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Strictly Speaking: The final

What an extraordinary end to the series. The Strictly final aired time hours after Boris Johnson fixed his latest screeching u-turn, announcing that millions of people would have to cancel their holiday designs and invest Christmas separated from loved ones. Could our dance appearance, which has been an escapist haven during a frightful, dark winter, successfully pivot from Scrooge to shine?

Of course it could. This was actually one of the best finals we’ve seen in senilities, with several genuinely deserving winners( and Jamie ), and real pressure as the momentum swung back and forth between them( Jamie was also there ). HRVY had a strong guide, and I would have been happy for Maisie to secure it at the end, but there’s no disputing that Bill Bailey and Oti Mabuse are superb advocates. They show the teach/ student dynamic, real respect for the artwork kind, splendid musicality and partnering, plus a zany foible that’s maintained us suspecting throughout.

It’s also a fascinating subversion of Strictly casting. Clearly, Bill was meant to be the oddball dad-dancer, who supplied a few weeks of slapstick and then bowed out- imparting last year’s winner, Oti, a shorter run. However, farmers hadn’t anticipated with Bill’s commitment and operate ethic , nor Oti’s dedicated develop. Never again will we be so quick to write off older contestants, or to underestimate Strictly’s strongest teacher and choreographer.

We must also give big, vast thanks to the show’s entire cast and product crew( who made up the final’s studio audience, hurrah ). They brought us a big, live present every single week in extremely challenging circumstances, with numerous forming personal sacrifices, like not considering their own families. I’m frankly not sure a tiresome society ought to have been built it through its first year without Strictly. Never have the arts been more vital, for our mental health issues, wellbeing and morale- and we are able to but hope everyone produces that in imagination as we enter another current difficulties for the cultural sector. If it gives you joy, satisfy supporting it.

Other stumbles and misses:

Ts and Cs randos included Elizabeth Hurley (!!), and Idris Elba and Paul McCartney (!!!). Which ... was surprising, at least? HIT We too got a royal seal of approval from Camilla. Fancy joining next year’s cast? HIT So fab to see Nicola and Katya back, and with a procedure hinting at the enormous untapped potential of their partnership. Gutting that they had to leave so soon, but they’ve stimulated record as the first of- hopefully- many same-sex partnerships on the present. Collision The Family prop tops were out in force: HRVY gave us an completely shameless Grandparents: Anniversary Edition. Endorsements-wise, Bill ruled them all with a meaning from Queen. We are the supporters! HIT/ MISS One more annoyingly over-conceptual pro dance for the road. Sigh. MISS A wonderful returning celebs radical dance, peculiarity Mariah, Santa hats, feather fans and Monty Python. What more could you ask for? HIT A totes emosh escapade. Claud went suffocated up thanking the product crew. Lovely Aljaz cried when Janette lastly got to do a showdance. Motsi cried when Oti earned. I cried multiple times. MY GOD, I EVEN CRIED AT ROBBIE WILLIAMS. All very cathartic. HIT Ahem, are talking about which: Robbie did a determinedly mediocre Christmas song. He’s no Buble. MISS

Best in Show

Best concert: Bill’s showdance DR-MA! Best attire: Maisie’s samba dress All acclaim the return of that flamingo carcass. Best move: Bill’s guitar playing The soul can shred. Best argument: Jamie’s sister demanding he utter Giovanni her count Priorities.

Tess’s dress: astonished or depressed?

Tess Daly Claudia

So, here’s where that now-useless turkey bacofoil purposed up. Claud in floaty tulle prom dress.

Judges’ Choice

HRVY and Janette- Singing the same tune


This jive was obviously a standout back in Week 1, and HRVY has made some improvements since then. He had his slightly further weight forward, so his fluctuation was sharper, and the stunts appeared slicker and more confident. However, still unusually flat-footed, which meant he gaped clompy at times instead of springing out of the storey, and rarely out of time, plus declined the performance, in transition periods. It’s frustrating that he never actually grew in technical points like this, applied his immense talent- I wonder whether that might have been different with another pro collaborator. Still, it was a fun opener, and laid down a marker.

