Strictly Come Blogging

Louise. Lou. Loulabelle. Loulabelle44. Louby.
Proudly blogging about Strictly Come Dancing ALL YEAR ROUND since 2006. Always spoiler-free.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

AJ Leaves Strictly

AJ Pritchard has today announced that he will be leaving Strictly Come Dancing.

AJ was on the BBC's list of confirmed pros released on 12th March, but he has now decided that he wishes to depart to pursue presenting opportunities.

He posted the announcement on his social channels:

Interesting that the statement references presenting with Curtis specifically. This makes me think that they have already been offered something together.

I wish AJ all the best. He's been very successful on Strictly, reaching a semi-final, two quarter-finals and placed 6th last year. He has quite a big following, who I'm sure will be very sorry to see him leave.

Friday, March 06, 2020

Kevin Clifton Announces Strictly Departure

Kevin Clifton took to Twitter this afternoon to announce his decision to leave Strictly Come Dancing.

Kevin, who has been with the programme since Series 11 in 2013, won the glitterball in 2018 with now girlfriend Stacey Dooley, having been runner-up on four previous occasions. Last year, he and Anneka Rice were the first ones to leave the competition.

He posted:

I can completely understand Kevin's decision. As he states in his tweetm, he's achieved pretty much everything that is possible on the show.

He can now devote more time to other projects. After touring with musical Rock of Ages last year, he recently completed a successful run as the lead in The Wedding Singer in London. I saw the show, and I thought it was the perfect part for him.

He's also touring with Burn The Floor this spring and has his own podcast - The Kevin Clifton Show. If you listen to the podcast, you'll know just how busy Kevin is, and freeing up four months of his year will inevitably alleviate some of the pressure. I fully expect to see him in 'Choreography Corner' on It Takes Two.

I wonder if he'll grow his hair long again now...

I think Kellie Bright was my favourite of his partners, and in my opinion, they should have won it. Here is their Star Wars themed Charleston:

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Congratulations, James & Ola!

Congratulations to former Strictly pros James & Ola Jordan, whose baby girl arrived last Thursday.

They each posted on Instagram to announce the news, Ola posting a picture the baby's hand and James posting an image of the baby's feet.

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Thursday, February 06, 2020

Jamie Hopes To Return

Jamie Laing hopes to return to Strictly this autumn, after an injury forced him to quit pre-series last year.

A source told The Sun: “Jamie has been in contact with the BBC and has confirmed he’s fighting fit and that he’s more than able to take part in the next series. Having a place on TV’s most prestigious dancing show, then having it taken away through something that was no fault of his own was a bitter pill to swallow. Knowing he can come back and give it another shot has made him really excited.”

While Jamie may have made it clear he is available, the producers are not obliged to invite him back, and have not yet confirmed that they intend to do so. Although it would be pretty mean-spirited not to allow him a second bite of the cherry. 

Whether he would be partnered with Oti will likely depend on the whole cast dynamic. While she might have been his best 'fit' in 2019, it might not be the case this year. As the current champion, it's likely Oti would be given someone with less perceivable ability than Kelvin.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Motsi Set To Return

Motsi Mabuse is set to return to her place on the Strictly judging panel, but is looking for more money.

According to The Sun, Motsi was paid less than the other judges in 2019, but is requesting that her pay matches the others this year.

A source told the paper: “Motsi had a fantastic time on Strictly last year, and there’s no question that she would like to come back. She also wants her pay to reflect the travelling she does. She has told pals that she is determined to get what she wants.”

I haven't encountered anyone who doesn't like Motsi. She made an impact, and the BBC should strive to keep her.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

DVD Review: Anton's Truly Madly Strictly

For the past several years, there has been a festive Strictly DVD release fronted by a famous Strictly face. This year, it is Anton's turn to host a compilation - Anton's Truly Madly Strictly.

As there have been several compilations already, the focus is very much on recent series, and many of the dances are from 2018.

Having hosted several TV shows of his own, he is a confident presenter. You might think that a DVD hosted by Anton would have a heavy ballroom focus, but that's not the case at all, although that is where we start.

Anton then presents some of his favourite show dances, featuring Faye & Giovanni, Joe & Dianne, Caroline & Pasha and Tom & Camilla among others.

