeared in last week’s dance-off and is also hotly tipped, while Adam Thomas is the next lowest scorer overall.Barring a dance disaster elsewhere, is it those three fighting for survival? 25 minutes until we get our first choreographic clues…

A fab-u-lous week four beckons

We’ve survived Friday the 13th. Our reward? A sparkly Saturday the 14th. Good evening and welcome to the fourth weekend of Strictly Come Dancing 2023. I’m Michael, your virtual dance partner for tonight’s mercifully non-themed show. You are cordially invited to watch along with me as Strictly goes live again.

After last week’s second elimination - when Nikita Kanda followed Les Dennis onto the glittery bus home - tonight our 13 surviving pro-celebrity pairs take to the Elstree Studios dancefloor once again.

Some cracking music choices this week including Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie, Whitney Houston, Tom Jones, Barry Manilow, Conchita Wurst - and the first time that Red Hot Chili Peppers have ever been played on Strictly.

Tomorrow, unlucky 13 will become a dancefloor dozen. Tonight’s scores will be combined with viewer votes and the bottom two couples will hoof for survival on Sunday night. But who’ll become the third pair to bite the ballroom dust?

It’s showtime at 6.30pm on BBC One. I’ll be liveblogging from 6pm, providing build-up, rolling coverage, analysis, reaction and mild snark. So clear your diaries, plump your cushions and I’ll see you on the sofa.

As always, I’d love to hear from you as well. You can tweet me @michaelhogan, email me and the comments section below is open for sequin-spangled discussion. I’ll dip my twinkle toe in occasionally to test the temperature and report on your bons mots.

Time for one last fake tan top-up. It’s nearly time to staaaaaart dancing!


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