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Is it semi-final time already?! Just five couples remain on Strictly Come Dancing

It’s the sparkly semi-final, and even though they insist they take the competition one week at a time, our five remaining couples must have entertained the thought of winning by now.

We bet they’ve even been thinking about where to display the glitterball trophy!

So they’ll be dancing their sequinned socks off tonight in a bid to secure their spot in next week’s Final.

Each couple must perform two routines, a Latin and a ballroom number, and with so much tricky choreography to learn there will have been less time to fine-tune the footwork.

One thing’s for sure, the judges will be more pernickety than ever, so it’s anyone’s guess who will fall at the final hurdle.

As the semi-final beckons, Pasha and Giovanni reveal their plans for
glitterball glory…

Strictly Come Dancing - pasha

Pro dancer: Pasha Kovalev

Pasha Kovalev, 38 Eighth year on Strictly, runner-up in 2011 and 2012, and champion with Caroline Flack in 2014.

What’s the best thing about working with Ashley?
It makes a big difference, when you’re working with someone, if you like them on a personal level. We joke around and never fight, so it’s really good.

What’s been your favourite dance so far this series?
If the routine comes out better than it did in rehearsals, that’s the best feeling. The Dirty Dancing lift in Movie Week worked every time in training but, in a dress rehearsal, Ashley’s dress was so slippery, I couldn’t retain my grip on her hips. We had to modify her dress so that there was something to hold onto. We were hoping it would work when we performed it live and luckily it did!

It’s almost Christmas, what gift would you buy for Ashley?
I’d buy Ashley something nice, soft and comfortable to wear, maybe a cuddly jumper because it’s getting cold now. Ashley’s from sunny Arizona in America, so we have to keep her warm!

Strictly Come Dancing - Giovanni

Pro dancer: Giovanni Pernice

Giovanni Pernice, 28 Fourth year on Strictly, runner-up in 2015 and 2017

Did you know much about Faye before the series?
I only knew two Steps songs: 5, 6, 7, 8 and Tragedy. Those are the two we had in Italy. I’m a huge fan now though, I ask Faye to sing for me. I like to pretend I’m a great singer, too, but it doesn’t really suit me, unfortunately…

Have you started to think about the routines you might do in the final?
No, you can’t think ahead! You have to think week by week because the competition is so hard this year, everybody’s brilliant and each dance is a different story, so you never know what’s going to happen.

But you have a tattoo that says ‘born to win’ – you must want to lift the Glitterball!
I would love to win the show, especially as I’ve already been a runner-up twice before with Georgia [May Foote] and Debbie [McGee]. It’s about delivering good performances every week; winning is a bonus.

Which dance has been your favourite this year?
Our couple’s choice dance, the musical theatre routine, was great in Halloween week. I’ve loved lots of them, the tango, the quickstep, the paso doble… Every week has been amazing!

TV Times rating: *****