There's a section on some surprises. This is a nice feature which includes Jake & Janette's showstopping salsa and a couple of turning points - namely Charles & Karen's street/commercial and Natasha & Brendan's samba, both of which were key routines for the respective couples.

There are a couple of other sections, but I don't want to give too much away.

Of course, no Anton DVD would be complete without a look back at some of Anton's most memorable partners, and he chooses his most memorable routine. I'm sure you can guess which one he picked!

The DVD also has extras, my favourite of which was a look at the Rivoli Ballroom which is the setting for the DVD. Anton shares some memories of competing at this iconic venue. I grew up less than two miles from the Rivoli, and it pains me that I have still never been inside. It's used for social dances, competitions and lots of filming. It's instantly recognisable, and despite often being under threat of closure, it still continues to survive.

If you have some Christmas money or vouchers to spend, you could do worse than to spend it on an afternoon with an icon on Strictly Come Dancing and enjoy some excellent routines from recent years.

Not convinced? Watch the trailer:

Disclosure: Thank you to the nice folks at BBC Studios for supplying a copy of the DVD for me to review.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Congratulations, Rachel & Pasha!

Congratulations to former Strictly pro Pasha Kovalev and former participant Rachel Riley, who welcomed a baby daughter into the world on Sunday.

Rachel posted the happy news today on Twitter:

Wednesday Wonderings: Week 13 - The Final

The final! Remember that? Seems like ages ago now. But I still wanted to share my thoughts about the show.

For the first time in years, I had picked a winner before Saturday's programme started. Usually, I need the showdances to help me make a decision, but not this year. I was firmly Team Kelvin. There was lots of talk about the possibility of Anton's first win as well, which was making me a bit nervous.

Round One: Judges' Choice

Karim & Amy were asked to do their quickstep again. In past years, the judges have picked a dance which needed improvement, but I think the quickstep was pretty good the first time around. This time around it was just as good. With hindsight, given their other performances on the night, it was nice to see them reprise a dance which was in hold. Once again, it was a clean performance. Karim was light on his feet, and it was a pleasure to watch.

The judges chose the Charleston for Emma & Anton. Again, they chose a strong dance. It had been tweaked, as the additional dancers were not included. This eliminated a bit lift in the middle. It did make the dance feel more like a partner dance, rather than being 'The Emma Show' this time. Anton still made a few small errors, which didn't help. Emma performed the dance well.

Kelvin & Oti were given the rumba, which could have been a total stitch-up, but he did a brilliant job once again. They had chemistry. The choreography was really nice - I really loved the underarm turn section. Great hip action, of course.

Round Two: Showdances

What you want to see from the showdances is something new - specifically lifts. But with so many styles now part of the competition, it's hard to do something good and new. Perhaps Michelle should have saved vogue for the showdance...

Karim & Amy's showdance was sadly nothing new. It was a contemporary routine which was similar in feel to their couple's choice contemporary. It showed what a great soloist Karim is. He is a fantastic dancer. But I wanted to see a different side of Karim. And I didn't get the giant showerhead with CGI confetti. I liked the paddling pool of confetti, though. It reminded me of the water dances that Tap Dogs used to perform. Confettiography is fine with me, but I didn't need the showerhead as well.

Emma & Anton promised a dance with a bit of Fred & Ginger glamour. I was poised for something similar to Ore or Faye's showdance. I didn't get that. I got a very disjointed routine which didn't know what it wanted to be. We watched Anton ascend the stairs. They did a little twirl and then they descended together. That's a lot of music gone and not much content. Then a bit in hold which didn't go anywhere. Then canes and hopping. Then running back up the stairs. There was a lot of nothing.

Kelvin & Oti's number was a 'greatest hits' routine. It was a little disappointing, as I wanted to see crazy Oti death-defying lifts and innovative choreography. But next to Emma & Anton, it looked stunning. It was great to see Kelvin's 'flying ant' again. And I loved the slow jive section in the middle. Slow jive is so sexy. But it wasn't as good as her routine with Danny Mac.

Round Three: Favourite Dance

It was no surprise that Karim & Amy chose their jive as their favourite dance. It was definitely his strongest dance of the series, and a great one to end his series on. Best jive ever, Bruno? Not sure about that.

