This Saturday will see the final five contestants of Strictly Come Dancing battle it out for a place in the Final. With no one wanting to end up in the dreaded dance off, it can be certain that every couple is giving it their all this week to be in with a chance of winning that glitter ball trophy. But with everyone discussing the the Final, it has been clear to me since the beginning who the winner is, and that is actress Kellie Bright.
Kellie Bright is perhaps best known for playing feisty pub landlady Linda Carter on BBC soap opera EastEnders, however Bright has been acting since she was a child. Most notably, Bright had a starring role in The Upper Hand which ran for six years in the early 90's. Since then, Bright has starred in several television series' including Bad Girls, The House That Jack Built and Rock and Chips. She landed the role of Linda Carter on EastEnders back in 2013 and has went on to win several Best Actress awards for her work. It is worth mentioning that Bright continues to work on EastEnders while competing on Strictly Come Dancing, working long days on set and then rehearsing the exhausting routines in the evening (not to mention being a mum). One would argue that this puts Bright at a disadvantage. Unlikely, considering the brilliant routines that she performs alongside her dance pro partner Kevin Clifton every Saturday night. The competition is so tough and all of the remaining contestants deserve their place. They constantly deliver great routines every Saturday but after each show, I often find myself remembering Bright's performances the most.
Bright has been a favorite since the beginning of the competition. Of course many viewers would recognise her from EastEnders, but perhaps the moment when Bright became a real contender was when her and Clifton danced the Charleston. Dressed up as characters from the Star Wars franchise, complete with lightsabres, Bright was commended for her ability to remain in sync with Clifton, with judge Darcey Bussell commenting how Bright "should not be that good in week three". Bright was placed near the top of the leaderboard and remained there for several weeks.
Following this success, Bright and Clifton danced the Jive in the fifth week of the competition. It was a brave task to undertake the Jive so close to fellow contestant Jay McGuinness' performance (which is widely regarded as the performance of the series) however Bright held her own. It was a risk move that paid off. Bright and Clifton's Jive was praised for the complexity and velocity of the routine and, as with the Charleston, Bright mirrored Clifton seamlessly. Head judge Len Goodman even remarked that he would love to see it again. This turned out to be Bright's week, as she finally topped the leaderboard.
It was in the seventh week when Bright shockingly ended up in the dance off, despite the fact that she had delivered an incredible Waltz. In the dance-off, Bright performed her Waltz even better than the first time and luckily, the judges unanimously saved her. Bright and Clifton continued to thrive and despite dividing the judging panel, their ''nineties" Samba to Boom Boom Shake The Room ultimately received high scores, with Craig Revel Horwood stating that he "love[d] it". It was Strictly's annual Blackpool show that put Bright and Clifton closer to the top of the leaderboard, when they danced the Quickstep (see below). It was here that Bright received her first "10" from the judge Bruno Tonioli. The following week saw Bright shockingly end up in the dance off again after delivering a fun, high energy Salsa with risky lifts. However, it was more than likely the result of the Quickstepathon that landed Bright in the dance off this week. The judges, again, unanimously saved Bright and Clifton. In the Quarter-Final, which was aptly titled musicals week, Bright and Clifton came back fighting, delivering an unforgettably dramatic Viennese Waltz to Oom Pah Pah from Oliver!. Revel Horwood stated that it was "common as" but he "loved it". The judges unanimously praised Bright's acting ability for this dance and scored her with "9", placing them second highest on the leaderboard. Bright sailed through to the Semi-Final.
So, if you're asking me why I am writing this article if Bright is clearly going to win, the answer is because nothing is certain. I cannot put into words how shocked I am that Bright has been in the dance-off twice, as she is easily one of the best dancers in the competition, not to mention the most consistent. Here we are, about to head into the twelfth - the semi final - and Bright has never delivered one mediocre performance. Of course, some have been better than others, but there have been no near disasters. Goodman has said that Bright is "a great, all-round dancer" and Revel Horwood has said that she is "a wonderful, wonderful dancer". Her repertoire ranges from an incredible Jive to the Quickstep, from the Charleston to the Waltz, and the Foxtrot to a very unusual but spellbinding Viennesse Waltz.
Now of course I'm not going to say that Bright deserves to win on that alone, there is of course the question of her ability. Is Bright worthy of winning the glitter ball trophy? Does she have the ability? YES. There is no question that Bright is one of the best dancers left and her footwork exceeds that of any of the remaining contestants (see her reverse heel turns at the beginning of her Waltz, above). When Bright and Clifton dance, there are moments when it is difficult to tell who the professional dancer is. As Revel Horwood put it, Bright is a "wonderful, wonderful dancer".
The Final of Strictly Come Dancing is in sight and with only four places available, one of the remaining five celebrities will have to say goodbye this weekend. I hope it's not Kellie Bright, as just like her EastEnders character, Bright is truly a joy to watch and an exceptional dancer.
If you want to see Kellie Bright in the Final of Strictly Come Dancing, be sure to vote for her as many times as you can on Saturday night!
Telephone: 09015 22 52 01
Mobile: 6 22 52 01
Or vote three times online for free at: bbc.co.uk/strictly