As Strictly Come Dancing 2019 draws to a close, we’re exhausted just from watching the show – there’s barely been a quiet week for this year’s contestants.
From losing a celebrity to injury before the series even began to controversial early eliminations, there have been plenty of talking points from Strictly 2019.
Cast your mind back over some of the most memorable moments of scandal, controversy, and sheer bad luck.
Jamie Laing injured in the launch show
It was the injury harbinger of doom for the entire series – for the first time ever in 17 contests, a celebrity had to drop out of the show due to an accident before the series had even begun.
Made in Chelsea’s Jamie Laing was supposed to be partnering Oti Mabuse, but landed awkwardly during the group dance in the pre-recorded launch show and ended up on crutches and sporting a plastic boot.
His hopes of recovering in time for the live shows were dashed by further examinations, and sadly Jamie had to bow out without ever setting foot on the dancefloor.
What a different competition it could have been without his injury – Jamie was replaced by reserve dancer Kelvin Fletcher, who turned out to be one of the most consistently high-scoring celebrities ever and breezed through to the final without facing a single dance off.
Will Bayley crashes out with injury
Poor Jamie was far from being the only star to succumb to injury in 2019, with Halloween week proving particularly unlucky for the cast.
Paralympic table tennis player Will Bayley was fast becoming a fan favourite with his partner Janette Manrara when a jump during training damaged his knee so badly that he had to miss that week’s live show.
Will and Janette got a bye to the next week, but it wasn’t enough – his knee did not recover in time and, with his sights set on training for glory in his day job at Tokyo 2020, Will had to become the second celebrity of the series out with injury.
The pair were gutted to leave, but went out with their heads held high after some impressive routines.
Neil Jones needs a stand-in with 45 minutes to go
Halloween was also a cursed week for footballer Alex Scott and her partner Neil Jones, who suffered an amazing piece of bad luck in the final rehearsal.
During a last-minute run-through of their Ghostbusters routine, Neil injured his leg, and with just 45 minutes to go until air time, Alex was left to scrabble around for a stand-in partner.
Kevin Clifton came to the rescue, but with not enough time to learn the dance, Alex had to make a valiant effort to shout out instructions to the pro while performing the routine herself.
It all paid off as the judges were so impressed with what she’d managed, lifting Alex out of the danger zone after a few tricky weeks.
She had one more show being partnered by Kevin before Neil made a full enough recovery to get back on the dancefloor, and they made it all the way to the quarter-finals.
'They’re my own teeth, dear'
Arguably the most hilarious moment of the 2019 series came courtesy of Anton du Beke – but this time, he was the butt of the joke rather than setting up a comedy routine at his partner’s expense.
It’s been a strong year for Anton with a talented partner in EastEnders’ Emma Barton, but what their movie week Austin Powers dance will be remembered for is the critique afterwards rather than the actual routine.
🤣The teeth are real. The moment Craig Revel Horwood thought Anton Du Beke had Austin Powers pearly whites. pic.twitter.com/X35J6dHFW8— BBC Strictly ✨ (@bbcstrictly) October 5, 2019
A deadpan Craig Revel Horwood told Anton: “I was slightly distracted by the wig and the fake teeth you have in.”
But as Emma looked horrified and host Tess Daly fell about laughing, Anton replied: “They’re all my own, dear.”
For once, Craig broke his composure and cried with laughter while trying to apologise to Anton for the unintended insult.
Early exits for early favourites
There have been some especially talented dancers in the 2019 line-up, but unfortunately, that meant that some of them had to endure an early exit as they couldn’t all stay in for the final.
Notable eliminations included DJ Dev Griffin and his partner Dianne Buswell who went out a shockingly early third, leaving Dianne in such floods of tears that she couldn’t even perform their farewell dance.
Then ex-Coronation Street star Catherine Tyldesley and her partner Johannes Radebe left fifth, despite having brought head judge Shirley Ballas to tears with the beauty of their dancing in previous weeks.
Viewers were particularly outraged as contestants began to lose in the dance-off to Mike Bushell…
Mike Bushell becomes the series scapegoat
Every year, there’s a celebrity who bears the brunt of Strictly viewers’ anger that their favourites are being booted out, and this time it was the turn of Mike Bushell.