Emma & Anton were only ever going to choose a ballroom dance, and they opted for the pivotfest of a Viennese waltz. It was nice enough, but lacked a bit of chemistry. I'm not sure what I would have chosen instead, though. I've found a lot of their dances forgettable. American smooth would have needed modification. The judges didn't like their tango. Their options were limited.

Kelvin & Oti's choice of samba was obvious. We hadn't seen it since Week 1, and it was the dance that catapulted Not Jamie Laing to stardom. It was great to see it again. Great hip action, great energy. A great end to the series.

The Result

It was the right result for me. Karim is a fantastic dancer as a soloist, but he never seemed completely comfortable in hold. He wasn't a credible leader. Emma often made mistakes and never really nailed anything. She was good, but there are other people I would have preferred to have seen in the final. For me, Kelvin had everything. Confident performer, great mover, decent lead. After Alex went out, Kelvin was the one I liked the most.

And that's our lot for another year. No more dances. No more frocks. No more 9s from Craig.

I just want to take a moment to acknowledge that Michelle's part of the group number was to Glamazon. Fierce until the end.

To those of you who still read my blog, I really appreciate you. I love writing my thoughts every week, and the fact that people still come and have look each week is humbling. Sometimes I don't have as much time to devote to it as I would like, but I'll still be here with weekly reviews.

So, who's going to be rumoured for 2020? Will there be a drag queen? Or a Queen of The Jungle? Will we have heard of any of the participants? I can't wait to find out.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Congratulations, Natalie!

Congratulations to Natalie Lowe, who gave birth to a baby boy last Saturday. Natalie was on It Takes Two's Choreography Corner slot earlier in the week. The baby arrived a little early.

She announced the news on Twitter:

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Sunday Service: Week 12

Do we have the four best dancers in the semi-final? No. Was the semi-final exciting? Not really. But I think we have a clear winner based on last night's dances. In my opinion, anyway.

I'm not really sure what to make of Emma & Anton's cha cha. It was quite messy. It wasn't together. Her leg action wasn't great. The choreography was odd. It didn't move me at all. Which kind of sums up their partnership. I buy Emma as a performer, and she was certainly giving the performance in the cha cha, but I don't see any chemistry with Anton whatsoever. I'm baffled that they got this far. I suspect they spent more of their training time on the waltz.

The waltz was better, but again it wasn't quite there. Her footwork lacked heel leads in a few places. Her posture flagged in a few places so her bottom started to stick out. The standing spin looked as though he was dragging her around him and she was struggling to keep up. And of course, there were two big pivot sections, because that seems to be all Anton does these days. It was a nice dance, but it should have been so much sharper for a semi-final.

Kelvin & Oti's quickstep was an absolute joy. It was light and bright. They covered the floor, and never lost body contact. His timing was excellent. Everything was clean. The perfect quickstep. I loved it.

What I love about Kelvin, is how safe you feel watching him. He leads Oti in a way that the other remaining men do not. You always feel that he is in control of the routine. The paso was exactly like that. He lead Oti throughout. He was in control. His shaping and posture were great. He understands the music. Shame about the loss of balance at the end, but he was smart enough to lower his heels. A great job.

Chris & Karen's Viennese waltz didn't have a lot of waltz in it. Chris' steps are still too small, and you totally get the sense that Karen is leading the whole thing from the back. He looked like he was chasing her around on the standing spin (yes, we see that there's no flekerl!). His arms were bent into his waist and not extended from the shoulder. Chris has been fun to watch on other occasions, but this dance really exposed his weaknesses.

What Chris lacked in rumba technique, he made up for with storytelling. I loved the chemistry and the sadness of their routine. It was really believable. The dancing wasn't there, sadly. It lacked hip action. Again, he wasn't leading the dance. But it was still more enjoyable to watch than Emma's cha cha.

I loved the chemistry between Karim & Amy. Their Argentine tango was intense. It was the first time that their slight height difference stood out, though, which made it look as though Karim was slightly uncomfortable with her weight on him. Amy is tiny, but so is he. It just wasn't quite secure enough for me. It was a lovely routine, though, and made me crave more Argentine tangos. It's a shame this will be the last one.

