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Ola and James Jordan's Strictly verdict: AJ's 'pathetic' scores, Rose's emotional moment and why we've already picked our winner

The Strictly Come Dancing duo share their thoughts on week nine

ola and james strictly speaking
Georgia Brown
Senior Lifestyle & Fashion Writer
14 November 2021
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There wasn't a dry eye in the Strictly Come Dancing studio after Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice's spellbinding and emotional Couple's Choice dance, in a show that set the standard higher than ever for Week Nine of the competition.

SEE: Rose Ayling-Ellis shares real reason for joining Strictly Come Dancing

This week saw the judges seriously divided over their scoring, a nail-biting wardrobe mishap from AJ Odudu and a seriously powerful set of performances from the remaining celebrity-professional duos. Here to share their thoughts on the race to the glitterball, former Strictly pros Ola and James Jordan are back with their weekly column, Strictly Speaking, to give the low down on all of this week's dances.

WATCH: Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice play Hello/Goodbye with HELLO!

James: What a great week. It was a really strong evening showcasing just how good this year has actually been. We've got eight couples left, and in my opinion, all of them did exceptionally well last night. 

Ola: There was a bit of everything in last night's show. Rhys' incredible Charleston was the shock that blew everyone away, that special moment from Rose, the mix of talent shining through in the performances… we loved it. 

SEE: Giovanni Pernice and Mosti Mabuse in tears following poignant routine

MORE: Inside the Strictly Come Dancing judges' fabulous homes

James: Last week we felt slightly let down by the standard at such a late stage in the competition, but this week proved everyone has stepped up their game as we near closer to the final. 

Ola: Finally, Rhys was given a dance that complimented his energy! We've always said that Rhys has this infectious energy that is incredibly hard to control - but thankfully, the Charleston is the perfect outlet for that. 

rhys and nancy

Rhys and Nancy earned a perfect score for their fabulous Charleston

James: It suited him so well - that dance was made for him. I think the performance from beginning to end was executed exceptionally. There was a lot of intricate choreography in there too, from the lifts, to the footwork, the swivel, the timing - in my opinion that was a truly epic performance. 

Ola: Every week we've given Rhys a hard time, but I think he really proved himself with that dance. It was for sure one of the highlights of the series, and so deserving of four 10s. 

We're usually desperate to share our favourite 'stand out' moments from the Saturday evening performances, but the stand out moment from last night that really left us in shock was AJ's scores. 

James: Seriously? AJ and Kai being at the bottom of the leaderboard was truly pathetic. There really was no reason for the judges to be that hard on her, I couldn't work it out. 

aj and kai

AJ and Kai's Pasodoble landed them at the bottom of the leaderboard

Ola: AJ's performance had all the components of a great Pasodoble on Strictly. She had the fabulous costume, the powerful music, the dramatic lighting and staging - typically things I would say could disguise a 'bad' dancer. But she didn't dance badly! I can't understand why she was at the bottom of the leaderboard.

James: For her to be top of the leaderboard one week and right at the bottom the next is very unusual. It wasn't necessarily her best dance, but certainly not the weakest of the night.

Ola: Speaking of unusual scoring, let's talk about Dan Walker. Craig gave him a four but Anton gave him a nine… how is that possible? 

James: I would love for those two to sit down with me and explain how they came to that conclusion. How one judge can give such a low score while another gives one mark off perfection makes no sense. 

dan walker

The judges were seriously divided over Dan Walker's performance

In my opinion, both of the judges on that particular occasion were wrong. Dan's dance was much better than a four, but it wasn't good enough to score a nine.

Ola: It would help if the judges shared whether their scores reflect the dancer in that moment, or whether their scores are relative to the competition as a whole. Dan did a fantastic job, but his American Smooth scoring a nine wasn't on par with Rose and Giovanni's contemporary, which also got a nine. Those dances were a million miles away when it comes to the standard of dancing. 

James: We've loved Dan week on week and he did a beautiful routine last night, but he's still the weakest dancer in the competition - his scores should really reflect that. 

Ola: For us, Sara and Aljaz really are what Strictly is about. It seems she has really fallen in love with dancing and the whole Strictly process, and as former professionals, that's what we love to see.

SEE: How Strictly's Aljaz Skorjanec and wife Janette Manrara get through 'thick and thin' - exclusive

MORE: Take a tour around Janette and Aljaz's very chic home

James: During her Argentine Tango she was in character, she nailed the choreography (which at times was quite tricky), I loved the power behind her performance and the intensity of their rapport on the ballroom was so great to watch. I'd be really surprised if we saw Sara in the bottom two this week - I believed in her performance too much. 

sara and aljaz

Sara and Aljaz performed a fiery Argentine Tango

Ola: If we're talking about the bottom two, I do think Tilly and Nikita could see themselves in the dance-off again. They got the least votes last week, and I'm not sure if their performance was enough this week to save them from the public vote. 

James: We've said before that Tilly and Nikita haven't got that same warmth when they dance together that others have - there's something missing in the partnership. The public could be picking up on that, which could see them face the dance-off tonight. 

Ola: We have to remember that Nikita is a new professional on the show, so it's likely he's learning and warming to the competition too. I remember my first year as a professional dancer, I was like a rabbit in headlights! 

James: I agree, maybe we'll see him mature as the series go on. 

tilly and nikita

Could Tilly and Nikita's pairing land them in the dance-off?

Tom Fletcher and Amy Dowden delivered a good, solid performance. He moved really well during that Viennese Waltz and I think he's got a natural rhythm in his body that I really like. 

Ola: His posture has definitely improved too, though I think when he comes in and out of hold with Amy it can look a little stiff - which is exactly what Anton told them. 

tom fletcher and amy

Tom and Amy's performance didn't quite top the leaderboard

James: It was a good performance, but I think it was a little dull - certainly not one of his best dances, but not one of his worst. The judges were quite harsh with their feedback for him which surprised me... he did a good job with a difficult dance. 

Ola: Week on week we see John and Johannes excel in every routine they're given, but last night they took on the Samba - notoriously a very difficult dance. As usual, they were brilliant. I think you can really see how gifted John is as a dancer. 

James: The only negative I can see from their performance is I felt that at times, John wasn't giving it his everything. I was watching him thinking 'he doesn't look like he's going for it!' 

Ola: I think Johannes almost out-danced John with this performance, whereas the professional should really be there to compliment the celebrity, not outshine them. 

john and joannes

John and Johannes are amongst the public's favourite duo to take the Strictly crown

James: I totally agree. I think the celebrity group performance is the space for the pros to smash it out the park when it comes to showcasing their talent, but there was a lack of balance in their dance last night. 

Sometimes we've watched this pair and it's like watching twins take to the ballroom, but last night Johannes overshadowed John slightly, in my opinion.

Ola: The dance on everybody's minds from last night has to be Rose and Giovanni's Couples Choice. It was so emotive. I'd go as far as to say it was choreographically genius.  

James: I thought it was such a special moment on the show that deserved all the praise it got -  but if it was me, I would have saved that dance for the final. I only say that because you can't recreate the impact that moment, where she danced in silence, will have on an audience again.

rose and giovanni

Rose and Giovanni's performance was "choreographically genius"

Ola: Perhaps they were worried they wouldn't make it to the final? 

James: Let's be honest, at this rate, I wouldn't be surprised if Rose and Giovanni win the competition. I believe she's going to win, and she deserves to win. Her performances have been truly exceptional, this is her moment now.

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