Strictly Come Dancing: Halloween special – live | Strictly Come Dancing

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Stand by your creaking coffin lids, glitterball ghouls. We’re about to go over live to Elstree Studios…

Alan Carr’s Numberwang/Picture Slam just drawing to a close on BBC1. It’s enough to make you long for the good ole days of Pointless Celebrities. Or even The Hit List.

A mere five minutes to wait now…

Running time tonight is a round 100 minutes, finishing at 8.25pm – in time to flip to ITV1 for the climactic hour of the Rugby World Cup final, if you like grunting men in shorts chasing oddly shaped balls. And frankly who doesn’t?

It’s fast approaching until sequin o’clock……

Last weekend in summary

Layton Williams topped the leaderboard for the third time with his near-perfect 39-point salsa, followed by Ellie Leach’s rave paso doble. Angela Rippon’s leggy Argentine tango and Krishnan Guru-Murthy’s Hollywood quickstep also impressed.

Eddie Kadi finished bottom of the scoreboard with his Afrobeats samba and departed after dance-off defeat to Zara McDermott.

Now we’ve refreshed our memories, it’s just 10 minutes until the sparkly curtain comes up….

Bwa-ha-ha, it’s Halloween horror show bingo

Tick them off when they happen on-screen! Take a drink for each! End up at a fancy dress party with a fuzzy recollection of how you got there! Here’s your 10-point spotter’s guide for tonight:

  • The judges wield pumpkin or ghost-shaped scoring paddles

  • Shirley mentions “fundamentals” or “flying flat”

  • Halloween prop overload means it takes too long for dance to get going

  • Judging table is draped in cobwebs with skull ornaments.

  • Routine “enhanced” by ropy CGI creatures

  • Craig describes an error-strewn dance as “a horror show, darling”

  • Band leader Dave Arch is dressed as a musical vampire

  • Over-elaborate costumes and dry ice fog mean you can’t see footwork

  • Neil Jones is dressed as a ginger werewolf

  • Production team’s names are “spookified” with puns on the closing credits

On your dance cards tonight

Tonight’s 10 routines include two terrifying tangos, two chilling Charlestons and two cha cha chaaaaaarghs. Plenty of chances to compare and contrast.

Not long until that ba-ba-da theme tune…

Ten will become nine

Zara McDermott is bookies’ odds-on favourite for elimination this weekend, having already survived two dance-offs and with the lowest average score of any celebrity.

But will tonight’s totals and the public vote go according to form? Adam Thomas and Annabel Croft might just find themselves in dance-off danger too. Fifteen minutes until curtain up…

Adam Thomas still in the sparkly sickbay

Adam Thomas has been suffering with flu for over a week now and was still feeling under the weather yesterday – so much so, his partner Luba Mushtuk appeared on spin-off show It Takes Two without him.

Happily, we hear he’s rested up and well enough to dance tonight. Twenty minutes until showtime…

Amanda’s unexplained withdrawal

It’s been the talk of Strictlyland all week. Amanda Abbington missed last weekend’s shows for “medical reasons”. On Monday, it was announced that she’d decided to withdraw from the competition for personal reasons.

Despite widespread speculation, nobody knows exactly why. There’s been online trolling, concerns about her mental health and reports of clashes with her pro partner Giovanni Pernice. Inside sources said she was “fed up” after “a series of setbacks” and “feeling frazzled and fragile”.

On Tuesday, the 51-year-old Sherlock actress posted a message thanking her fellow contestants and the Strictly production team but not, many noted, her dance partner Gio.

Her exit isn’t unprecedented. There have been 10 mid-series dropouts in the previous 20 series – the likes of John Sergeant, Kelly Brook, Robert Webb and Will Young – usually due to injury or illness. It’s a shame because Amanda proved an excellent, expressive dancer – never out of the top four on the leaderboard and the third-highest average scorer this series.

It all means Gio has lost his “King of Halloween week” crown and tonight’s show has been shortened by five minutes, with the start time bumped back from 6.40pm to 6.45pm. Chances are this series will now climax with a three-way final, rather than a four-way one, as has been the case in previous years when the show found itself a contestant short. In the meantime, we wish Amanda well.

It’s Spooky Come Dancing

Twinkle-toed trick or choreographic treat? Good evening and welcome to week six of Strictly Come Dancing 2023. I’m Michael, your paranormal dance partner for tonight’s annual spooktacular. I’d love you to watch along with me as our pro-celebrity pairs perform Halloween-themed routines. It promises to be a scream.

Last weekend, comedian Eddie Kadi shook his hips all the way home. This was followed by the surprise withdrawal of Amanda Abbington from the contest. More on that later. Now our 10 surviving pro-celebrity pairs take to the Elstree Studios dancefloor once more, bidding to make it to the contest’s midway mark next weekend.

Tonight’s scores will be combined with viewer votes and the bottom two pairings will dance for survival on Sunday night. Who’ll be a fright night victim and fall short of the halfway point?

It’s showtime at 6.45pm on BBC One (five minutes later than advertised due to the shrinking field). I’ll be liveblogging from 6.15pm, providing build-up, rolling coverage, analysis, reaction and pumpkin-spiced asides. So stock up on magic potion and supernatural snacks, and I’ll see you on the cobweb-draped sofa.

As ever, I’d love to hear from you too. You can tweet me @michaelhogan, email me or chat away in the comments section. I’ll zombie-shuffle down there from time-to-time to report on your opinions.

You can almost hear Tess and Claud practising their Halloween puns. Nearly time to staaaaaart spooky dancing!

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