Their American smooth reminded me so much of Stacey & Kevin's foxtrot, and it wasn't even to the same music. Weird. I thought it was sweet, it was clean. But I prefer a more Hollywood American smooth with a bit more pizzazz. This didn't really excite me in the same way as the Argentine tango did. And, as the judges noted, that last lift was a bit unsettling.

The best for me this week was easily Kelvin. His quickstep especially was outstanding.

Logic would say that Chris and Emma were the weakest and should be in the dance-off, but when did logic ever come in to it?

Worst case scenario would be a Kelvin vs Karim dance-off, but I can't see Kelvin not going though on the public vote. The public aren't that daft, are they?

There is only one winner for me now. This competition is Kelvin's to lose.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Sunday Service: Week 11

Last night's show was a blogger's dream. Only five couples, only one dance each. This is the shortest show review it is possible to have.

The show kicked off with Chris & Karen's foxtrot. This was a tale of two dances. Out of hold, it was dynamic and fun. Chris really got into the character of the dance. In hold, their foxtrot was all a bit flat. His footwork was OK, but it was all a bit careful and contained. His steps were too short, he needs more drive. You could literally see him getting excited as the ballroom phrases were coming to an end and the next showpiece section was about to begin. An unbalanced performance.

I think that Alex & Neil were the only couple killed by the theme this week. We had Chris' 'funk salsa' in Blackpool, and now we were subjected to Alex's 'hip hop samba'. The thing is, I really enjoyed it. It wasn't traditional, but it suited Alex. She looked like she was having a ball. It was difficult to see her samba hips, because the denim dungarees did not move with her body. There were some samba steps, but there was a lot of other stuff too. But percentage wise, it was probably on par with Chris & Karen. As a samba, it was questionable. As a dance, it was very entertaining.

I really liked Kelvin & Oti's American smooth. The Viennese waltz sections were fast and nicely flat. They traveled well. The lifts were good, especially the one-handed lift. And I loved the characterisation. Kelvin took to the arrogant Gaston character really well. It was nice to see some acting from Kelvin, as he can be a bit one-note at times. It was an entertaining routine. I loved the chandelier swing! And it was nice to see the return of the bench. Many a couple have danced on that over the years.

Karim & Amy's jive was excellent. High energy, maintained throughout the number. Lovely retraction on the kicks. Synchronised side-by-side sections. Totally deserving of a perfect score. The only thing which spoilt it for me was Karim's jacket, which hid his body and destroyed some beautiful lines. I'm not sure it will be one people talk about in years to come, like Jill or Jay, but it was an excellent performance nonetheless.

The Charleston totally suited Emma. She was absolutely loving the routine. It did feel as though it was a bit disjointed from Anton, though. They didn't dance together much, and when they did, they weren't quite in sync (which was mostly because Anton was slightly behind, not Emma). If you look at it as a show dance for Emma, it worked. If you look at it as a partner dance, it was a bit weak. You can't take anything away from Emma, though. She performed for her life.

Chris was definitely the bottom of the pile for me this week, which is harsh because he was still good. But good isn't enough. You need to be showstopping. Personally, I would put Emma in the bottom two because I've seen enough of her disjointed routines with Anton and I still want to see more of Alex. But in reality, there's a strong possibility of Alex being in the dance-off.

The best for me this week was easily Karim, but I loved Kelvin too. I would expect both of them to be safe, and the only danger for either of them is being in the dance-off together. Either of them would slay any of the other three couples.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Sunday Service: Week 10

Week 10? Where is the time going?

After the big production of Blackpool, it feels quite cozy to be back in the studio.

The show started with a performance from Bruno Tonioli, which I can only assume is filler because we are one couple short. Rumour has it it's Criag's turn next week.

The first couple on the floor were Saffron & AJ with a samba. Samba is the AJ killer, eliminating him from the last two semi-finals. Choreographically, I liked their samba. It was very traditional, the kind of routine we would have seen in the early days of Strictly. Unfortunately, it wasn't that well executed by Saffron. Her timing was out in a few places, as if she didn't really understand the rhythm. It was fine, but this late in the competition, with so few couples left, it send you home.

