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This week Strictly returned from Blackpool to London for week nine of the competition. With Christmas fast approaching, the competition is slowly coming to a close (try to contain crying right now) and it is getting difficult to distinguish the bad dancers from the good dancers. Could Strictly maintain the standard after the high of Blackpool? The answer is a definite yes. And it got even better when Claudia Winkleman returned to the floor with her strange humour.
The show was opened by Steve and Ola, who danced a jive, but failed to make an opening impression. Their jive was described as out of time and too flat by the judges, and Craig particularly disliked the dance, as shown by the four he awarded the couple. With an opening score of 23, the bar wasn't particularly set high for the rest of the couples. TV presenter Caroline Flack was the next to take to the stage with her American Smooth, which started horrifically when she almost slipped on her dress and tumbled to the floor. She managed to regain her balance though and put on an impressive performance which earned her a score of 33. Singer Pixie Lott and her partner Trent had the Charleston this week, and her performance was as flawless as ever. She never put a foot wrong, and her routine was full of slapstick, which is always associated with the Charleston. But will her dance history go against her as the competition continues and the public votes become more important? It has happened to previous contestants - Denise Van Outen, for instance.
Other notable couples of the night included Mark and Karen, whose tango was praised for intensity and for Mark's improvement over the previous weeks. They ended the evening with an amicable score of 32, whilst Sunetra and Brendan's waltz was a pleasant dance with a score of 30.
On the top of the leader board this week was Frankie and Kevin, and Jake and Janette. Both dances were leagues apart in style, with Jake performing a samba and Frankie a Viennese Waltz. Frankie and Kevin's waltz was praised by the judges for being light and Len particularly liked her fleckerl. Jake and Janette's samba was something entirely different. He danced to the Macarena and managed to shake his legendary hips, twerk and jump over Janette and land between her neck. It was a very impressive routine which had the judges smiling and laughing. With a score of 38 for both Jake and Frankie they came top of the leader board, and both earned two tens for their efforts. Not far behind them was Simon and Kristina. They ended the Saturday night show with a salsa which wasn't as good as their Argentine Tango from last week, but it was still impressive and a great improvement from his dances a few weeks ago.
The dance-off on Sunday night saw Sunetra and Brendan back in the bottom two, along with Steve and Ola. Without much hesitation Steve was sent on his way out of the competition, and Sunetra lives to dance for another week. With this being her second week in the dance-off, it seems probable that she might be back in that familiar place the following week, but who will be joining her? With all the other dances achieving such high scores, Strictly looks like it is set to bring another week of high calibre dancing.
Best Dance of the Night: Jake and Janette's samba had everything needed to entertain, and they danced to the school disco favourite Macarena.
Best Celebrity Guest Appearance in the Audience: Mary Berry was in the audience and announced that she loved a good Viennese Waltz...and then soggy bottom jokes ensued.
Best Outfit of the Night: Steve and Ola were definitely channelling their inner cheerleader in those outfits.