Back at the start of October I tipped Matt Baker at odds of just over 5/2 for this year’s Strictly Come Dancing contest. I reiterated that advice at the beginning of November at a price just under 7/4.
As hoped, the bet has taken us all the way to the final, where Matt is now odds-on at a current top-price of 8/11. Kara Tointon had overtaken him as favourite earlier this week, but a plunge on Matt has since seen her drift out to 7/4.
So the question is, do we keep our hopes on a second coat of Matt finish after his namesake’s X Factor success, or hedge our bets on the flourishing partnership of Kara and Artem?
With apologies to stableboyuk’s comment on Monday’s post, I’m sticking to my guns in the belief that Matt will get the most support from the voting public, which is what will decide the competition this weekend.
Of course, we have no idea how Matt or Kara have been doing in the phone poll, but my previous reasons for believing Matt is on top remain.
Briefly put they are: the SCD demographic generally favour male celebrities over female celebrities (Matt is the only male star left); Matt is a housewives’ favourite; he receives excellent promotion on other BBC programmes; and he is a good mixture of likeable and competitive.
The points against him are that Kara has been more consistently a better dancer in the last month, and Matt’s dance partner Aliona is not popular among SCD fans who consider her choreography a let-down.
However, this is a popularity contest in which the past few years has seen the better-liked celebrity overcome less technically accomplished routines and lower judges’ scores thanks to the voting public.
Matt’s competitive spirit, evident in his fervent concentration on the dancefloor each week and disappointment at last week’s judges’ comments in particular, will stand him in good stead both for his performance, and most importantly, in maintaining the sympathy of that public.
Kara and Artem look great on the dancefloor, with obvious chemistry between them. But whilst Kara seems nice enough in her VTs, she’s not as sassy or interesting as Alesha Dixon, who overcame the bias against female contestants to win in 2008.
The other contestant left in is Pamela Stephenson, who in recent weeks has been scoring highest of all. Bookmakers recognise that this matters for little in the final and have her as the 15/2 outsider.
There is the suggestion that she has been overmarked in the last few rounds to help her into the last weekend (the earlier rounds rely on a mixture of judges’ scores and public votes), whilst Matt has arguably been most harshly marked of all the final three – quite possibly because producers are aware that his strong showing in the public poll marks him as safe from elimination.
I think it’s very likely that Pamela will be eliminated first, because I think she will come last in the public vote. Whilst the 61-year-old has proved an inspiration to women of a certain age, she is not a universally popular contestant with the audience.
This leaves us with a Kara vs Matt showdown. For reasons given above and before, I’m using my loaf in thinking it’s a duel Baker will win.