Strictly Come Dancing: 7 memorable moments from this series

By Steven McIntosh
Entertainment reporter

Bill Bailey and Oti Mabuse

image captionBailey would be the oldest ever winner, while Mabuse would be the first pro to win in two consecutive years

The Strictly Come Dancing final takes place later, after a short but largely successful series amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Maisie Smith, Bill Bailey, Jamie Laing and HRVY will compete to lift the glitterball trophy on Saturday evening.

Due to their ages, Bailey, Smith and HRVY would all become Strictly record breakers if they won.

At 55, Bailey would take the title of the oldest Strictly winner from Joe McFadden, who won in 2017 aged 42.

HRVY, 21, and Smith, 19, would both take over from Louis Smith as the youngest. The Olympic gymnast was 23 when he won in 2012.

A victory for Bailey would also mean a second consecutive win for Oti Mabuse, who triumphed with Kelvin Fletcher last year.

No professional dancer has won two years in a row, although Aliona Vilani won twice, four years apart, with Jay McGuinness and Harry Judd.

image captionSmith, pictured with her partner Gorka Marquez, would become the youngest winner at 19

Each couple will dance three routines, two of which they’ve performed earlier in the competition.

The dances and songs are:

  • Maisie and Gorka: Samba (performed to Conga! by Gloria Estefan), Showdance (We Need A Little Christmas by Idina Menzel), Quickstep (When You’re Smiling by Andy Williams)
  • HRVY and Janette: Jive (Faith by Stevie Wonder feat. Ariana Grande), Showdance (Boogie Wonderland by Earth, Wind & Fire), American Smooth (One Singular Sensation from A Chorus Line)
  • Bill and Oti: Quickstep (Talk To The Animals by Bobby Darin) Showdance (The Show Must Go On by Queen), Couple’s Choice (Rapper’s Delight by The Sugarhill Gang)
  • Jamie and Karen Charleston (Zero To Hero from Hercules), Showdance (I’m Still Standing by Elton John), Couple’s Choice (Gonna Make You Sweat by C+C Music Factory)

Bailey is the bookies’ favourite to be crowned the winner, with social media analysts noting he’s been talked about more than any other contestant, with 92% of tweets about him being favourable,

according to data from Betvictor.

The final will feature music from Robbie Williams and a group performance from the show’s professional dancers.

7 memorable moments from this series

image captionAnton had to be dragged kicking and screaming on to the judging panel

1. Anton Du Beke’s judging

“After much persuasion, Anton has reluctantly agreed to step in,” joked Claudia Winkleman when Motsi Mabuse had to take two weeks off from judging to self-isolate.

It’s no secret that Anton is keen to join the Strictly panel after clocking up more than 15 years as one of the show’s pro dancers, but so far he hasn’t made the leap.

That finally changed this year and many viewers were surprised that he was actually rather good, if a little generous with his scores.

2. Bailey’s Delight

Figure captionWarning: Third party content may contain adverts

Bill and Oti’s dance to Rapper’s Delight by The Sugarhill Gang was the biggest viral moment of this series by some distance – it was the only routine to cross the million mark on YouTube, with several million more watching it on Twitter.

It’s easy to see why – Bailey could easily have fallen into the trap of embarrassing dad dancing, but instead he fully committed to a routine which packed in lots of content and detail. He even found time to rap along with the lyrics at one point. His dancing wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t matter. This was a turning point for both him and the series.

“All three members of the actual Sugarhill Gang sent me a personal video message of congratulations, and thanks for using their song,” Bailey wrote in The Telegraph afterwards. “I am still a little dazed by it all to be honest, but in a good way. I’ve even become a Gif.”

3. Jamie and Karen achieving a dubious honour

The year is 2039. Coronavirus is long eradicated. Humans travel by hovercraft. All parcels are delivered by drones. And Jamie and Karen have survived another week in Strictly’s bottom two.

Last week’s semi-final saw Ranvir Singh eliminated despite never previously being in the dance-off, much to the bafflement of viewers who had also just put Jamie there for the fourth time.

This marked the first time in Strictly history a couple had survived the dance-off four times, overtaking even Mike Bushell last year, who was eliminated on his fourth bottom two appearance.

“I know a lot of people think dance-offs are really bad, but for us they’ve been one of the best things ever,” Karen said earlier this week, “because during a dance-off [Jamie] completely just goes for it, and I’ve never seen that ever before. Usually people get scared in a dance-off but for us, it was like, ‘Come on, let’s bring it, we deserve to be here.'”

4. That Simpsons routine

The Wanted’s Max George may not have lasted long in the competition, but this Simpsons routine from Movie Week will last long in the memories of Strictly viewers, for better or worse.

