Strictly Come Dancing 2017: The claws are out on the judging table, “my dear”

It seems that polite formalities are long gone in Strictly Come Dancing, as the claws come out in Week 3. After the first elimination of the series Movie Week brought the sequined glamour you’d expect, but it was the fierce drama behind the music that stole the show. Judges and dancers took centre stage. Hollywood would have been proud.

When kindness found Craig

Known for his harsh attention to detail, some kind of movie magic wooed judge Craig Revel Horwood this week. It began with his praise of pop star Mollie King’s lifts, and continued into warm compliments for Holby City actor Joe McFadden and former JLS member Aston Merrygold – but no surprises there.

Craig even softened in his judgement of struggling Charlotte Hawkins’ performance despite the devastating tension (but more on that later), and he encouraged entertainer Brian Conley on his improvement. Casually donning a pink troll wig and adding some unconventional technical terms to his comments, Craig then gently dubbed Rev. Richard Coles’ hand movements as “quite peculiar” while informing us all of Eastenders’ Davood Ghadami’s “spatulisitic hands”. Tough to determine whether the Nice Guy act will last until next week.

Battle of the sexes for head judge Shirley

Setting the tone by scoring a harsh ‘Three’ for This Morning’s Ruth Langsford and her “balance issues”, head judge Shirley Ballas made no concessions this week. While Rev. Richard Coles undeniably put a smile on everyone’s face with a bold and bizarre Flash Gordon themed paso doble, it didn’t always feel like Shirley was laughing with him. ‘Good try’ is never a good sign, let’s be honest.

However, the real climax of the evening came when Charlotte Hawkins’ partner Brendan Cole fought back when Shirley critiqued his choreography. Advised to watch the performance back, Cole turns to Shirley and assures “my dear” that he will. The tension is palpable, at which point fellow judge Bruno urges the dancer to be respectful, in a fight that just came too soon. You can’t script that level of cut-throat sass.

After her standoff with Brendan, fans were left wondering if Shirley had a particular preference for certain celebrities this evening. As Craig congratulated comedian Susan Calman on her Wonder Woman-themed samba, the first of the series, Shirley as ever honed in on the technical mishaps.

This also fed her comments on Alexandra Burke’s American Smooth, elucidating (at length) the differences in foxtrots. Although several Twitter users felt the head judge sway in favour of the male celebrities throughout the evening, we can safely rule this out – as Shirley Ballas rounded off the evening by describing Davood Ghadami as “a little fillet of fish”.

It seems not only the celebrities put on a star-studded show tonight, as Movie Week proved that nothing is as you expect with drama in the Strictly ballroom. Tune in to Sunday evening’s results show to discover who will be the next to go.

Originally published on The Independent

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