Song: “Faith”, Stevie Wonder feat. Ariana Grande

Judges’ explains: Shirley likened him to bottle of champagne. Amazing. Motsi said it was fast, fresh and youthful. Craig thought it was cleaner and more precise than before.

Judges’ values: 9, 10, 10- 29( up from 8, 8, 9- 25)

Jamie and Karen- Bad hair day


A baffling pick from the judges, ensuring that we got three dances from Jamie that all involved lots of clowning and scooting around, instead of some contrast via, say, an actual ballroom multitude danced with ascendancy and clevernes.( Well ... theoretically .) I was irritated by their Hercules Charleston first time round, even more so here in the final. Once again fumbling slapstick, extremely stop-start and juvenile. Occasional improvements in footwork, the end lift was less hazardous and the wig remained employed, otherwise truly not worth the reproduce. Plus it felt lower intensity, perhaps because he was pacing himself with two more “hurtle round the storey like a seven-year-old high on sugar” performances to come...

Song: “Zero To Hero”, Tawatha Agee, Lillias White, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, Cheryl Freeman and Vaneese Y. Thomas from Hercules

Judges’ criticisms: Motsi said there were improvements in his knocks and weight placement. Craig said it was looser (!!) and great syncopation. Shirley affection the characterisation.

Judges’ ratings: 8, 9, 9- 26( up from 7, 8, 8- 23)

Bill and Oti- Animal magic

Bill Bailey1

Bill has come a long way since Week 2 in technical terms, and this quickstep was a marvelous showcase( albeit one that still gave me a heart attack with its sodding animals- shoo, demon monkey !). His wide frame was much more assured, his head position more consistent, his knocks neater, and the whole performance had more pizzazz. That’s the result of hard work and enormous belief from Oti. With a stronger technical foundation came an even better action, since he could start the dance watch easy and joyful. This partnership has definitely been my beloved in 2020, and their combined musicality has been a delight.

Song: “Talk to the Animals”. Bobby Darin

Judges’ commentaries: Craig called it ignited and luminous, and praised the enclose. Shirley said it was beautiful, with an remarkable joining. Motsi admired his naturalnes, control and timing.

Judges’ values: 9, 10, 10- 29( up from 8, 8, 8- 24)

Maisie and Gorka- Pretty in pink

Maisie Gorka1

Even though Maisie came in as a ringer- and stayed all kinds of abuse for her comparative know- she’s actually changed terribly through the tournament. This Week 1 samba was a wow debut, but it’s fascinating to see how she’s domesticate that mad vigor since, detected more fluidity and smoother modulations, and refined the movement by set her sloppy footwork and value placement. That uttered her a better treat on this complicated form, including its changing tempi. And all while still maintaining that fearlessness which meets her such an exciting musician. Add in pink stripes and Gloria Estefan, and this was irresistible.

Song: “Samba”, Gloria Estefan

Judges’ mentions: Shirley announced it sizzling and erotic, with beautiful spouse awareness, idiom and improved footwork. Motsi loved the intention, tempo, soft arms and samba wheels. Craig said it was smashing.

Judges’ compositions: 9, 10, 10- 39( up from 8, 8, 8- 24)

Showdance HRVY and Janette- Dancing queen


This is the first final that Janette has reached in eight years of Strictly, and clearly she had eight years’ worth of impressions accumulated up. Their jam-packed showdance peculiarity disco-salsa, Charleston, trendy hop, yet more stairs, maneuvers galore( including the keepie-uppie move from Jake Wood’s salsa ), and INSANE raises, even for gravity-averse Janette. It was incredible that HRVY lived it. Nonetheless, the emphasis felt wrong: we came away wowed by her acrobatic prowess , not HRVY’s improved dancing- in fact, his salsa shortcoming trendy activity, and the routine felt frantic, with elevators breaking up the flow. Impressive, but a missed chance to show us something new or to connect emotionally.