The sports reporter and his partner Katya Jones were set up as the series joke act, but were never quite bad enough to fully occupy the role, leaving many viewers a little irritated each week.
Wow the abuse! Painful. We’re beyond gutted Catherine and Johannes have left but Mike danced well and deserves his spot. As a viewer since the start I get opinion but this level of abuse is shocking. He’s just a contestant and giving his all. 😡@mikebreakfast— Emily Bushell (@emilybushell80) October 27, 2019
However, the rot really set in when Mike kept on beating people in the dance off – he spent four weeks in the bottom two, ousting David James, Catherine Tyldesley and Emma Weymouth before the judges finally voted him out.
Shirley Ballas was the target of criticism for choosing to keep him in the competition and Katya had to quit Twitter for a while because of the abuse, but it was Mike who things got really scary for.
He had to fend off a barrage of insults on social media after every vote, and at one point some irate fans of the show even appeared to issue death threats if he didn’t drop out.
Mike, his wife, and his BBC colleagues all pleaded for a little perspective and kindness, but he eventually left with dignity by leading his co-stars in a cheerful conga around the ballroom after his elimination.
Vogue isn’t everyone’s cup of tea
One of the stand-out stars of the series was Michelle Visage, who delighted viewers with her natural dance talent and chemistry with partner Giovanni Pernice.
We expected to see her waltz straight into the final, but Michelle took a risk with a Couple’s Choice routine that saw her crash out of the competition over a dance that divided opinion.
As the contest headed to Blackpool, Michelle decided it was the perfect time to pay tribute to the support that she’d enjoyed from the LGBTQ community over the years with a vogue-inspired routine.
It was perfectly executed and a moment that will forever be remembered in Strictly history, but unfortunately many viewers and some of the judges didn’t really understand the significance of voguing as a dance style and instead complained about a lack of content.
The dance may have proved Michelle’s downfall, but as she said after being voted out: “I’ve learned in this life you must take big risks in order to affect change.”
One of the high-profile critics of Michelle’s routine was former Strictly pro and vocal commentator James Jordan, who got into a Twitter spat with the RuPaul’s Drag Race star as he accused her of seeking attention, and panned the dance.
Shirley Ballas and Anton du Beke go to war
Ballroom dancing… it’s a small world, and we imagine there are no end of personal grudges and bitter rivalries behind the glitz and glamour.
The curtain was seemingly lifted on one of those awkward relationships when Anton du Beke and Shirley Ballas struggled to hide a passive-aggressive argument over a Rumba.
Line of the night from @TheAntonDuBeke— James Jordan (@The_JamesJordan) November 2, 2019
“ That’s the last time we YouTube Shirley “
Many viewers had expected Anton and Emma’s Rumba to draw glowing praise from the queen of the dance style Shirley, but she had some harsh words of criticism for the pair, telling them: “The only timing I could read was... three bars of Rumba. The rest of it, I have no idea on what count you were dancing this dance.”
Anton looked livid, and as Emma later explained to host Claudia Winkleman that she was disappointed as she had been watching videos of Shirley’s award-winning Rumbas all week, Anton had a burn to throw the judge’s way.
He told Claudia: “That’s the last time we YouTube Shirley.”
Motsi Mabuse accidentally opens a can of worms with the Joneses
As the newest Strictly judge, Motsi Mabuse could be forgiven for not understanding all the various dynamics between couples and exes on the show, although you’d think sister Oti might have filled her in on the highlights.
The 2018 series was overshadowed by comedian Seann Walsh being caught kissing partner Katya Jones, who at the time was married to fellow pro Neil Jones.
Although the Joneses shrugged it off at the time, saying they were stronger than ever, they split just before the 2019 series began.
So when Neil returned from injury to partner Alex Scott again after a couple of weeks dancing with Kevin Clifton, Motsi dropped a clanger of a comment.
Trying to compliment the couple of their first dance back together, she said: “I feel like we’re seeing a new couple that we knew, but somebody had an affair and now the light is back on.”
Neil seemed to take it in good humour, but fans were cringing at the faux pas.
Strictly Come Dancing’s Grand Final airs on Saturday, December 14 at 7.05pm on BBC One.
Never miss an episode with BT TV – catch up on the series via the BBC iPlayer app.