He entered the series on horseback, every inch the dashing Willoughby from Sense and Sensibility, but Greg Wise exits while wearing giant frilly sleeves and twerking. Strictly can be a cruel mistress. His error-strewn samba left him bottom of the leaderboard after Saturday's show, and five points adrift from his nearest rival, Judi Love. But, following a night of disagreements, it was yet another split decision from the judges.
Shirley Ballas would have saved Wise
It looked like we were heading for a unanimous vote. Following a nervous dance-off, in which both jittery contestants made several mistakes, Craig Revel Horwood said he was saving the better dancer, which in his opinion was Love. Motsi Mabuse agreed, arguing that Love recovered slightly better from her mistakes, and Anton Du Beke – who has gone against his fellow judges in the previous two dance-offs – also felt that Love had shown more composure.
With a majority of three votes for Love, she was duly saved and Wise sent home. But when head judge Shirley Ballas was asked for her opinion, she revealed that she would have gone the other way. "I counted all the mistakes, and from what I saw, I would have saved Greg and Karen," said Ballas.
It's another close call, after the judges were divided on whether to save Nina Wadia or Katie McGlynn in Week 2, and then McGlynn or Judi Love in Week 3. Following that pattern, Love is surely the favourite to leave the ballroom next week, but then this season has been anything but predictable.
He brought Bond to the ballroom
So, it's farewell to lovely Greg Wise, who brought bags of charm to Strictly. It's been a great pleasure following his "journey", both on the show and via his wonderful columns . And he had a good run: channelling Fred Astaire, living out his acting dream of playing 007, and paying tribute to his late sister Clare, the disco diva who inspired him to take part. His heartfelt words about losing loved ones and the importance of end-of-life care will surely have resonated with millions of viewers.
We also got the bonus of several Emma Thompson sightings, as she visited the studio and training room to support her hoofing husband. A brief glimpse of her dancing with Wise's partner, Karen Hauer, suggested she would be a dream signing – although, admittedly, a very unlikely one.
Wise said he felt "unbelievably privileged" to have taken part and that he'd had an amazing time on Strictly. Hauer added a special thanks for the homemade lunches that master chef Wise had brought into training every day. What a man.
U can't touch Dan Walker
Like Wise, he performed a technically dubious Latin dance to a pop classic: in his case, a cha cha cha to MC Hammer. A rather generous score of 26 still left him third from bottom on the leaderboard, though. Can he up his game next week? It's already feeling more serious in the ballroom, perhaps because we're suddenly a much smaller cast with the loss of Robert Webb and temporary absence of Ugo Monye.
Also surviving are Rose Ayling-Ellis and AJ Odudu, who had a slight loss of form with their cha cha cha and samba respectively. But, strategically, it's a good idea to get some of these tricky dances out the way early if you're hoping to last until the final. Conversely, Rhys Stephenson has just gone from a freestyle Couple's Choice to a fast and loose salsa. But he can't keep avoiding the slower and more technically demanding ballroom styles forever.
Bringing the funk
Led by Giovanni Pernice and new addition Jowita Przystal, the Strictly professional dancers opened proceedings with a funky, stylised group number in a hall of mirrors, set to Chaka Khan's Like Sugar. Dressed in matching monochromatic suits with black hats and spats, it was like the Blues Brothers-meets-Michael Jackson.
It was a fun concept but, once again, some viewers wondered why we seldom see ballroom performances from our ballroom specialists these days. Surely that would be inspiring for the celebrity contestants, too? As the judges start drilling down into the technique, it could help enormously to see how it's meant to be done. Unless someone picks Thriller Live for Musicals Week, this routine was rather less instructive.
Back to the 90s – again
We had the Macarena and MC Hammer on Saturday night. Adding to the weekend's nostalgia overload was a performance from Irish crooners Westlife, who made their debut back in 1999. The band are releasing their 12 th studio album in November and treated us to new lead single Starlight, which sounds…very much like everything else they've ever done. It was also a homecoming for Nicky Byrne, who competed in the 10 th season of Strictly.
Gorka Marquez (who partnered last week's eliminated celebrity, Katie McGlynn) teamed up with Luba Mushtuk for the pro dance accompaniment, but naturally the sparkly-jacket-wearing Westlife had their own signature moves too. Cue the air grabs and microphone dips!
Time to retire the Saturday myth
No one is fooled by the BBC's pretence that the results show is actually taking place on Sunday night – we all know it's pre-recorded on Saturday. And yet everyone has to keep up the charade. Well, almost everyone. Love rather gave the game away by assiduously retweeting all the commenters who were upset to see her in the dance-off – right after the "live" announcement. It might have soothed her hurt feelings, but it rather took away from the drama of the moment.
Still, it did show that Love has plenty of supporters, including former Strictly professional James Jordan, who keeps up his own running commentary. But Twitter chat isn't enough: the actual strength of her voting fanbase will be tested again soon.
So gutted for Judi
— James Jordan (@The_JamesJordan) October 17, 2021
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