From leggy wonder to gangly learner – who makes the grade in Strictly’s midterm report?
With Johannes Radebe, Whaite represents our very first all-male couple on Strictly, and this ever-strong duo is a pleasure to watch. It’s often hard to tell which one is the pro – they’re so tuned in that they seem like they’ve been playing together for years.
Whaite might be a former Bake Off winner, so used to the pressures of TV competition, but he’s still pissed off. This makes him all the more impressive that his routines usually hide the work out for us to enjoy. The best example is his paso doble Pirates of the Caribbean, who rightly scored three 10s: it was dramatic, thrilling, and showed the advantage of a powerful all-male couple helping each other.
They picked up two more 10s for their tasty treat of a Charleston, which featured Radebe’s more creative flair (wand-spelling!) And extraordinary timing. Whaite not only has excellent timing, he matches Radebe’s exact physical placement and performance details. Now he must find this same pending cohesion. Their lead exchange is impressive and a fun new element, but Whaite needs to maintain his frame and differentiate these leader and follower positions – the latter is too square for Radebe.
We also saw them doing a lot of side-by-side work in Latin, rather than dancing together. Are they worried about the reaction of viewers? But they can’t escape this intimacy in this weekend’s rumba. If they fully engage in it, even Revel Horwood will surely lift his dusty 10 paddle.
Best dance: Paso doble (39)
Worst dance: American smooth (29)
Verdict: A – we’ll see that in the final.