Strictly judges take things one step too far
This year, I'm afraid to say, Strictly hasn't been as gripping as the last. Previous years have seen contestants fighting to stay in the game, now with Natalie and Leila out of the competition, we've only got little Chris and his delightful dance partner Ola who are really in it to win it.
There's no doubt Ricky and Ali both have natural dancing talent - but neither of them have improved anywhere near as much as Chris Hollens, the BBC Breakfast sports presenter.
As a dance critic, I love watching Strictly with a sharp eye - seeing how the contestants grow and improve, and enjoying the professional dancers for technique and stunning ability.
But what keeps me in on a Saturday night is the competitive element to the show - as the weeks go on you begin to support and favour certain couples, regardless of dancing ability.
The sad reality now is, the judges appear to already have chosen the winner. On last Saturday night's show, Head judge Len Goodman told Ali Bastian, "When you come back next week I want to see...". Er, hang on a minute. "When"? Surely head judge Len, who ultimately has the overriding say in a dance off, meant to say "If"??? I had to rewind the show (the beauty of 'catch-up') and play that bit back again. And clear as day, Len had said "When". He said it so fervently there was no shadow of a doubt he intended to bring Ali back next week even if she was in the dance-off.
This obviously riled me somewhat. All the judges seem to think Ali can do no wrong. But if Len has already decided he wants her to win it, what's the point of me even watching?
I'm comforted by the news the dance-off may be scrapped for next week - giving me a hint of hope Chris and Ola may make it to the final. But if the judges, who are constantly damning on Chris despite his footwork and general performance being consistently better than Ricky Whittle, have already decided they want Ricky and Ali in the final - it won't make much fun watching for an audience who crave a good competition.
If the tabloids are right, both Ali and Ricky appear to have fallen in love with their professional partners and care little for winning at all. It's up to the public to keep Chris in, and the judges ought to be a little more careful in the future about showing worrying signs of rigging the final. If someone could put the convoluted scoring scheme into plain English for me, perhaps I would be less convinced the judges picked Ricky and Ali to be in the final right from the start.
In other Strictly news I was a little disappointed with Darcy Bussell's performance as new judge before she eased into her new role and began to add some discerning comments. Hopefully she'll be less inclined to side with the judges in their unanimous voting methods, and speak out on the side of good dance entertainment.