Strictly Come Dancing talking points, week two: Sara Davies and Tilly Ramsay bounce back in emotional episode

From teary tributes to traditional Tangos, here are the 10 biggest talking points from week two

Michael Hogan
Saturday 02 October 2021 22:07
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Strictly's Greg Wise competes on the show in honour of his late sister

Things just got real. Yes, it was down to serious ballroom business as Strictly Come Dancing 2021 reached its first elimination weekend.

Our 15 pro-celebrity pairs had a fortnight to train for their first full routines last Saturday. This time it was half the training time but double the stakes, as viewers got their chance to vote and the dreaded dance-off loomed for the bottom two couples.

Who rose to the high-pressure hoofing occasion? Who’s in line for the sequin-handled wooden spoon? And why was Dan Walker dressed as Maximus Decimus Meridius from Gladiator when it wasn’t Movie Week yet? Here are the top 10 talking points from the second live show…

Sara Davies and Tilly Ramsay were comeback queens

Dragon’s Den star Sara Davies was rock bottom of the standings last week with just 17 points. Talk about a turnaround. She went from bottom to joint top, doubled her score and looked like an entirely new woman. That’s the beauty of ballroom. Not to mention hard work and a great teacher.

Dancing the slow foxtrot, her pro partner Aljaž Škorjanec’s favourite dance, Durham’s crafting doyenne was graceful, poised and all-round gorgeous. Motsi Mabuse said she was the most improved dancer of the week. Both Aljaž and Sara were tearful about her transformation. She went from ailing concern to booming business inside one week and it was heartwarming to see.

Equally miraculous was this year’s youngest celebrity, teen chef Tilly Ramsay (daughter of Gordon), who tied with Davies for top score. Dancing the first Charleston of the series with pro partner Nikita Kuzmin, she unleashed her TikTokker energy and upbeat personality for a kooky routine full of kicks, character and tricky choreography.

There were picnic props and badminton racquets. There was the requisite swivel and spot-on synchronisation. In the studio audience, Tilly’s fearsome father found something in his eye. Totes emosh, yes chef? Been chopping onions, big boy?

AJ Odudu still looks a likely finalist

AJ Odudu competes on ‘Strictly’

TV presenter AJ Odudu topped the leaderboard last Saturday with 34 points – the highest week one score for a whopping 16 years. Could the early frontrunner keep up the dazzling standard?

It was a grinding change of pace from the speedy Jive to a slow Foxtrot with pro partner Kai Widdrington but AJ handled it with assurance and aplomb. Sporting a chic bob, she was elegant, poised and, according to Anton Du Beke, downright “dreamy”. Motsi Mabuse gave it a nine. Even Craig Revel Horwood called it “a-may-zing”.

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When the scores were combined, AJ remained at the summit of the standings. She’s living her best life. She even booped Kai’s snoot to celebrate. Shirley Ballas hailed AJ as a “a star in the making”. Is she a glitterball winner in waiting too?

Not a dry eye at Greg Wise’s disco dedication

Greg Wise disco dancing on ‘Strictly’

The anything-goes Couple’s Choice category tends to be sneered at by Strictly purists. A lack of rules means it’s hard to judge. It tends to get scored over-generously. It’s often a get-out-of-jail-free card for middling couples. Those grumbles might get louder with this year’s first Couple’s Choice coming as early as week two, courtesy of silver fox actor Greg Wise and firecracker pro Karen Hauer.

However, let’s not poop the party. Wise’s disco routine had emotional storytelling before bursting into life with Saturday Night Fever moves and spectacular lifts. This year’s oldest contestant at 55, Wise can just about remember the disco era and threw himself into it whole-heartedly.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the ballroom when Wise dedicated the routine to his late sister Clare, a Strictly superfan who was buried in a glitterball coffin five years ago after dying from bone cancer, aged 51. Greg was “disco diva” Clare’s carer for the last year of her life and did her proud again here.

Shirley Ballas, who’s had two cancer scares herself, was as tearful as Greg was. Even a three from mean old Craig Revel Horwood couldn’t take the gloss off the moment. Bravo, Greg.

Struggling trio in dance-off danger

Ugo Money performs on ‘Strictly’

Coming into this show, Ugo Monye, Tilly Ramsay and Sara Davies were the bookies’ favourites for elimination. When the two women saved themselves with vast improvements, it threw the race wide open.

Rugby player-turned-pundit Monye raised his game for a fleet-footed quickstep but was still left joint second bottom of the standings for the second week in a row. He might be relying on the popularity of his partner, reigning pro champ Oti Mabuse, to pull in public votes.

