Entertainment & Arts

Strictly Come Dancing finalists limber up

Strictly Come Dancing Finalists
Image caption This year's finalists (clockwise from top left): Natalie Gumede, Susanna Reid, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Abbey Clancy

For the first time, the Strictly Come Dancing final on Saturday will have an all-female line-up.

Abbey Clancy, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Natalie Gumede and Susanna Reid and their professional partners will all perform a routine chosen by the judges and a showdance.

One couple will be voted out of the competition and the final three will go on to dance their favourite routine from the series. The judges will comment on the performances, but it will be down to the viewers to decide on the winner.

The finalists took a break from rehearsals on Thursday morning to reflect on the series and reveal how they are getting ready for the big day.


Highest score: Week 10 - Salsa: 40/40

What the judges said: "Finally you are oozing confidence in the Latin. A five star routine." - Darcey Bussell

Number of times in dance off: Once

Model Abbey Clancy says she never expected to get so far in the competition. "I'm completely surprised. I've never danced before and I didn't have any expectations which makes getting to the final even more special."

Clancy said rehearsals with dance partner Aljaz Skorjanec were "quite chilled" but admitted she had been "quite hard on myself" about getting things right throughout the series.

"It's going to be our last time dancing together, so I just want to have fun, do my best and hopefully it'll be enough."

Clancy, who is married to Stoke City footballer Peter Crouch, said she was glad that the public had had the chance to see another side of her beyond modelling.

"People are used to seeing pictures of me. I haven't got a strong TV career so this has been good for that. People haven't been that negative towards me.

"I am who I am, and I'm not coming on Strictly to prove myself as a person. I'm coming on Strictly to learn how to dance and have the best time ever - which I have."

She added that the series had kept her fit. "I've got a six pack and no boobs!" she joked. "I've definitely toned up."

Dances for Grand Final:

Judges' Choice: The Waltz to Kissing You by Des'ree

Showdance: Sweet Child of Mine by Guns N Roses

Couples' Favourite: The Quickstep to Walking On Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves


Highest score: Week 12 - Salsa: 40/40

What the judges said: "Well I'm a little bit upset actually because I couldn't find much wrong with it to be honest. " - Craig Revel Horwood

Number of times in dance off: Once

Natalie Gumede says she and partner Artem Chigvintsev did not have their confidence dented by being in the semi-final dance off.

"We'd been expecting it for a few weeks and it finally happened," she said. "We were quite philosophical because it gave us a chance to dance again and do the Argentine Tango which I loved."

The former Coronation Street actress, who played evil Kirsty Soames in a domestic violence plotline, said: "I have been myself, I'm not sure people have always seen that - there's a few who still can't forgive me for what Kirsty did to Tyrone."

Gumede, one of the most experienced dancers at the start of the competition, said the judges had been "hard on us, but not unfair".

She added: "They're seeing perhaps a potential that I'm not completely fulfilling, so perhaps I'm being judged in a slightly different way to other people."

She said she had no plans to explore a career as a dancer. "For me this was about falling in love with dancing and self-expression. It was never about getting in a West End musical.

"What I love about Strictly has been bringing my experience as an actor to the dance floor. It's made me realize how much I love acting.

"Would I like to dance in a film? Yes, of course! But it's not part of my plan at the moment."

Dances for Grand Final:

Judges' Choice: The Cha Cha to Boney M's Rasputin

Showdance: Steppin' Out with My Baby by Christina Aguilera and Tony Bennett

Couples' Favourite: American Smooth to Jennifer Hudson's And I'm Telling You, I'm Not Going


Highest score: Week 12 - American Smooth: 36/40 (also week 10 - Viennese Waltz: 36/40 and week two - Charleston: 36/40)

What the judges said: "You were sprinkling stardust all around the room. For me, your best performance to date." - Bruno Tonioli

Number of times in dance off: None

Sophie Ellis-Bextor admits she is relieved that she and partner Brendan Cole have not faced a dance off throughout the series.

"I honestly don't know how I would have coped with it," she said.

But she said there had been some "testing moments" during the judging. "I have experienced that demoralising feeling of things not turning out as you'd hoped and luckily it seemed to galvanise us a bit and come out fighting."

The singer, whose hits include Murder On The Dancefloor, said she would miss the "adrenalin rush" of the rehearsals and the performance.

"Only a small amount of the things I've loved have been on the screen - the training days have been brilliant," she said.

"The whole reason I did this is because I love dancing," she added. "I still can't quite believe I'm in the final but we've put so much hard work into it and it's brought so much pleasure and that seems to have reflected back at us."

Ellis-Bextor said her time on show had prompted some pertinent memories from her family. "I spoke to my grandpa yesterday who's in his 80s and he said my great granny used to do the Charleston on stage!"

Dances for Grand Final:

Judges' Choice: Viennese Waltz to My Favourite Things by Julie Andrews

Showdance: I Wanna Dance with Somebody by Whitney Houston

Couples' Favourite: The Charleston to Rock It For Me by Caravan Palace


Highest score: Week eight - Paso Doble: 39/40

What the judges said: "It was like a buffet of Spanish tapas, full of tasty morsels right the way through." - Len Goodman

Number of times in dance off: None

Susanna Reid says she is "excited and a bit overwhelmed" that she has made it to the final with partner Kevin Clifton.

"I can't believe we've managed to get right to the end."

The BBC Breakfast presenter is favourite to win the show with William Hill offering of 6-5 odds on her taking the glitter ball trophy.

"The public clearly love all four of us and our professional partners and its hard to work out specifically what it they love about each of us," Reid said.

"We get loads of message of support."

Asked about those who suggested her final place was a "fix" because she works for the BBC, Reid said: "It hasn't always gone well for us on Strictly.

"We've been in the bottom two on the leader board a number of times and we got voted off for the swingathon instantly - so anyone who thinks there's something pushing us would need to look at the evidence."

She said he had no plans to pursue a new career after Strictly was over.

"My role is on BBC Breakfast. I love that job and, apart from doing Strictly, I've got nothing else in my mind at the moment. I'm straight back to work after Christmas."

On being bookies' favourite, she said: "It's interesting and a bit weird but it's not down to the bookies, it's down to the public."

Dances for Grand Final:

Judges' Choice: The Quickstep to Tommy Steele's Good Morning

Showdance: Your Song by Ewan MacGregor

Couples' Favourite: The Paso Doble to Carmen's Los Toreadors

Strictly Come Dancing's Grand Final is on BBC One at 18:30, with the results show at 20:40, on Saturday 21 Dec

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