The market gives Harry Judd a 73.53% chance of claiming Strictly Come Dancing's Glitter Ball Trophy, but he was outclassed by both his of final opponents, Chelsee Healey and Jason Donovan last week. And more disappointment awaits, says the Betfair Contrarian
There's little separating the finalists
In a Strictly first, the name at the top of the leaderboard has changed in each of the nine weeks leading up to the final. Harry has posted the highest score just twice in total - compared to four times apiece for Chelsee and Jason - and he is the only one of the trio yet to get a ten from stingiest judge Craig Revel Horwood. Therefore, the McFly drummer doesn't have a big enough advantage on the dance floor to justify odds of 1.36, so they must reflect an assumption that he is more popular. However, like Harry, Chelsee hasn't been in the bottom two throughout, while Jason only came close to exiting once.
Harry's partner may be penalised
Reality TV fans love a conspiracy theory and one surrounding last year's series was that Aliona Vilani and celebrity partner Matt Baker were marked down due to her poor relationship with the judges. Fuel was added to that fire earlier in this series when head judge Len Goodman called her out on comments made on supplementary show It Takes Two, implying that she didn't take much notice of their feedback. Things haven't been as frosty since that showdown, but awkwardness lingers when they interact and Aliona's choreography never attracts the praise afforded to the other professionals in the final.
The judges' scores don't affect the vote this week, though they can still swing things by duping viewers into believing that a couple don't deserve to win, as arguably happened when Aliona and Matt scored lowest last year.
In five of the first eight series, the voters followed the judges' lead when separating the final two.
Chelsee has the BBC Factor
Another intriguing Strictly trend is that the last three editions were won by celebrities best known for featuring on other BBC shows: Tom Chambers (Holby City), Chris Hollins (BBC Breakfast) and Kara Tointon (Eastenders). Of 2011's remaining stars, Chelsee 4.0 is the one who benefits from that trend courtesy of her role as Janeece Bryant in Waterloo Road, a part she has played since 2006. In contrast, Jason's main audience these days is provided by his Heart radio show and Harry is reliant on McFly fans, who admittedly did the business for Dougie Poynter on I'm a Celebrity. That tendency for viewers to support those most familiar to them still exists and helps explain why Alex Jones (One Show) and Robbie Savage (MOTD2) were protected by the public at times when outperformed by former BBC soap stars Anita Dobson and Holly Valance, who don't get much TV exposure these days.
And there is much to like about Chelsee
Chelsee's first appearance on Strictly prompted abuse on Twitter, her choice of outfit and "single and ready to mingle" comment not creating the best first impression. However, in what is a reality TV rarity, her bubbly nature, slight glimpses of insecurity and, most importantly, hugely impressive dance floor displays appear to have forced her critics into a complete 180. The producers have also aided her cause with a somewhat laboured attempt to portray a ladette-to-lady transformation, which though perhaps inaccurate provides an element of "journey" that already-good Jason sorely lacks. She is the only finalist to have scored 35 or more in her last seven performances, delivering consistently in both ballroom and Latin routines, and like Kara last year has the benefit of a partner new to the series in Pasha Kovalev. He's popular, being voted favourite professional on Digital Spy's Strictly Forum, and deservedly so. After all, he dressed as Shrek on Movie Night - what's not to love?
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