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The semi-final of Strictly Come Dancing unfolded in real time.

The Saturday liveblog has come to an end, but you’re welcome to keep the lively discussions going in the comments. Join us again tomorrow for the final results show of the year. Can you believe how quickly time has passed, my amazing friends? Tune in at 7:20pm Sunday on BBC1 to catch the special musical guests, Take That. Get ready to scream!

I will restart the blog at 6:50pm to prepare, so please come back then. In the meantime, you can find me on Twitter at @michaelhogan. Feel free to say hello.

Thank you for joining me. I hope to see you tomorrow, but until then, as a reminder: keep dancing! Stay well.

Viewers of television now have the option to switch channels and watch Cher Meets Rylan on BBC2, The Great White Christmas of ’81 on Channel 5, Hidden Assets on BBC4, or Bad Host: Hunting the Couchsurfing Predator on Sky Documentaries.

As for movies, the options for tonight are Traffic at 9:40 PM on Dave, The Warriors at 9:55 PM on MTV, or Bridget Jones’ Diary at 10:25 PM on Channel 5.

Here’s a special radio recommendation for your Sunday morning! Tomorrow at 11:15am on Radio 4, Lauren Laverne’s guest on Desert Island Discs will be none other than Shirley Ballas, the head judge of Strictly. Don’t miss out on their conversation about dancing, holiday thoughts, and showtunes.

How did we feel about the semi-final as a whole? There was a lot of impressive dancing, particularly from Layton Williams. There were also strong emotions present.

Bobby Brazier appeared to be reaching his peak at the perfect moment, while Annabel Croft’s chances seemed to be dwindling. However, as always, the public vote has the power to alter the outcome. Tomorrow’s results show is sure to be captivating.

Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin’s rumba.

Lastly, a few of your remarks regarding Ellie Leach.

IvanTiger commented: “The performance was well done, but it felt more like an exercise class than a dance. It’s a shame that Ellie’s talents were not fully showcased.”

Lidoswimmer commented: “Oddly, that was the least enjoyable of Ellie’s performances for me, it felt more like a high school production. However, I am still voting for her to win.”

VelvetinaB says: “Very dramatic and pretty polished by Ellie (great synchronicity), but I never like these Couple’s Choices as much as the other dances. She’s still my favourite and I love how her confidence has grown.”

Strictlylounging says: “I’m not trying to be mean, but I was hoping for more from that CC. It seemed like there was a lot of posing in different positions. The lift was impressive though!”

Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola’s cha cha cha.

Regarding Annabel Croft, Rufusonly commented, “Annabel took a backseat to Johannes during the samba and it seemed a bit lackluster, but that’s just the nature of Strictly. She is truly stunning in every way. However, I must mention that Anton sometimes comes across as a confusing clown.”

Owbeck says: “Felt Annabel didn’t quite let go in that samba. She seemed very nervous too. She’s gonna need some votes and then some more. Think she might just pip Bobby due to being ‘what this show is about’.”

defontherocks says: “Splits! Come on, judges. You loved them when Angela Rippon did them.”

SparklingDormouse compliments Annabel’s graceful performance, commenting on its enjoyable, calm, and classy nature. However, they express dislike for the asymmetrical dress and distracting sleeve, and are surprised that Tess has not borrowed it.

Annabel Croft and Johannes Radebe’s salsa.

Readers shared their opinions on Layton Williams.

Rufusonly commented that Layton’s opening dance was a clear rumba, not a showdance. Although he may have lacked hip action, the overall balance of the dance was exceptional. Rufusonly expressed that Layton appeared like a real couple on the dance floor and was fully immersed in the performance. Rufusonly also mentioned that they are starting to appreciate Layton more and are excited to see his future routines. Rufusonly believes that Layton’s Charleston was the best dance they have ever seen on Strictly, and it is unlikely that any new competitor could achieve such a high standard. Rufusonly recognizes Layton as a special and one of the top dancers in the country, although they do not think he will win, they believe he will make the final one to remember.

Lidoswimmer suggests that the rumba should no longer be included in Strictly, as it is often lackluster. They believe that Layton will be more suited to performing the Charleston.

fihema adds: “Well that was a whole lot of fun. For once a different register for Layton and it really showed he CAN dance. Not just do show dances. Brilliant fun. Made me smile.”

Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin’s Charleston.

Here is a collection of your feedback. Regarding Bobby Brazier, YodaknowsAll states: “Bobby, your quickstep was absolutely brilliant. It was graceful, lively, and beautiful.”

Fleur01 compliments Dianne’s dress and gives it a perfect score.

According to Wordiplyer, Dianne is extremely skilled at performing the quickstep. A few years ago in Blackpool, she and Joe delivered a spectacular routine to the song “Dancing Fool.” This performance earned Joe one of his highest scores.

Bobby Brazier and Dianne Buswell.

EastofStratford says: “Evening all. Enjoying tonight’s show. I particularly liked the way Bobbie used the “smell under the nose” acting technique of Joey from Friends, very effective.”

Rufusonly commented: “Bobby has earned his spot in the final with his impressive dance. The difference from his previous performance was significant. If it’s about the progress, then Bobby has completed his training and deserves to be in the final.”


According to Owbeck, Bobby is not holding back and it appears that Owbeck may have been too quick to predict Bobby’s downfall.

Pancake01 adds: “Ooh I liked that from Bobby. I thought he could have been sharper in places, but I loved his outfit, his confidence and good capeology. Well done!”

