Strictly Come Dancing 2018: Part 2
Series 16 of Strictly Come Dancing has been in many ways the most predictable season to date. It became clear within a matter of weeks as to which couples were the front runners, who had potential to grow and who would only go so far. Apart from the slight anomaly of Vick Hope going out early in week 5 due to a poorly conceived dance (blame Graziano for that), the show has followed a fairly unsurprising route. Therefore, it really comes as no shock to find Joes and Diane, Stacey and Kevin, Ashley and Pasha as well as Faye and Giovanni are going through to next week’s final. Nor should we be astonished by the subtle distinction between the judge’s favourites, and the couples that the public related to and take to their hearts.
I must admit, I do feel a degree of sympathy for Ashley Roberts and her professional dance partner, Pasha Kovalev. She is a singularly talented and it is clear that she and Pasha spend numerous hours rehearsing and perfecting their routines. Sadly, it is obvious that the lady does not have a substantial fan base, unlike Stacey Dooley and Joe Sugg. It must be incredibly disheartening to find oneself continuously in the dance off despite being top of the leaderboard. I wonder if similar doubts will cross her mind about the final. Irrespective of how good their performances are next week, I do not believe that the public is sufficiently invested in them as a couple. Sadly, this is often the case with couples that are clearly “good”, right from the get-go. The public much prefer those celebrities that go on a traditional “strictly journey”.
Sadly, tonight saw the departure of Paralympian Lauren Steadman. Lauren has been a tenacious and diligent contestant throughout the weeks, along with her professional partner AJ Pritchard. I also feel that she has often been undermarked and given a harder time compared to fellow sportsman Graeme Swann. But such is the nature of Strictly Come Dancing. It is not a pure dance competition and the public vote changes the dynamics of the proceedings greatly. I think its fair to say that Lauren won a great deal of public support which compensated for the lack of marks from the celebrity judges. However, once she found herself in the dance-off tonight against Ashley, the outcome was inevitable. Nevertheless, I feel she can leave feeling proud of her achievements, once again clearly showing that “its about ability and not disability”.
As to the obvious question of who will win next week, I have mixed feelings on the matter. I think that on a purely technical level, it should be either Faye or Ashley. But personality and “the journey” are also key factors. Plus, the public are often governed by their feelings and can be very tribal. Joe Sugg has a strong internet-based fan base and I think it will certainly mobilise to support him. Yet if I were to go to the bookies and place a bet, I put my money on Stacey Dooley. She very much “one of the people” and possibly reflects a lot of the core Strictly fan demographics. Also, she is partnered with Kevin Clifton who is a firm favourite with viewers. He’s been in the final four times and so there’s the question of “always the bridesmaid, never the bride”. And we also are living in times when the general public are not so deferential towards experts or in this case judges. However, this time next week we’ll know for certain. Regardless of the outcome, it’s been a very entertaining season and once again the bar has been raised.