Strictly producers have reportedly been frustrated by Mancunian actress Katie McGlynn’s hectic Hollyoaks filming schedule limiting her training time with Spanish pro Gorka Márquez. Her high school-themed jive wasn’t much better than last week’s mediocre Tango. Katie’s energy flagged towards the end and she could be in trouble.

A much bigger shame would be if comedy actor Nina Wadia was at risk. She started with a bang last week, taking everyone by surprise with a fierce, swaggering Samba. “Who knew that was in you?” said awe-struck judge Craig Revel Horwood.

Wadia said she only signed up for Strictly so she could do the Tango. Sadly, her effort to a rocky Eurythmics number was round-shouldered, wrongly shaped and littered with mistakes. She deserves another week at least, though, so let’s hope justice is done.

John and Johannes blazed a ballroom trail

This week the pair let loose for a celebratory Cha Cha Cha

Strictly’s first ever male couple, baker John Whaite and his pro partner Johannes Radebe, finished joint second last week with their groundbreaking Tango. This week they let loose for a celebratory Cha Cha Cha that had stylish Cuban spirit and copious razzle-dazzle.

In both of his previous two series, South African pro Johannes has been knocked out on a Cha Cha Cha. There’s no danger of him making it three in a row. “Team John-hannes” had power, punch and synchronicity in their spicy routine to “Starstruck” by Years & Years, John’s favourite band. An appreciative video message from frontman Olly Alexander was the icing on the choreographic cake.

When the two weeks’ scores were combined, John was second placed behind AJ. “If they’re not in the final, I’m going to riot,” said Strictly alumnus Clara Amfo on last night’s It Takes Two. At this rate, she might not be the only one.

Jamaica? No, Judi jigged of her own accord

Judi Love’s stylish American Smooth with Italian pro Graziano DiPrima last week was full of style, sass and storytelling. However, this week’s Samba to Jamaican rapper Sean Paul (a Strictly first) blew the roof off the ballroom.

To whoops, cheers and chants of “Judi! Judi!”, she shook her booty, thrust her hips at the judges and twerked like a dancehall diva. Motsi Mabuse and Shirley Ballas couldn’t resist joining in behind the judges’ table.

As Craig Revel Horwood said: “A technical dis-ah-ster, darling, but I love you. Your bottom should have its own show.” Your move, TV commissioners.

Adam Peaty flapped about on dry land

Olympic swimming star Adam Peaty and his fiercely competitive pro partner Katya Jones came joint second on the scoreboard last week with a cha-cha-charming Latin number. This week Peaty dived into the ballroom world for the first time with a fast, frothy quickstep. Sadly, he sank rather than swam.

Styled as a speccy geek on the New York subway, Peaty flew around the floor but there was fluffed footwork, frame issues and problems with gapping. He scored a lowly 19 points, 11 down on last time.

Peaty found this week’s training tough but he’s so fiercely competitive, he’s bound to bounce back. Besides, it wasn’t bad for a man who’s half-dolphin and has flippers for feet.

Could Robert Webb be the new Bill Bailey?

Webb took his Tango seriously

Comedian Robert Webb and Aussie pro Dianne Buswell’s camp Boney M Cha Cha Cha left them third from bottom last week. This time Webb got serious for a moody Tango and it hugely suited him.

Webb seemed to have learned the lesson from reigning champion Bill Bailey – a fellow funnyman who took Strictly seriously, worked hard and was rewarded with the glitterball trophy. I’m not sure Webb quite has Bailey’s nimble feet or natural musicality but he should still survive into November at least.

His terribly traditional Tango was a delight amid all the more gimmicky routines. It had sophistication, partnering skills and sharp footwork. Webb wanted to prove himself and he definitely did. Even the lamp post prop wobbled with surprise.

Covid casualties Tom and Amy threw a sickie

Only 14 of this year’s 15 couples graced the Elstree ballroom tonight. McFly frontman Tom Fletcher and Welsh pro Amy Dowden skipped the show after testing positive for Covid-19. The pair have both been vaccinated, before you ask.

The hope is they’ll return next Saturday but tabloids today reported fears that Fletcher could end up missing another week should he still feel unwell or test positive when his isolation period ends on Tuesday. Either way, they’d have just three days to perfect their routine.

However, Amy has been sharing steps with Tom via video, giving him “homework” so he can hit the dancefloor running. Pesky pandemic. Fingers crossed there are no more Covid disruptions to the contest.

Hoofing heartbreak looms for one couple

Two weeks’ worth of judgely scores will now be combined with the public vote and at 7.05pm on Sunday, the bottom two pairs will face this year’s first dreaded dance-off. Whoever loses will board the glittery bus home. Sob.

The survivors will take to the floor again at 6.45pm next Saturday for the annual celluloid spectacular which is Movie Week. Please join me back here afterwards for a full fake-tanned post mortem. Until then, as always: keeeeeeep dancing.

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