We had speculated that Sami, Sophie, Marcus or Craig would perform first in the Strictly danger zone based on which one producers felt was the most vulnerable and expendable. In the event, as punters hovered over the elimination market, it was Marcus whose name was announced, and his odds immediately dropped for the chop.
Nonetheless, those who have invested in Marcus were to be encouraged by the fact that Sami Brookes endured another poor draw, and by the way judges appeared to put the knife into Frankie Cocozza rather than encourage a sympathy bounce. So poor was the reception for the south coast lad that he leapfrogged the Welsh lass in the elimination market.
That looked unlikely when Sami started ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ disastrously. She missed her cue and her timing was out for the whole of the first verse. However, none of the judges wanted to draw attention to this fact, because there was what felt like a scripted argument between Gary Barlow and Louis Walsh, with the former dismissing Sami’s talent very strongly.
The market was right to see Sami’s elimination odds shorten during her performance and then lengthen when Gary laid into her. Overly harsh criticism from the alpha male judge can create a backlash. It helped Paije last year when Simon explained, “you have zero chance of winning”, by breeding sympathy and motivating support. So why help Sami out in this way?
I was mystified until I watched Frankie’s coverage: he wasn’t in the pimp slot; they played up his bad boy image in the most unflattering way during the VT, showing him give the camera the bird, for example; they provided him with a rock star entrance through backstage corridors which made him look big-headed; and all of this was reinforced by the judges’ comments. If they wanted to save Frankie, as I had assumed before the show, this was a very strange way to go about it.
(But if he felt like he’d been displayed in an unflattering light, it was nothing compared to the drubbing Misha B got at the hands of the judges, with what felt like an unprecedented character assassination claiming she had been mean to other contestants. This is clearly a story that the show wants to see in the tabloids. More on this during the week.)
So how does this all add up? Our theory is that producers would prefer to save another act apart from Sami in a sing-off against Frankie, because they would rather see someone else bounce the following week. After the graveyard slot, Marcus would be one of those potential sing-off rivals. I would add Rhythmix and Sophie to the list.
Rhythmix were not greatly drawn in 4, and also had the drawback of judges focusing on Tulisa’s definition of ‘rock’ more than the girls themselves. This is a classic way of deflecting attention from the performance thus dampening their vote. Sophie was next up, and unfortunately botched the final chorus, which we were reminded of in the reprise.
Kitty and Johnny were two potential elimination candidates according to bookmakers’ lists before the show, but not afterwards. Both were given big productions and kind draws, Johnny in particular. In fact, there was something Wagner-esque about Johnny’s performance and pimping this week (perhaps it was the shaky way he held the microphone). Bookmakers reckon these two and the other acts are safe.
What do you make of our theory – and will it work with the voting public? Do give your opinion on tonight’s events and how it’s changed your approach to this week’s elimination market below.