Strictly 2020: A Retrospective!

It’s been a rough year but Strictly still managed to find a way to shine and provide us with a glinting sequin of joy in a year that lost its sparkle within a matter of months. And what better way to honour the success they managed to make of it than a little retrospective, by which I mean a series of lists including Best Dances, Favourite Contestants and of course Best and Worst Outfits.

The Dances

The 10 Best Dances of the Series

These aren’t necessarily based on any talent or technique level but rather the dances I personally felt were fun and memorable, feel free to disagree with me.

10. Jamie and Karen: Tango

I just really enjoyed the high drama of it – bwteen the theme, the styling and the authentic tango music? It all made sense and I genuinely think Jamie put out the best tango of the series, but it was mainly Karen’s shoulder vamping.

9. Bill and Oti: Paso Doble

I liked the novelty of this because I was sure it wasn’t going to work and yet it has lived rent free in my head FOR WEEKS. I think Oti did wonders with the theme and managing it to not allow it to overwhelm the dance, although I would have put it higher had Bill fully gone and smashed the guitar at the end.

8. Maisie and Gorka: Jive

It was a toss up between Maisie’s and HRVY’s jive and in the end I decided that I remembered more of Maisie’s routine than HRVY’s, even after the second viewing. She does have the advantage of it being a very character based jive but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

7. Bill and Oti: Couple’s Choice

Bill’s technique in this was not great but the drama, the insanity and the characterisation were the perfect storm of camp greatness that makes the show so special. I mean, just look at Katya on the sidelines going BONKERS.

6. Clara and Aljaz: Charleston

The dance felt special because Clara was such a fan of the show and it was clearly a genre she wanted to do and seeing her excel at it has really lodged it in my brain.

5. Maisie and Gorka: Samba

Her second attempt in the final was SUBLIME and I feel pretty confident putting it up in the pantheon of Greatest Sambas, and she did it in WEEK ONE.

4. Bill and Oti: Quickstep

I am not endorsing the CGI, the elephant remains my greatest foe but this routine was GREAT and honestly, give Bill the part of Dr. Dolittle RIGHT NOW.

3. Ranvir and Giovanni: Argentine Tango

I’m just glad we got a proper authentic, smoking hot Argentine Tango this series because it had all the potential of going the way of the rumba. I was mostly sad Ranvir wasn’t in the final because they would definitely have re-danced this, right?

2. Maisie and Gorka: Quickstep

It was a joyous routine that felt straight out of the theatre and maybe that’s why I loved it so much, we’ve been starved of it all year and it was nice to see it done so well.

1. Maisie and Gorka: Showdance

It feels a little like cheating putting a showdance so high but it really was just THAT dance. The unhinged Theatre Kid’s desperation of save Christmas is almst certainly going to be the crown in Netflix’s 2021 Christmas film lineup.

Honourable Mentions: The insanity of Jamie’s Showdance. Lady Claramalade. HRVY’s American Smooth without the awful staging. Ranvir’s Viennese Waltz. JJ and Amy’s Viennese Waltz.

The Three Best Pro Routines

This year they really went ham on the high concepts – I don’t think we’ll ever go back to the days of the Rebel Yell Jive.

3. Bonding Time

Was there not a lot of dancing in it? Sure. Was it still a fun showcase of retro Bond costumes? Yes. Also, handsome men in tuxes and Gorka walking out of the ocean is all I need.

2. Pinball Wizard

I saw a lot of people not liking this one but I LOVED IT. Nancy and Graziano worked really well together, the lighting effects were cool. It was certainly a better use of double denim than Luba’s Haunted 80s Carnival.

1. The Curse of the M&S Necklace

I just love the batshit insanity of this one and the gimmicky pointlessness of the lazy susan because of the dizzying camerawork that rendered it useless <3 also Karen’s face at the end and Graziano’s peek-a-boo nipple will never not amuse me.


Let it be known that this is not entirely based on talent, or at all based on talent and is more on who I get the most joy from.