We loved it, lots of people hated it, but either way, full marks for creativity.

5. Only one Covid casualty

The blaze of publicity surrounding the first same-sex couple on Strictly was swiftly extinguished after Nicola Adams wound up in the bottom two early in the series, and then had to drop out entirely.

Her partner, Katya Jones, tested positive for Covid-19, which meant both she and Nicola had to go into self-isolation for two weeks, making their continued participation in the show unviable.

But fortunately that was the only coronavirus casualty of the series, with HRVY just managing to return in time for the show’s launch after testing positive during rehearsals.

The Strictly team overbooked this series to allow for a few celebrities to pull out due to Covid, but as only one has, we’re left with an unusual (although not unprecedented) four-way final.

6. Priscilla, Queen Of Complaints

Away from the competitive dancing, there were plenty of notable group and guest performances this year.

The group dances were all filmed in advance so the professionals could knock them all off in one go while isolating together in a hotel. Plus, we had guest performances on the results shows from The Vamps, Gary Barlow and the cast of & Juliet.

But the BBC received more than 150 complaints after pro dancers Gorka, Johannes and Giovanni appeared in drag during a Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert routine in Musicals week.

It’s actually not the first time the show has dabbled in drag. Although, to be fair, Craig Revel Horwood’s drag performance in last year’s series was so impressive and convincing we bet a lot of viewers didn’t even realise it was him.

7. CGI, street dancing, and Claudia’s Chatterpillar

Social distancing meant the contestants couldn’t all cuddle up with Claudia as usual, so the upstairs area’s informal name changed from the already brilliant Clauditorium to the possibly-even-better Chatterpillar.

Other changes this year included the dramatically increased use of CGI. From Bill kneeling in front of a huge digital elephant to Clara Amfo dancing on a gigantic virtual record player, it added a new dimension to the dancing, although not all viewers were keen on it.

And finally, this was the year that street dancing really reigned supreme. Having only been introduced in 2018, it’s basically become the default option for Couple’s Choice. That has sparked disapproval from traditional ballroom fans, but we’re totally here for it.

The finalists in quotes

Earlier this week, the four finalists spoke to BBC News and other outlets about their experiences on this year’s show.

One of the most noticeable things for HRVY is how much the experience has aged him. “It’s a really weird thing, I’m doing what my dad and granddad do now, which I really hate: every time I get up and down I make noises, it’s just because my body and my knees are in agony,” he says.

image captionHRVY says he hopes he has inspired other young people to take up dancing

Despite his aching muscles, the 21-year-old’s participation in the series has prompted interest in dancing from younger viewers. “I’ve had so many comments and DMs from younger people who have watched the show saying they want to dance. And not just cool street dancing, the Latin stuff, the salsa and the cha-cha, that whole generation of dance is coming back round again. So hopefully we can inspire younger people to dance because we have so much fun.”

While HRVY might have inspired other young people to take up dancing, another contestant has the other end of the spectrum taken care of.

“Blokes sometimes feel a bit self conscious, particularly blokes of my age, they feel like they’re going to be called the dad dancer,” Bill Bailey says. “And I think if me showing I can get out there and look a little bit more than somebody shuffling about, then why not?” On the subject of encouraging older people to try dancing, he adds: “If that is the consequence of me being on the show then that’s wonderful.”

His partner Oti Mabuse revealed: “I had a conversation with Rob Brydon, and he said he’s always watched Strictly, and he always sees the older gentleman being a comedic act. But for the first time, when he saw Bill, he thought, ‘Oh my goodness, when I watch Strictly, there’s a possibility I can go far.’ It’s just a different take, because he’s a respected man and is a respectable character in English society if he ever came on to Strictly he would be taken seriously.”

image captionSmith said being in the bottom two gave her and her partner Gorka Marquez extra motivation

Jamie Laing has made it to the finale in spite of struggling any time he hasn’t had Karen Hauer by his side. “If I’m by myself on the dancefloor, that is a no-no, I have to be connected with Karen most of the time, because if I’m by myself doing a solo dance, that is when things go wrong,” he laughs.

Laing has landed in the dance-off several times, as has fellow finalist Maisie Smith. But, she says, that has only served to motivate her. “Being in the bottom two, it kind of made me realise how much this meant to me, and it did give me a massive push to just keep working as hard as I can,” she says. “And I think that was the turning point for me that made me just think, ‘I’ve got to put my all into this,’ and I think it’s been paying off ever since.”

Related Topics

  • Reality TV

  • Dance
  • Strictly Come Dancing
  • Television

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