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Strictly week eight talking points: From Layton’s ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ Argentine Tango to Ellie and Vito’s romantic Rumba

Craig Revel Horwood refuses to give out a 10 before Blackpool week as celebrities battle it out for spot in the Tower Ballroom

Isobel Lewis
Sunday 12 November 2023 13:40 GMT
Layton and Nikita perform passionate tango to stun Strictly judges

With Strictly Come Dancing heading to Blackpool next week, the competition has never been more fierce.

Saturday (11 November) night’s dance extravaganza saw scores high and low – and an embarrassing admission from Bobby Brazier – as the contestants gave it their all to impress the judges and viewers at home.

There was another near-perfect score for Layton Williams and partner Nikita Kuzmin, as he left judge Motsi Mabuse “speechless” with his Argentine Tango – even if Craig Revel Horwood refused to pull out his 10 paddle for the dance. You can find the full leaderboard here.

Here are the biggest talking points from Strictly week eight...

The word on everyone’s lips is… Blackpool

With just one week until Blackpool, the stakes have never been higher (BBC)

In case you hadn’t heard, next week on Strictly is Blackpool week! To be honest, it’s news you’d struggle to miss. After an opening montage about the contestants’ desperation to dance up north, Claudia Winkleman was at least self-aware as she opened the show, admitting that “yes, that is the fifth mention in two minutes”. But while the mentions of Blackpool may be a little excessive, it’s clear that making it to that famed mid-point in the competition means a lot to everyone. May the best dancer win!

Jack Whitehall is Layton Williams’s lucky charm

Whitehall attempted the moves with Kuzmin (BBC)

While rehearsing for his Argentine Tango, Williams received a visit from his former Bad Education co-star, stand-up comic Jack Whitehall. In the light-hearted VT, the comedian nitpicked Williams’s ganchos and ochos (technical moves) before trying and failing to emulate them with Kuzmin himself.

But the visit may have given Williams a boost, as the actor closed the show with a showstopping series-best performance. The judges were in awe, with Mabuse telling the pair: “Speechless. That happens once in a lifetime to me. But that was epic, iconic. It will never be done again like that. That was special, and I mean special within the whole world of the Strictly Come Dancing type of competition. That was the bomb.” The pair earned 39 points, infuriating social media fans who insisted it was worth 40. Which leads me to…

Craig Revel Horwood earns his “Mr Grumpy” title

Horwood was characteristically grumpy (BBC)

Horwood is known as Strictly’s resident meanie, but he seemed to particularly be on one tonight. When the other judges praised Nigel Harman, declaring him back on form, Horwood was unimpressed. While viewers drooled over Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola’s sensual Rumba, he could “see things wrong” with the performance. When Angela Scanlon picked up two nines, Horwood fixated on the “unforgivable gapping” between her and Carlos Gu.

Most unreasonable of all, however, was his refusal to give Williams and Kuzmin a perfect score, despite not providing them with a single critique and branding the dance simply “uh-may-zing”. Still, it’s not that surprising, as Horwood famously hates dishing out his 10 paddle before Blackpool week.

Bobby Brazier puts his foot in his mouth

Brazier put his head in his hands after the comment (BBC)

Brazier has earned a bit of a reputation for his lack of filter, and Saturday’s show was no exception for the EastEnders star. Speaking on a whim, the actor was left red in the face when he accidentally alluded to a “person that I shared the bed with” recently live on air. As the other dancers laughed around him, Brazier looked genuinely embarrassed, with Winkleman joking: “Let’s pull on that string,” before reassuring him: “I’ll tell you what, we’re gonna halt it there.”

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Annabel Croft’s surprise Samba leaves Anton du Beke lost for words

Croft and Radebe’s Samba left the judges rather flustered (BBC/Guy Levy)

After Croft won over the judges with her moving Couple’s Choice routine last week, the news that she would be dancing the notoriously tricky Samba this weekend left fans a little anxious – especially when it was revealed she’d be performing to Shakira’s “Whenever, Wherever”. But Croft and partner Johannes Radebe pulled no punches with their lively routine. Anton du Beke was giddy with excitement, cackling as he told Tess Daly: “I love it when you come to me first on Samba! It makes me feel a bit sick!”

Croft even got Horwood to dish out a compliment. After admitting he, too, had been “nervous” about the routine, he told her: “It seems you have finally given yourself permission to go wild.” And then there was Ballas, who told Croft: “When you let yourself go, I wet my pants, I was so excited. I was like, ‘Oh my god, she’s really really going for it!’” Quite…

Leach and Coppola continued to sparkle (BBC/Guy Levy)

Tongues have been wagging all week about a rumoured romance between Corrie star Leach and her partner Coppola, and their smooth and seductive Rumba didn’t help things. With Leach dancing in a beautiful flowing dress and Coppola’s chest bare (naturally) as they performed to Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colours”, the pair won over the viewers with their lyrical performance. It didn’t quite live up to their near-perfect score from last week, but it was an undeniably beautiful dance.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy’s yellow trousers

Guru-Murthy and Oakley found themselves at the bottom of the leaderboard (BBC/Guy Levy)

That’s all.

Strictly Come Dancing continues Sunday 12 November at 7.20pm on BBC One

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