Strictly Come Dancing semi-finals…and Ore Oduba roars to the top of the leader board

Claudia Fragapane, Louise Redknapp, Danny Mac and Ore Oduba danced for a place in the Strictly Come Dancing final

And then there were four celebrities, just a couple of dances away from the final of Strictly Come Dancing… As the contest reached its semi-final, only Louise Redknapp, Claudia Fragapane, Danny Mac and Ore Oduba were left standing.

And by the end of the show, after they had danced two routines each, Ore was standing taller than the others – just – having scored a combined total of 77/80 points from the two dances.

strictly come dancing

The Strictly semi-finals is a close contest

Sports presenter Ore roared on to the dance floor for his first dance with Joanne Clifton, a quickstep to ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl?’ by Jet, desperate to impress not just the judges but also his parents, who had flown in from Nigeria to see him dance.

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Ore and Joanne’s quickstep was a “triumph” said Len

Len Goodman, Darcey Bussell and Bruno Tonioli scored the dance a 10 each, but Craig Revel Horwood scored only an 8 – and was booed for it.

“That quickstep was a triumph!” Len declared and stood to applaud Ore and Joanne.

Head judge Len got to his feet to applaud Ore's quickstep

Head judge Len got to his feet to applaud Ore’s quickstep, but Craig was less impressed

“You came alive!” Darcey declared. “And your footwork was terrific. Well done.”

“It was rock ‘n’ roll sexy but perfectly identifiable as a quickstep,” added Bruno.

“I think your posture suffered slightly,” Craig told Ore.

“You’re making it up!” Len shouted at him

“One bit of the dance also wasn’t in sync,” Craig continued.

But no one agreed with him…or his score.

Ore and Joanne’s second dance was the Argentine Tango to Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” and Craig was a lot happier with it.

ore oduba

Ore’s Argentine tango with Joanne was “mesmerising” said Bruno

“That was better,” he told Ore. “But you did lose balance on a lunge. Such a shame. You should be proud of yourself, though.”

“What amazes me is that you had no dance experience before this competition and you’ve come out danced with so much precision. That was a terrific performance.”

“Fast and furious,” is how Darcey described Ore’s Argentine Tango.

And the performance nearly killed Bruno… “I could hardly breathe because of the intensity of the dance. It was outstanding.”

Hot on Ore’s heels, with a combined score of 76, was actor Danny Mac, who danced a salsa and an American Smooth with partner Oti Mabuse.

“That was a satisfying and tasty salsa,” Len told Danny. “You are a fantastic dancer.”

danny mac

Craig thought the lifts in Danny and Oti’s salsa were “a-maz-ing”

Darcey felt Danny could have done better with his salsa, danced to “Vivir Mi Vida” by Marc Anthony. “I would have loved a bit more wildness from you,” she told him.

Craig described the lifts in Danny’s salsa as “a-maz-ing” but preferred his American smooth… “It was right up my street. I loved it!” he declared.

And Bruno loved both dances.

Danny Mac

Bruno was “swept away by the emotion” in Danny and Oti’s American Smooth

“I love the flamboyance, the flair, the fluid turns,” he told Danny of his salsa.

“And I was totally swept away by the motion and emotion of your American smooth [danced to “Misty Blue” by Dorothy Moore]. It was exquisite.”

Singer/presenter Louise and Olympic gymnast Claudia were joint third on the leaderboard, with 73/80 each for both of their dances.

Louise and partner Kevin Clifton started with a tango to Dave Clark Five’s “Glad All Over” that “had so much snap, crackle and pop,” Len told her. “But there was a little moment.”

louise redknapp

“The attack was stunning,” said Darcey of Louise and Kevin’s tango

It was a slight, momentary loss of balance that Craig and Darcey commented on, too.

Bruno, though, was “surprised and thrilled” by her tango and he loved the couple’s “tutti-frutti” samba, danced to “Brazil” by Thiago Thomé.

“It was full of rhythm,” Len added.

louise redknapp

Bruno loved Louise and Kevin’s “tutti-frutti” samba

“A classic samba,” said Darcey.

But Craig thought it lacked “upper-body energy”, although he did say it was “a vivacious performance”.

Claudia’s two dances with her partner, AJ Pritchard, were the rumba, danced to “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis and a quickstep to Andy Williams’ “When You’re Smiling”.

claudia fragapane

Claudia and AJ’s rumba had some “wonderful moments” said Darcey

“It was a quality rumba but there was a lot of cocking your leg up,” Len said. “I would have liked a tad more hip action.”

And their quickstep? “You’ve gone from gymnastic to fantastic,” said Len. “I know the height difference makes it hard for you two but you’ve worked to overcome it.”

Darcey, Bruno and Craig all agreed that Claudia’s quickstep lacked chemistry.

Craig didn’t like Claudia’s rumba, saying it “lacked chemistry”.

But they joined in with Len and sang her praises for her quickstep.

“It was light, energetic…You were carving up the dance floor,” said Darcey.

claudia fragapane

Bruno thought Claudia and AJ’s quickstep was “extraordinary”

“This dance suits you down to a T,” added Bruno. “Your footwork was extraordinary.”

“It got me smiling,” Craig told Claudia. “I loved it. You kept character and danced like you were dancing for your life.”

Or for a place in the Strictly Come Dancing final…

Find out who makes it to the last round of the contest in the Strictly Come Dancing results show on BBC1, Sunday, December 11, 7.20pm

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