My Favourite Contestants: Male

3. Jason Bell (9th)

Roast me all you want, Jason was just a delightful Himbo and I wish more people had taken him to their hearts because he and Luba got shafted by that awful Star Wars paso. In his mere three weeks on the show he managed to give me more personality than HRVY, JJ and Max managed in their respective runs.

2. Bill Bailey (Winner)

I was hesitant on Bill joining the cast – I’ve not been much of a fan of comedians on the show in the past, they have a tendency to fight against the humour of the show but Bill really took it to heart very quickly. His partnership with Oti was the stuff of the divine and very rarely do we see a partnership gel as well as they did – Oti’s emotions when they won speak volumes of the relationship they had.

1. Jamie Laing (Runner Up)

Did I want him to win? Absolutely not. Am I glad he was in the final? YES, YOU SAW THAT SHOWDANCE. He was not the best dancer by any means but his enthusiasm for the show and his charisma really came through and he was always a delight on It Takes Two, which to me is as important as being entertaining on the Saturday night show.

My favourite Contestants: Female

3. Maisie Smith (RUNNER UP)

I’ve said it before, I think I found Maisie a lot more endearing than most people – I’ve known and worked with theatre kids for years, I spoke her language and understood her vibe – she was that girl at every student party who gets slightly too drunk and just wants to talk to EVERYONE. Of course she was still a – but the show needs them or else they risk a year of people who spend an entire series dancing like Jamie Laing.

2. Ranvir Singh (3rd)

I had no idea who Ranvir was, I think I even wrote her off as a 4 week wonder in my first recap AND LOOK AT ME NOW. Of course no small part of my love for her were the salacious rumours swirling about her and Giovanni, but she was also magic to watch in her ballroom performances.

1. Clara Amfo (5th)

Much like Jamie, she was obviously not the best dancer but her joy and love of the show and delight when she got through a routine was often the highlight of the show. We wont talk about That Jive though. Woof. Instead let us remember how good she looked in fringe.


3. Amy Dowden

Amy’s sugary sincerity can be somewhat divisive but I think she’s a welcome tonic to the boldness of many of the other pros and she’s a wonderful choreographer and manages to forge very strong partnerships – and her speech to JJ after their elimination was one of my favourite moments from this year’s series.

2. Karen Hauer

Karen’s whole brand at this point is madness and she slots so well into the show, the bonkersness of the showdance being the crescendo of her deliciously unhinged partnership with Jamie. I honestly don’t know what the show would feel like without her.

1. Oti Mabuse

Did anyone have a better year than Oti? Winning the show for the second time in a row, turning Bill Bailey into a fully fledged dancer? Out social media-ing the social media influencers? It’s Oti Mabuse’s world and we’re living in it.

Honourable Mention: Nadiya for her work on It Takes Two. Katya’s excitement for being the first same sex partnership.


3. Johannes Radebe

A perennial delight and undimmable flame, he and Caroline were a perfect storm of Luvviness I truly don’t believe we’ve seen the best of Johannes yet and I eagerly await his partnership with BBC Weatherman, Owain Wyn Evans next year.

2. Giovanni Pernice

Once I got over the truly awful Lockdown Hair, I could very much embrace the Giovanniness of him. I think he’s easily the best teacher on the show but truly Giovanni’s super power is to generate romance headlines with every partnership.

1. Gorka Marquez

He had such a growth between this and the last series – he really came and seems to have embraced the show for what it is, and I think Maisie was no small part in that process. From his kitsch Latin numbers to that drag routine – we are truly in the Gorka Renaissance.

Honourable Mention: Graziano for all his work on It Takes Two. Aljaz every time his caption came up during his interviews.


One of my person favourite aspects of Strictly is always the outfits, for better or worse, and I cannot miss an opportunity to list both my favourites and least favourites.

The Best Outfits of the Series

10. Jamie and Karen: Samba

I think this was generally a more successful attempt at twinning than HRVY and Janette’s American Smooth glitterbomb. The outfits also pretty much carried the entire dance.

9. Johannes: Paso Doble

Who doesn’t love a traditional Paso moment?

