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We came to the end! The week’s second nationwide ballot (and, let’s face it, by far the more important) yielded – in my humble opinion – exactly the right result, with the consistently brilliant Kelvin and Oti lifting the glitterball trophy. This hard-working team has been a pleasure throughout the series, strong across all the ballroom and Latin dances, not just the novelty numbers, and truly working as a partnership. It’s a win for that principle of partner dancing: the conversation between two people, telling a story through movement, and creating something together.
Kelvin Fletcher and partner Oti Mabuse were the incredibly worthy winners of Strictly 2019. The super sub, drafted at the last minute to replace an injured Jamie Laing, turned out to the secret weapon of this series – the modest, manly bloke with an impressive work ethic and even more impressive snake hips.
Who can forget Mark Ramprakash’s salsa crisis in Series 4? It’s a classic Strictly moment: he and his partner became entangled in a microphone cable and had to stop their performance. Bruce Forsyth sprang into action – quickly ascertaining the problem and getting the OK from producers for them to start again, positively giddy with the spontaneity of it all. “I love it, this is LIVE television!” he hooted.
The semi-final offered up the two-dance challenge, which usually gives a strong indication of who’s ready for the final itself. But, in case you were in any doubt, the judges made their views very clear – i.e. no Chris under any circumstances! His (admittedly just OK) dances were given the full killing them with kindness treatment, the panel all but shoving him into a taxi while screaming “THE NORTH, GO GO GO!”.
Strictly Come Dancing 2019 semi-final: who danced it best? Kelvin Fletcher is the technical master across two dances
By this stage, our celebrities can handle one dance – but two? That separates the contenders from the pretenders, as Len Goodman used to say. Leading contender, and surely hot favourite for the trophy, is Kelvin Fletcher, who impressed in a starkly contrasting pair of numbers.
We’ve had Chess the musical; now, here’s Chess the play. Tom Morton-Smith, who has experience wrestling recent history into dramatic form with the acclaimed Oppenheimer, turns his attention to the 1972 World Chess Championship in Reykjavík, in which American challenger Bobby Fischer battled the Soviet Union’s Boris Spassky. The event gained outsize importance from the Cold War propaganda battle – the two men pawns in their countries’ games, and the match characterised as the lone hero versus the Soviet machine.
How ripping! A saucy French maid doing the Charleston with a handsome chap in tennis whites sets the scene for the most delightful escapism in town: Matthew White’s gossamer-light revival of Sandy Wilson’s 1953 love letter to the Roaring Twenties. It was once the third-longest-running stage musical, and boosted Julie Andrews’ career on Broadway.
Ah, Musicals Week – AKA Dressing-up Box Explosion 2: Wig Warz!. Pretty unsubtle work here from the Strictly producers and judges, with a clear division between sensible theme/dance matches and bizarre combos, and between sky-high quarter-final scores and mediocre ones. Add in bias in the show’s running order, plus the online system going down for a chunk of the voting time, and let those conspiracy theories run riot!