Former Strictly Come Dancing winner Karen Hardy talks about the show at the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool and Craig Kelly getting the chop…

Should Craig Kelly and Ricky Groves have been in the bottom two this week?

“On the dancing side of things sadly yes. I think what happened with Ricky Groves was there was a big floor and it was a new experience. He probably thought, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to get around the floor and I’ve got to get to people’, and it diluted his performance. I think the ballroom dancers came across better than the Latin dancers. With our lovely Craig, sadly he’s not able to keep up with the others. But he made it to Blackpool and the public were very gracious in helping him get there. At the end you could see that the public were saying: ‘Look we’ve got you here, now it’s down to the judges to decide.’ Once he got in front of those judges I think we all knew what was going to happen.”

So do you think Craig should have been booted off the show?

“Yes, he just wasn’t keeping up. He loved it, but sadly he just wasn’t able to keep up with all the others who are doing so well.”

Some of the judges’ comments to Craig were quite harsh, do you think they were fair?

“For me I think some of them were slightly harsh – it is still an entertainment show and it is still a lot of fun. Craig was only doing his best bless him.”

You were teaching Strictly Come Dancing fans how to dance in Blackpool this weekend. How did that go?

“Blackpool was absolutely brilliant. I don’t think the BBC thought it was going to be such a success! It was great, Rav and Bruce Forsyth came over, so fans were lucky enough to meet people off the live shows and then they all learnt a cha-cha and got to watch the show in the theatre. I hosted it, so I brought my teachers up from the studios and it really was an amazing day.”

Bruno called Chris Hollins’ foxtrot his ‘smoothest dance to date’ – do you agree?

“That was Chris’s most brilliant dance! The judges on the day have to judge what they see and aren’t supposed to judge on past performances. But the public will have a lot of expectation. He really went right the way down in his scores and he’s made a comeback with this number this week. There were no mistakes, no cringeworthy faces – he just went out there, delivered a great dance and him and Ola together looked divine. Absolutely beautiful.”

Jade Johnson and Ricky Whittle both got good reviews for their dances – what did you think of them?

“Absolutely fantastic, I’ve always been a big fan of Jade anyway and Ricky has been our frontrunner. Now what happened with Ricky is the pressure is coming in now. Although Natalie said it was her that made the mistakes, it doesn’t matter. They can’t afford to make any mistakes from now on as the judges are looking for reasons to drop points. He can’t afford to make any errors, especially now Ali has got the big four 10s from the judges! Whereas with Jade she put on a great performance, didn’t make any mistakes, but she had her head down which gave the impression that she didn’t have confidence in what she was doing. It would have been nice to see her head up because I think she would of got a slightly higher score.”

As you mentioned, Ali got 40 out of 40 and Len called it the ‘dance of the series’. Do you agree?

“Beautiful! You can’t go wrong with a Viennese Waltz at the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool! You had a beautiful dress, a beautiful lady together with Brian. She didn’t make any errors, she was beautiful, absolutely beautiful.”

Who do you think will be the next celebrity to get the boot from Strictly?

“What we needed was sadly to see Craig Kelly go and then now from here on in there will be an upset every week. I have absolutely no idea who will go next. They’re going to need a lot of luck now, the dresses will have a big impact, the choreography will be so important. They’ve got to nail the dance. We’ll be upset with whoever ends up in the dance-off and it will be down to who makes mistakes then so training will be very hard.”

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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