I desperately wanted to see a different side to Karim in his contemporary routine. I wanted some light and shade, some emotion, something more adult. I felt that the routine was on the way to that, but didn't nail it. It was a showcase of his technical ability, no question. But parts of it were so frantic is was overwhelming. Perhaps Craig was right about the lack of emotion. Did Karim really connect with Amy? It just so happens that I watched last year's final yesterday, and seeing Ashley & Pahsa's contemporary showdance just highlighted how good the style can be. I think that may have clouded my judgement of Karim's routine.

Alex & Neil had the first Argentine tango of the series, and I wanted it to be brilliant, but it was totally spoilt by her upturned toes. If she had pointed her toes, the performance would have been a whole lot more beautiful. The first lift was really laboured and the ending was awkward. I did feel that there was chemistry, which was good. The performance just needed to be slicker.

Kelvin & Oti's Northern Soul themed street commercial routine was very sweet. I'm definitely going to dance around the kitchen next time I'm waiting for the kettle to boil! Kelvin looked relaxed and was in the groove of the routine. It wasn't flashy, it was just fun and easy-going. A nice step-change from the intensity of contemporary and Argentine tango. I'm just sad it didn't have any of those famous Northern Soul spins and drops. That really would have been the icing on the cake.

Emma & Anton's quickstep was very much like their American smooth, but without the added interest of the additional dancers. It seemed to have some issues too. I wasn't sure if the hesitations were choreographed, or came after errors where they had to wait to catch back up. There was gapping again, an issue which seems to have plagued all of their dances and something which is rare for Anton. I'm afraid, that I didn't like it.

After a night of somewhat underwhelming routines, I found myself really enjoying Chris & Karen's paso because it had some passion and spark. Chris actually looked as though he was leading Karen. Admittedly, some of the shaping wasn't quite right, and it was stompy in places, but after a night of mediocrity, Chris shone. He's probably done enough to avoid the dance-off.

My favourites last night were Chris and Kelvin. I voted for Alex as well, because I really like her and her routine, even if it didn't quite hit the mark.

Emma was easily the least entertaining, and Saffron was probably the weakest technically. So they would be my bottom two, although I am not sure who I would send home between them, But with so few couples left, anyone could be in the dance-off.

Book Review: Strictly Come Dancing Annual 2020

It's Strictly Come Dancing Annual time again!

Of course, the main objective of the annual is to provide profiles of the celebrities and dancers participating in the show each year. This year there are also interviews with Strictly newbies Motsi, Rylan and Nancy. But the most interesting part for me is the behind-the-scenes articles.

This year, there is an interview with warm-up man Stuart Holdham. You will have seen Stuart if you have been to see the show, or went to the first couple of arena tours. He explains how he has to be entertaining, as well as giving out health & safety information. And he talks about his now legendary array of sparkly and shiny suits, which are the envy of Craig Revel Horwood himself.

There is an interview with new executive producer Sarah James, who has been with the show for five years. The interview gives the sense that while the show has to continue evolving, she is not out to reinvent it.

There is an article introducing the whole Strictly band and singers. Most people know Dave Arch, the singers and Trevor 'The Hat' (who runs the band's Twitter account), but now you get to meet everyone else. Dave also explains that some spots change if they need particular instruments for certain songs.

There's an article on this year's The Professionals tour, which returns again in 2020, a look at lighting and more information about the couple's choice dances. And there are a few quizzes to get you thinking on Christmas Day while you're waiting for the Christmas Special to start!

As always, you could do a lot worse than buying this book as a Christmas present for the Strictly fan in your life.

The Strictly Come Dancing Annual 2020 is available now.

Disclosure: Thank you to the nice folks at Penguin Random House for supplying a copy of the annual for me to review.

Book Review: Moonlight Over Mayfair

Moonlight Over Mayfair is Anton du Beke's follow-up novel to 2018's One Enchanted Evening.

The book picks up pretty much where the previous one left off. It's the late 1930s, and a new war is looking imminent. The threat of war is making things tough for the Buckingham Hotel, which is increasingly struggling to make ends meet, and is looking for investment to keep it going.

Like the first book, all of the principle characters have secrets to keep from each other. As the reader, we are privy to most of the secrets, and watch the characters agonise over what to tell and what to keep secret.

The bulk of the story surrounds principle dancer Raymond de Guise. Successful recent meetings in California have opened up the possibility of a career in Hollywood. Raymond dreams of starting a new life in the US with chambermaid girlfriend Nancy Nettleton, but what does she want?