Bobby Brazier and Dianne Buswell’s paso doble.

Annabel Croft appears to have reached her breaking point and will likely be facing the dreaded red light of failure tomorrow. Who will be her opponent? It could be one of the male contestants, such as Bobby Brazier or (unfairly) Layton Williams.

This week marks the second-to-last round of opening envelopes in this series. Here are the recipients of this week’s awards…

The top dance was Layton’s Charleston, with a considerable lead. The second place goes to Bobby’s quickstep.

The worst dance was Annabel’s salsa, unfortunately.

The ideal selection of music was Mack The Knife, which was a perfect fit for Bobby’s quickstep routine. It goes to show that sometimes old songs are the best.

The music choice for Bobby’s paso, Run Boy Run by Woodkid, was not well-received due to its overuse. Layton’s rumba to Rihanna was also lacking in energy.

Top choice of attire: Dianne’s emerald velvet quickstep dress.

The most unflattering attire: Annabel’s bright yellow salsa dress was a fashion disaster. I also didn’t approve of Layton’s flowy school uniform for his rumba.

The judges’ best comment was about Shirley taking away Anton’s King Of Ballroom title. Anton’s mistake of calling Ellie a “fluffer” was awkward.

The repetitive nature of messages from loved ones became tiring and seemed more appropriate for the end.

Claudia’s best line: Her introduction to Vernon’s transition to Tess and the typical Vito ramble-promoting.

Tess and Claud embrace in their customary manner and urge us to “Keep dancing!” Please continue to join us for analysis, response, and a summary of your comments.

The results of the public vote have been revealed and the usual chaotic prop-filled celebration ensues in the ballroom. A video recap of the eight routines performed tonight is currently playing on-screen.

The scores from last week have been combined with this week’s two dances. Here is the current standing:

Layton and Nikita received a total of 116 points, with 40 points from Layton and 36 points from Nikita.

Ellie and Vito earned a total of 111 points by scoring 36, 37, and 38 points.

Bobby and Dianne scored a total of 107 points with individual scores of 34, 38, and 35.

Annabel and Johannes have a combined total of 98 points, calculated by adding 33, 32, and 33.

The Strictly semi-finalists.

The judges gave scores of 9, 9, 10, and 10, resulting in a total of 38 points. This puts them in second place on the combined leaderboard, behind Layton.

The judges had positive feedback for Ellie and Vito. Motsi praised Ellie’s transition from girl to woman and her ownership of herself, despite a slight stumble in the routine. Shirley commended Vito for his ability to keep up with Ellie and declared her a worthy finalist. Anton was impressed with their performance, noting their versatility, clean timing, and strong commitment. Craig pointed out some minor timing issues, but overall saw a new side to Ellie that was fierce and grounded, with fantastic shapes. The judges hinted at a score of nines, possibly even a few tens.

This is the final couple to perform a Couple’s Choice routine in this series. Ellie, a big fan of Dua Lipa, is excited to dance to a medley of contemporary hits. She looks like a pop star in her red, sparkly catsuit and uses canes and a chair as props. The routine is fast, sleek, sassy, and fun, with many elements incorporated. It has a commercial feel and is a full-out performance, including floor work and changes of pace. The spinning lift is spectacular, more reminiscent of Dancing On Ice than Strictly. It’s truly impressive.

Song: Dua Lipa Medley. This mash-up of hits by the English-Albanian disco-pop diva includes Blow Your Mind (Mwah), Physical and Levitating. Fun Dua Lipa facts: despite being a Londoner, she’s a Liverpool FC fan and has embraced the nickname “Dula Peep” after a US talkshow host mispronounced her name five years ago.

Johannes expresses his emotions affectionately and refers to Annabel as “a stunning swan”, recognizing her strength and declares, “you have captured my heart”. No, you’re getting emotional. Tess is also feeling emotional. Jojo is our beloved leader.

The judges gave scores of 8 (unfortunately!), 8, 8, and 9, resulting in a total of 33 points. This puts her at the bottom of the leaderboard. I am worried that she has reached her potential.

Judges’ feedback for Annabel and Jojo: Craig praises the performance as “exquisitely beautiful” and commends their determination. Motsi admires their gentleness and vulnerability, seeing it as a display of inner strength, and encourages them to be proud. Shirley compliments their focus and compares them to a true competitor, admiring their natural turns and fleckerls. Anton expresses his desire to dance with them, praising their graceful line and pivots, creating a dreamy atmosphere. Overall, did they receive all 9s?

Annabel has returned to Jojo’s embrace, finding comfort and security. After a recent struggle with maintaining her strong form, she must focus on regaining her posture and frame. She should drive forward with her heel, while avoiding tension in her shoulders. She is wearing a beautiful pale pink dress, exuding a lovely mood. Her movements are gentle and smooth, gliding across the floor as one. She executes fast spins and pivots with grace and poise. The performance ends with a shower of confetti. Despite the loveliness of her routine, it seems that Annabel may be the weakest dancer tonight, as her two dance styles lack the “wow” factor.

Song: Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want by Slow Moving Millie. The Smiths’ 1984 song appeared on the Pretty In Pink soundtrack and has also been covered by Dream Academy. This version soundtracked the John Lewis ad for Christmas 2011 – the one called “The Long Wait” where the little boy impatiently counts down the days to Christmas but not to open his own gifts – so he can give his parents a present. Aww/bleurgh (delete according to schmaltz tolerance levels).

Source: theguardian.com