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James and Ola Jordan’s Strictly verdict: Ugo’s grief, Anton’s debut and their pick for the final

Discover who James and Ola predict will be this year's front runners...

ola and james strictly speaking
Georgia Brown
Senior Lifestyle & Fashion Writer
Updated: 27 September 2021
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Strictly Come Dancing made a triumphant return on Saturday night, bringing all the glitz and glamour onto our screens as we watched the 15 new celebrity-pro couples make their debut performances.

SEE: Strictly's Johannes Radebe and John Whaite receive standing ovation with first EVER all-male performance

From discussing the series' first all-male pairing to declaring who they think will waltz, tango and samba their way to the final, read on to discover who our favourite professional couple, Ola and James Jordon think will take home the glitterball in this week's Strictly Speaking column…

WATCH: Strictly Come Dancing returns for its 19th season

James: I would actually go as far as saying it's the best opening show that I've seen for years. I wouldn't say it if I didn't think it – I honestly think it's such a good lineup this year.

Ola: The standard feels so high this year, I'm already excited to tune in and watch everyone dance next week.

James: If we’re talking top three couples from last night – I'm going to have to go with AJ and Kai, John and Johannes and Nina and Neil who really blew me away. I thought AJ's jive was absolutely brilliant, and I especially thought Kai made such a massive impact coming onto the show as a new professional - I really like his dancing, he's got something really special about him.

Ola: I liked Adam and Katya too, although I think we could expect that he was going to be good. With Nina and Neil it was more of a surprise.

James: Of course you liked Adam and Katya! I wonder why you liked Adam?

Ola: Well I liked Kai more! What can I say, he definitely he brings a bit of eye candy for the ladies.

READ: Gordon Ramsay's wife Tana fights back tears as daughter Tilly performs first Strictly dance

adam peaty

Olympian Adam Peaty earned one of the highest scores of the night

James: We saw some exceptionally high scores from those couples considering it's the first week, but I'm not surprised. I don't think it can ever be 'too early' to give high scores – the dances get what they're worth.

Ola: We previously thought that either Robert Webb or Greg Wise could be the dark horse of the competition, but I think after last night our opinions have changed...

James: Both of them get top marks for giving it everything out there, but I wasn't so impressed.

MORE: Emma Thompson brings Hollywood glamour to Strictly as she cheers Greg Wise

Ola: I'd like to see both of those two take on a more serious approach. I think Robert especially went for the comedy but I didn't really 'get it'. I think maybe he's just trying to bring the comedic value to the dancefloor, but I think he has more potential than that!

James: We love Dianne too, she's one of our favourite female pros on the show. If anyone is going to get some decent dancing out of Robert it's her! I think he's good enough to take on some more difficult dances – he's certainly no Ann Widdecombe.

giovanni and rose

Rose Ayling-Ellis' incredible jive left fans in awe of Strictly's first ever deaf contestant

Ola: Speaking of dark horses, I thought Dan Walker was exceptional for week one. I really expected him to be like Bambi because he's so tall, but he came out and did such a fantastic job. I'm intrigued to see how he does in the Latin though, because ballroom is much easier – for tall people especially.

James: Let's just talk about Oti and Ugo for a minute.

Ola: Yes - I can't believe he was able to pull off THAT performance when he had to attend his dad's funeral that day.

James: For someone who's just lost their dad, I really take my hat off to him. Grief is a horrible thing and for him to be there and dance as a 'celebration' of his father's life gave me goosebumps.

Ola: I have such respect for him to be able to do that and so well too. Did you agree with their scoring though? Craig gave him a 3.

James: It definitely didn't deserve a three. Samba is a really difficult dance, but the two sambas in the show ironically were so good. I used to hate doing samba with the celebrities, but I really admire what the pros are doing with the celebrities so far.

RELATED: Strictly star Ugo Monye dedicates first dance to late dad – leaving the audience in awe

oti and ugo

Ugo Monye performed his first dance on the same day as his father's funeral

Ola: We saw some incredible work from the professionals last night. Giovanni learning sign language to help Rose Ayling-Ellis is a testament to him as a professional. It's amazing really.

James: Every year Giovanni creates brilliant choreography, I think he's a tough teacher but always excels every year. And you would have never known that Rose was deaf, her musicality was better than half the celebrities out there.

Ola: I just think it's amazing what they've achieved as a couple. It's quite wonderful to think how inclusive the BBC are making it. If our daughter was deaf I would still want her to be able to do the things that all of them do.

James: It's still really early days to determine who are the front runners, but if I had to put my money on it I would say AJ and Kai and John and Johannes.

Ola: I would totally agree, they were very good. When John danced with Johannes, if I didn't know Johannes was the professional there were points where I wouldn't have been able to tell. For me, nobody touches them.

James: You heard it here first! We’re calling it, AJ and John are definitely in the final.

johannes and john

John Whaite and Johannes Radebe received a standing ovation for their fiery Tango

Ola: And of course this week we saw Anton's debut as a judge, how lovely was it seeing him behind the panel?

James: I'm so happy for him. I've known Anton for 25 years probably, and he is such a wonderful man, he so deserves this. In my opinion, Anton helped to make Strictly what it is today, because he was there from day one.

Ola: He absolutely deserves his place on that panel, he's such a kind judge too.

James: I know I wouldn't be quite so kind, I think I'd be a little bit more brutally honest with my constructive criticism – but I think Anton finds the good in everything, which is a wonderful attribute to have. He brings a great balance to the show. 

READ: Tess Daly steals the show in red hot thigh-split dress

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