The Wanted’s Jay McGuiness is now the last celebrity man standing in Strictly Come Dancing and he is the red hot favourite to lift the glitterball on December 19. But is he the certainty that his odds of 4/7 suggest? I don’t think so.
There’s another slight anomaly in the Strictly betting market. Why is the actress Helen George an 18/1 outsider when she has been the overall top scorer so far? Helen has the help of the Slovenian hunk, Aljaz Skorjanec, who coached Abbey Clancy to victory in 2013 in his first season as a Strictly pro.
McGuiness is partnered by the now savvy Aliona Vilani. Vilani’s dodgy choreography may well have resulted in Countryfile’s extremely talented Matt Baker finishing merely as the runner-up in 2010 but she redeemed herself by winning with the equally able Harry Judd in 2011. Vilani can’t be blamed for the early departures of Tony Jacklin and Gregg Wallace. Both were no-hopers better suited to a guest appearance on the Woodentops.
This season she has superb material to work with and soon persuaded McGuiness to lose his trailing rock star locks and beard to maximise his boyish charm. Her controlling approach has been noted. The tabloids have claimed that she won’t let him socialise and is incredibly possessive. Vilani now allegedly prefers to change in Jay’s room rather than with the other pros.
This isn’t the first controversy. McGuiness first showcased the level of his talent in the jive back in the third week scoring 37. We all saw that he was an exceptional mover but then we discovered that he’d been to dance school!
McGuiness had not managed to equal that jive score of 37 until his near perfect performance in the tango that gained him 38 points from the judges. In the meantime we’ve learned that he’s capable of forgetting his steps and may well struggle in the final stages when two routines are required. McGuiness is the second highest total scorer and a very likeable character who copes with the all-important Strictly chat side well. He recently joked about Vilani: “She’s results driven. I cry weekly.” The first part was true. He may well win it for the boys (and well done anyone who backed him pre-jive at 8/1) but 4/7 is ridiculous.
The 7/2 second favourite in the Strictly odds, Corrie actress Georgia May Foote, is a much more attractive proposition. She is guided by a new Strictly pro, Giovanni Pernice. Pernice has angered head judge Len with his attitude in the past and has had to suppress his innate arrogance. He has ‘Born to Win’ (in Italian) tattooed on his arm but has only won one major championship himself. Fortunately he has been blessed with an extremely talented pocket rocket of a partner.
Georgia can handle both ballroom and Latin dances. She is also extremely down-to-earth with a great sense of humour and is very easy on the eye. Her total score of 321 puts her third on the overall leaderboard. Her only handicap is her partner. He doesn’t appear to be the sharpest tool in the box and his choreography reflects that. He tends to throw an enormous amount of content into every routine without finessing the detail. If Georgia wins it will be in spite of him rather than because of him.
The more experienced pro Kevin Clifton partners EastEnders actress Kellie Bright 40/1. Clifton is a solid choreographer who had never experienced a dance-off before he teamed up with Kellie. He deliberately includes difficult ballroom steps such as the notorious fleckerl and ensures that they are performed right in front of the judges – so Len can’t miss it. But the public don’t appear to be supportive of his partner.
The behind the scenes SCD gang don’t seem to like Kellie either. She comes across well on camera but is she a pain backstage? She has been literally stitched up by wardrobe and done no favours by the make-up team recently. She manages to get the worst costume and make-up of the lot. Kellie and Kevin are only four points behind Georgia and Giovanni on the overall scoreboard but they have taken over from Jamelia and Tristan as veterans of the dance-off. They’ve had to dance their last two routines twice and look unlikely to make it to the final.
Anton Du Beke, the much-loved veteran Strictly pro has, for the first time in recent memory, been given a partner who can actually dance in the shape of BBC presenter Katie Derham (33/1). Judge Craig Revel-Horwood commented early on that Anton needed to be reminded that this was a show that went on until Christmas.
The elegant Katie and Anton are at the bottom of the overall leaderboard with a total score of 273 but are yet to experience the dance-off. Anton has his own following which has prolonged the Strictly experience of his previous no-hoper partners (like Ann Widdecombe and Judy Murray). He’s understandably forgotten how to push his ladies’ talents and choreograph Latin routines for someone who can dance. This pair shine in the personality stakes but still look unlikely to win.
A partnership at the opposite end of the points table share their ‘unlikely to win’ profile. Helen George was trained in ballet and leads the total points table with a score of 329, four points ahead of Jay and Aliona. She’s not been faced with the dance-off yet but she’s usually in a safe position before the public vote kicks in. That’s probably just as well. She looks like a doll and appears to have about as much personality as one. She has gracefully shed tears (wasn’t there a doll called Tiny Tears?).
This competition usually becomes a popularity contest in the final when the judges’ scores are for guidance only. If Helen had half the personality of her ‘Call The Midwife’ character she’d stand a good chance. So far she seems to have about as much character as a wet tea towel. If Aljaz persuades her to act a character in the final and make her appear to have the passion and personality she appears to lack she’d stand a chance. I can’t see it happening but 18/1 does seem generous.
In contrast Countryfile’s Anita Rani (10/1 and pictured above) has personality and passion galore. She’s teamed with another Strictly pro newcomer, Gleb Savchenko. Judge Craig Revel-Horwood has spoken of the ‘hunk-off’ between Gleb and Aljaz. Gleb has won it.
Handsome is as handsome does and Gleb has shown his flair for crowd-pleasing choreography. He likes to challenge the rules and dared to include an illegal lift in the rumba. He’s performed contemporary dance influenced moves that have never been seen on the Strictly dance floor.
The couple were in the bottom two after the rumba and Quickstepathon after the judges’ scores were announced but were saved by the public. It was Andre and Bright that were in the dance-off suggesting that Gleb and Anita have the voting public’s support.
This pair are only fifth in the overall dance score table with a total of 305 but Anita is still improving and has not made a serious mistake in any of her recent routines. If the final takes the usual format with judges’ scores providing a guide only, she is in with a very good chance. Why? Because Gleb’s new moves from the contemporary dance scene could well provide a show dance (where there are no rules) that could do for Anita what Pasha did for Caroline Flack in 2014. She won. In the final the show dance is everything and Gleb appears to be the man for the job.
Strictly Betting Tip Conclusion
The Strictly betting market seems to be clouded by a fog of glitter. Yes, Jay McGuiness is good but he is not a good bet at 4/7. Georgia May Foote looks a much more tempting proposition at 7/2 but I would rather risk a small bet on ANITA RANI, best priced at 10/1 to win SCD with Ladbrokes and Coral, and the latter still go each-way at 1/4 odds 1,2.