8. Maisie: Samba

This has to be one of the best Latin outfits that’s ever been on the show,it’s flashy and gaudy without being too distracting and the placement and volume of the feathers just hit perfectly.

6. Ranvir: Argentine Tango

Ranvir carried off the more severe looks like an absolute pro, and this Bond villain-esque figure hugging dress was her pinnacle.

7. Karen: Tango

The sheer corset? The shoulders? The way the red beads his the light? A perfect tango dress.

5. Amy: Viennese Waltz

This moved so beautifully in the Viennese Waltz and was much more interesting that our usual Waltz Fare – especially with the slashed back.

4. Dianne: American Smooth

At least Dianne got to bow out looking like an art deco dream.

3. Oti: Tango

I may not have LOVED the MetalliTango but Oti rock and roll, punk-y embellished dress was a series stand out.

2. Maisie: Showdance

All the glitz and glam you need for Christmas, I maybe wish the skirt had been make in a more expensive looking fabric but it moved beautifully nonetheless.

1. Karen: American Smooth

This midnight blue oil spill gown was just stunningly elegant and I think fairly forgotten about because it was so early on in the show and used for a fairly lacklustre dance. My one complaint is that I would ditch the gloves.

Honourable Mentions: Caroline’s American Smooth dress. Everything Motsi wore. Every time Shirley wore blue. That one good jumpsuit with giant sleeves that Tess wore. Claudia’s rose gold pantsuit.

The Worst Outfits of the Series

As there are hits, there are sure to be misses and every series there are some people that become the victims of a rushed high street panic buy, an over worked seamstress or Vicky Gill throwing the kitchen sink at them. And sometimes it’s all three.

10. Nicola: Quickstep

It’s purely the tailoring on the pants, and I get she prefers a boxier, “men’s style” trouser but it still could have been better than these vegetable sacks.

9. Jason: American Smooth

The theme was American high school, Jason Bell played American Football. WHY WAS HE NOT WEARING A LETTERMAN JACKET? He looks like Mr. Burns going to a tennis match.

8. Aljaz: Jive

There’s always someone who gets dressed via the Highstreet Sales Bins and this costume STINKS of that.

7. Oti: Argentine Tango

The placement of the ruffles was weird and stunted an already stilted performance – but there were worse examples of unnecessary boob aparphenalisa that we’ll get to.

6. Maisie and Gorka: Jive

It’s mostly just Gorka who is nigh on impossible to look at in this outfit – and it’s not very Little Shop of Horrors to me, I don’t think of colours *that* garish. I grew to kind of like Maisie’s hodge-podge dress but the poor Pomeranian they glued to her head was a step too far.

5. Karen: The Week 1 Pro Dance

I didn’t look back much at the pro dances for this list but this outfit of Karen’s has been living my mind since Week 1 and I need other people to feel the same way about it. It’s the headband and the fact she’s wearing that pair of black booties that every female pro seems to own and wear for Pasos.

4. Maisie: Cha Cha Cha

FURBY BOOBS! Their routine was already a bit of a cursed endeavour but Maisie’s outfit was so badly proportioned that it just accentuated every single one of her tiny mistakes. Hello to Gorka’s thighs.

3. Jamie and Karen: Cha Cha Cha

It’s all a little too monochrome and not even Karen is powerful enough to pull off the mesh, one armed, bedazzled romper.

2. HRVY: Couple’s Choice

It’s such a strange choice of outfit that just completely swallowed him like a sinister sofa from the 70s.

1. Dianne and Max: Couple’s Choice


And that’s it for Strictly 2020 – it’s been an odd one but I’m glad we got the show and that so many people have joined me on this recapping journey! See you in 2021 for a *hopeful* return to a more normal show, I don’t think I can handle another year of Aljaz and Janette being torn apart.

2 thoughts on “Strictly 2020: A Retrospective!

  1. Plinkiplonk

    Thank you for doing this; it’s been a delightful discovery after the grief of losing Monkseal’s blog…
    Hope you had a good Christmas, and fingers crossed for 2021.

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