Song: “Boogie Wonderland”, Brittany Murphy( COPYCAT KLAXON: Ainsley Harriott and Natalie, Ashley Roberts and Pasha)

Judges’ remarks: Motsi praised the isolations and hurried. Craig wanted more hip action, but loved the cross-section of forms and hoists. Shirley approved of the performance and the container stir.

Judges’ compositions: 9, 10, 10- 39

Jamie and Karen- Rolling with the punches


Quite the study in distinguishes here. Where HRVY’s number was precise but shortcoming cheerfulnes, Jamie and Karen gave us a sizzling mess of a showdance- but one danced with great heart and abandon, which in fact cleared it more enjoyable to watch. The flying was unnecessary, exactly killing duration without real impact, nonetheless the performance itself demo just how much fun these two have together. Technically ... less huge, with stompy jive, wild free weapon, and, with a roly poly and dodgy cartwheel, looked more like a kids’ gymnastics display than a showdance. Likewise: do you really want to take on the music from St Jill’s Holy Jive ?! However, a good topic for this underdog pair.

Song: “I’m Still Standing”, Elton John( COPYCAT KLAXON: Jill Halfpenny and Darren, Harry Judd and Aliona, Jake Wood and Janette, Stacey Dooley and Kevin)

Judges’ observations: Craig said it was an aerobic workout. Shirley liked that Jamie dances from his feeling, plus good sync. Motsi called it incredible.

Judges’ orchestrates: 9, 10, 10- 39

Bill and Oti- The greatest entertainer

Bill Oti 2

A risky one this, departing darknes and striking when the others all opted for jovial in their showdances, but I actually think it paid off. It felt like they were fighting for that accolade, plus it was a great shift in tint from their quickstep and Couple’s Choice, while playing to Bill’s strengths as a theatrical musician and rocker. Good mix of paso and Argentine tango, plus a hint of their cha cha, strong elevators- and, most important, it felt like one coherent routine, with a phenomenal erect to that epic climax( guitar solo! Fire! Oti hanging from a band !). The message of disregard in the face of this horrific year too hit home.

Song: “The Show Must Go On”, Queen

Judges’ criticisms: Shirley affection that it built from stillness to drama, with musicality and strength. Motsi said it felt like theatre. Craig: “It reeked of madnes. I loved it! ”

Judges’ composes: 10, 10, 10- 30

Maisie and Gorka- The most wonderful time of its first year

Maisie Gorka

A super-Christmassy theme felt rather bittersweet, given the( unanticipated) framework, but this was still a completely enchanting quantity, with classic Hollywood glamour and a confusing-yet-fabulous frock( shiny, sequins, diaphanous, featherings, somehow like a coat and a negligee simultaneously !). Fanciful characterisation and jazzy musicality, with enormous joining even when dancing apart- although I would have desired more in hold too. The trust heave was startling, more fit within the feel of the procedure, and the performance depicted Maisie’s new ability to not just manage the steps, but to do so with real mode and verve. Surely she’ll be forgiveness a stagecoach soon- once theatres reopened ...

Song: “We Need A Little Christmas”, Idina Menzel

Judges’ observations: Motsi called her “Amazing Maisie”. Craig couldn’t find anything wrong with it. Shirley said it was exquisite, from the tantalize minutes in the middle to the big finish.

Judges’ orchestrates: 10, 10, 10- 30

Favourite Dance

HRVY and Janette- All that glitters


Another outing for their Week 7 American smooth- although, sacrificed it had very little foxtrot, all danced up on the toes and with a dodgy hamper, I continue to battle this is actually jazz/ melodic theatre instead, and so should have come under Couple’s Choice. It also felt somewhat eclipsed by the showdance we’d just seen from Maisie, which was similarly jazzy and glistening, but had more charisma. Nonetheless, another impressive showcase for their quicken and presentation, with slick filches and twistings, and slightly more animation this time in HRVY’s facial expressions. Surely an achievement.

Song: “One” from A Chorus Line( COPYCAT KLAXON: Emma Bunton and Darren)

Judges’ mentions: Craig: “Fab-u-lous.” Shirley said it was perfect. Motsi thanked them for the dance, and for passing her a hat.

