Former Strictly Come Dancing winner Karen Hardy gives her opinion on Ricky Groves’ departure – and Ricky Whittle’s lift!

Do you think Ricky Groves was the right person to be eliminated on Saturday night?
“I’m on the fence for the first time in the whole show and I’ll tell you why. Leila is in a much stronger position in ballroom because Anton would almost have been able to take her through the dance whereas it’s very difficult for the male celebrity to do the ballroom. It could have gone either way, she was at fault with her technical elements, he was at fault with his top line elements. I definitely think they both deserved to be in the bottom two.”

Are you sad to see him go?
“It’s a shame for Ricky, I thought he was there to stay. He had really thrown himself into it so I think he’ll be pretty upset.”

Someone else who’s quite upset is Jade Johnson, who was forced to pull out of Strictly after injuring her knee…
‘That was very sad and what was sad for me was that you could truly see she was enjoying it and didn’t want to go. She was excellent – she could have been a potential finalist. The good thing is, people know who she is now, so any Olympic event she goes for she’ll have the public behind her. She definitely made the right decision pulling out. In my own career, it’s been about representing my country and flying that flag, so there would be no question of risking further injury.’

Who shone for you on Saturday?
“It seemed like the calm before the storm. I wouldn’t say that anybody came out and left a lasting memory. Using the lift, Ricky and Natalie created a great effect but there was obvious controversy between the judges…”

That’s right. Len Goodman didn’t like the lift at all – did you agree with him?
“Len was absolutely right! An American Smooth is meant to be a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers lift – Fred would never have lifted Ginger above his shoulders! The other judges are more about performance.”

Alesha Dixon hailed Ali and Brian as the frontrunners in the competition – would you agree with that?
“No, I wouldn’t say they’re the front-runners yet but they’re not far behind. Ali just needs to show a little bit more strength and assertiveness in what she’s doing. But the thing you can see with Ali is a great journey, she’s improved every week whereas, with Ricky, he’s come out strong and just delivered great dances each week. The other one to watch out for is Natalie Cassidy… the public love her!”

What about Chris and Ola?
“With the Viennesse Waltz you just want to get it out of the way because you’re so limited with what you can do and I think it exposed flaws in the quality of Chris’s dancing. But Ola’s brilliant at choreography so they only need to come up with a few more crowd pleasers and he’ll be there till the end!”

Next week, the couples will be dancing either a Charleston or a Rock ‘n’ Roll dance, a first for Strictly…
“That’s going to be really exciting because there are going to be two new dynamics brought to the show. It’ll be really nice to see how the contestants approach these dances and it’ll also be a challenge for the professionals because Charleston and Rock ‘n’ roll are not one of their 10 disciplined dances, so it will be pushing them to their limits as well.”

Finally, are you pleased Brucie’s back?
“Oh yes, absolutely! I’m a big Bruce fan and I think he brings that old school Hollywood to the show. I thought Tess and Claudia were brilliant but it’s lovely to have good old Brucie back there!”

Karen has just launched a state-of-the-art dance studio in the heart of Chelsea. To find out more about expert tuition for all levels, visit Karen’s website

karen studios

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