Strictly Come Dancing semi-final: The final five rated – Who will win and who deserves to take home the Glitterball Trophy?

Pro dancer Robin Windsor gives his verdict on the Strictly semi-finalists

Robin on Strictly 2017 – the series of shocks

I think every year Strictly keeps building and building and it gets better and better. This year has been exceptional. It’s all about getting the right cast of celebrities and whoever booked them got it spot on this year.

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Like the general public and absolutely everyone on the show, I saw Aston Merrygold as a sure-fire finalist. The problem may have been that we were expecting so much for him every single week and he had just one bad dance. Sadly, it just takes one bad dance and that’s the nature of the show sadly.

Robin Windsor

For the first few weeks, Strictly is a popularity contest. All the funny contestants stay on the show and it’s all about entertainment and its only as the series progresses that it really becomes a competition. The problem this year is that the standard is so high that it only takes one bad week, even for the very best dancers or one couple and they end up in the bottom two. We’ve seen that with Debbie, with Alex and that’s what happened to Aston.

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Robin’s verdict on Shirley Ballas

Shirley used to teach me when I was younger so I knew she would be absolutely fantastic. For anyone to come in and take over from Len Goodman, who was a Strictly institution, they needed credibility and they needed confidence. What I have loved about Shirley is that she doesn’t just give constructive criticsm. She gives real ballroom and latin terminology so that the public are really starting to learn all the little details about what we really do as dancers.

It’s good that she gives the couples the sort of criticism that allows them to go away, see what mistakes they made and come back better the next week.

Alex and Gorka

Alex and Gorka

Alexandra and Gorka started off the series with such a bang and with that Paso Doble, it was just so good and so impressive at such an early stage. I didn’t know where they were going to go after that. She was my favourite at the start and if I was on the show, she would have been the celebrity that I wanted to dance with. But then as the show ‘s gone on, there have been problems.

She did struggle with the rumba – many celebrities do. She’s a fantastic performer, but the rumba really did show her flaws and she didn’t have the same performance level we’d seen before. But I still think she’s a surefire finalist. She was my winner at the start, but I’ve changed my mind as the weeks have gone on.

Debbie and Giovanni

Debbie and Giovanni

Debbie is an inspiration. I don’t care that she’s had previous dance experience. For someone of her age, to be able to do what she’s doing is incredible.  We’ve never had a winner over 40 and I think she could take the title at the end of the series. She had a dodgy week at Blackpool with the samba, but the samba is a dance that really shows the celebrities flaws. But her comeback with the Argentine tango – and I saw that in the studio live – that was incredible.

I wish I could dance like Debbie does now to be honest. I’m 38 and I dance 8 times a week in theatre shows and as you get older you really have to look after your body. Stretching is the really important thing to do when you reach a certain age and lots of people forget that. The other thing with Debbie and her experience of ballet is that it is a totally different skill to Latin and ballroom. In fact, she has the added problem of unlearning everything she’s previously taken on board and learn how to move in a totally different way.

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Joe and Katya

Joe and Katya

For me Joe is what Strictly is all about. He had absolutely no dance experience, he started off okay and he’s got better and better and better. For me, he’s my winner. He’s just manged to improve at such an incredible rate. Katya is an exceptional professional and she choreographs mesmerising routines. If they carry on as they have been, I think they will win this year.

At the beginning of the series they were in the middle of the pack. But I always say the winner of the series should be who improves the most during the series – not necessarily the best dancer. The person who should win is the most improved. Davood was hot on the heels of Joe in that department for.

Gemma and Aljaz

Gemma and Aljaz

Gemma and Aljaz have been hovering around the middle of the table for quite a few weeks, but the one thing that’s very special about them is their chemistry and relationship as friends. If you watch It Takes Two in the week, the two of them with Zoe Ball are hilarious. I think I would be voting for them because of the fun they’re having together and how much joy they bring, not because she’s the best dancer. They are another couple who are improving. With Debbie and Alex, I don’t actually see improvement, I just see two great dancers. With the other couples I see a vast improvement every week.

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Mollie and AJ

Mollie and AJ

AJ and Mollie are such a lovely couple. She’s had a couple of very dodgy weeks that haven’t suited her at all. But the special week for them was the quickstep, which changed things for me. I was totally shocked the judges only gave her 7. For me, in the studio, that was 9 from all the judges and I was just thrilled that she got through and is still there now in the semi-final. The rumba in the quarter-final, that could have been the kiss of death, but they got through so who knows how far they could go now.

Strictly star Robin Windsor is appearing as the Genie at Bridlington Spa's pantomime throughout December.

Robin, Kristina Rihanoff and Oksana Platero are on tour with Dance To The Music from January. Click here to get tickets.

Photo Credit: BBC Pictures

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