Judges’ scores: 10, 10, 10- 30( up from 9, 10, 10- 39)

Jamie and Karen- Take a separate


So, this happened ... again. More uptight force from Jamie, along with good sync and deceptions, plus certainly some of the worst- and whitest- breakdancing ever seen on television. I still don’t know how we adjudicate freestyle on Strictly, and nor does anyone else. This was penalize for what it was, but didn’t require any of the self-restraint of a placed ballroom wording.( At least, it wasn’t scored that lane .) As we’ve all been saying for ages, the register truly, certainly needs to rethink its use of the increasingly nebulous Couple’s Choice. But Jamie and Karen clearly had a ball do it, so that was something.

Song: “Gonna Make You Sweat( Everybody Dance Now) ”, C& C Music Factory

Judges’ comments: Shirley said he encapsulated the exuberance of dance. Motsi loved his energy. Craig called it brilliant.

Judges’ ratings: 9, 10, 10- 29( no change)

Bill and Oti- Sunny delight

Bill Oti3

Another Couple’s Choice, though a riskier proposition given the amount of prop work involved- and Bill’s admission last-place day round that they’d really exclusively nailed it in act. As exhaustively substantiated, I please CC didn’t exist, but at least this amount had more specificity than “vaguely retro MTV backing dancer”, and its overwhelming cool has manufactured it a follower beloved. Once again, Bill’s strength as a performer was make all the hard work, but gifting us the entertaining of the procedure- the ease, the swagger, the humour and the note-perfect musicality, all while wholly connected to Oti. It’s impossible to watch without smiling, and son do the work requires that right now.

Song: “Rapper’s Delight”, The Sugarhill Gang

Judges’ remarks: Motsi praised the simplicity of movement and star quality. Craig said he sounded, fastened and rocked. Shirley called him a performer of the highest quality.

Judges’ tallies: 9, 10, 10- 39( up from 8, 10, 9- 27)

Maisie and Gorka- A flying finish


Finally, a very welcome encore for Maisie’s dazzling quickstep. She unquestionably proved she’s the best ballroom dancer in this final, granting us a cracking samba and then this sensational number- a super balance of technique and conduct. Gorka showcased her so well here, and, exasperating though it is that she had to address any sort of “likeability” issue, this chore certainly did the number of jobs, with all its charming, quaint minutes and buoyant motion. Even better drive round the storey this time, less gapping, a beautiful chassis, and a great variation in dynamics. It too looked like they were both having fun with it. A terrific last competitive dance in a fab final.

Song: “When You’re Smiling”, Andy Williams( COPYCAT KLAXON: Jan Raven and Anton, Claudia Fragapane and AJ)

Judges’ criticisms: Craig spoke for us all, saying he was sad that this was the last dance. Shirley praised the amazing slide in Maisie’s stride and well-maintained frame. Motsi called her a reflect diamond.

Judges’ scores: 9, 10, 10- 39( no change)( boo Craig)


Maisie and Gorka- 29+ 30+ 29= 88

HRVY and Janette- 29+ 29+ 30= 88

Bill and Oti- 29+ 30+ 29= 88

Jamie and Karen- 26+ 29+ 29= 84

A three-way tie for top, with Jamie just behind.

Final result

Our winners were ... Bill and Oti! That ends two Exclusively records: our oldest champ, and too Oti becomes the first pro ever to defend her claim, prevailing two years in a row. Plenty of rips were shed, be placed in my front room. Just a purely fortunate minute when we all really needed it.

What did "youre thinking about" the final? Did the right couple prevail? What did you obligate of the 2020 serials overall? Get in touch on Twitter: @mkmswain

See you next year for more Solely fun- hopefully in cheerier environments. In the meantime, remain safe and ... keep dancing!

Photographs: Guy Levy, courtesy of the BBC.

The post Strictly Speaking: The final loomed first on Dancing Times.

Read more: dancing-times.co.uk

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