The disappointing thing about this book is that there are few surprises for the reader. You can pretty much see where things are going all the way through the book. A more experienced novelist would add a few more twists and turns, but Anton pretty much leads you through the plotlines so you cannot fail to see what's coming next. It's a reasonable enough story, the characters are engaging enough, and I did care enough about them to read on. I just felt that as though I wanted to be moved a bit more emotionally.

Moonlight Over Mayfair is available now.

Disclosure: Thank you to the nice folks at Bonnier Zaffre publishing who kindly sent me a copy of the book to review.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Sunday Service: Week 9

Blackpool! Blackpool! BLACKPOOL!

It's rammed down our throats so hard that I'm always fearful of an anti-climax. Will it meet expectations? This year, though, it actually looked as though Blackpool was going to be a show to remember.

Chris & Karen kicked things off with their salsa. I love Chris' energy and enthusiasm. I enjoy watching his routines. But this routine lacked content. It was clearly put together to be a spectacle rather than worry about the dance they were performing. We were almost at the chorus before they really did any salsa steps at all. There was about as much content as Abbey & Aljaž's infamous 'disco salsa'. Chris' dance was more 'funk salsa'. Chris seemed to spend a lot of the dance holding the female dancers up, and little time moving his feet. It was fun and entertaining, but there wasn't enough dance content for me. Chris is so endearing, he kind of gets away with it.

Like Michelle last week, Emma had the advantage that she had already done a foxtrot, which makes the American smooth a bit easier. The routine was OK, and Emma seemed to light up when she got to dance with the additional dancers. As you would if you'd been with Anton since August! It was clean and well danced, but I wasn't wowed. It had a about 10 minutes of pivots at the end, which Anton always seems to put in. I felt like it was overmarked. I don't think it was a 10 routine. 

I loved Alex & Neil's paso. Choreographically, it was excellent. It had some actual paso content, but it had lovely nods to Beyoncé as well. Alex was able to shine with her squad of additional dancers, whom she was in sync with. Neil was there just to present her and show her off. It was amazing. My only criticism was that Alex failed to close her feet together on some of the poses, which made it look a bit ungainly. But it was everything a Blackpool dance should be - spectacular and entertaining.

I was concerned that Kelvin might be a bit heavy footed for the jive, but he did a really good job. I loved the press-up-ography! There was lots of jive content, and he kept the energy level up from start to finish. He mirrored Oti well. He was a little pigeon toed, sadly, and his knees were a bit too bent on the pivots. But a brilliant routine.

I think the quickstep was probably Saffron & AJ's best dance of the series. Loads of quickstep content, with a sensible amount of the routine in hold. It was cheeky and fun. I wanted to go to their Marvelous Party! Saffron really performed from head to toe in this one. I think she is finally hitting her stride, and it couldn't come at a better time in the competition.

Oh, Michelle. I love Michelle. I love that she is shining a light on the LGBTQ+ community on prime time BBC One. I love how down-to-earth and real she is. I had such high hopes for her street/commerical routine to Vogue (although I am slightly baffled as to why they didn't call it theatre/jazz, since it was so theatrical). I wanted to love it. I really did. But it was little more than walking and a few vogue arms. I wanted more. I wanted something to rival Johannes in the Fame routine. Why did she spend so long sitting on a piano? I actually enjoyed watching Giovanni more than Michelle. It was fine. It just didn't blow me away.

Karim & Amy's Charleston was fast, energetic and fun. I could have lived without the entrance from the ceiling, as it just seemed to take up music and didn't really serve any purpose (other than the producers' desire to have someone 'fly' because it's Blackpool). Karim suits the zoot-suited character dance, and he gave it everything. 

I feel I have to comment on the additional dancers this year. For once, I felt as though they complimented the couples, rather than drawing focus. Both Emma and Alex's routines really benefited from having them there, and I think they were a good addition to all of the routines.

My favourites this week were Alex, Saffron and Kelvin. 

Michelle was good, but I was expecting so much that I ended up not enjoying her routine. I wasn't that taken with Emma this week, and Chris' routine lacked content. I think Michelle's army of fans might save her this week, having seen her in last week's dance off. If it comes down to Emma and Chris, I would expect Chris to be packing his bags. But it's all so close, who knows?