- Whose physical chemistry could take them to the final?
- Karim's technique stops the show – but can you win without a really strong partnership?
- Who will win Strictly Come Dancing 2019? Predict the winner
The semi-final was bittersweet but saw the right result - and we now know next week's finalist line-up.
Here are all the talking points and social media reaction from this year's last results show…
Chris Ramsey departs as the people’s champion
Farewell then, Geordie joker Chris Ramsey. The loveable comedian has done extraordinary well to get this far on limited dancing ability but it was only right that he didn’t nab a place in the grand glitterball final at the expense of a superior hoofer.
Learning two different dances - and technically challenging ones at that - proved too much for the game 33-year-old. He and partner Karen Hauer fell well short of the pack last night, cut 13 points adrift at the bottom of the scoreboard, and this time viewer votes didn’t come to his rescue.
The dance-off, up against a routine that scored 10 points more last night, showed the gulf in class. As Chris said with typical wry humour: “Up against Karim? Shall we just call it an early night and go home?”
Still, Chris has far exceeded expectations - not least his own. As a complete beginner and not a natural mover, his 12-week stint in the contest is testament to the high performance levels and winning personality he brought to each dance - not to mention the fans we won over with his goofy facial expressions and self-deprecating wit.
His highlights were his streetdance to “Let's Get Ready to Rhumble”, his “Uptown Funk” salsa in Blackpool, his seriously menacing paso doble and last week’s Artful Dodger foxtrot.
Going from second bottom in week one with just 13 points - partner Karen’s lowest ever score - all the way to the semi-final has been canny for the lad. Chris represented regular dad-dancers and have-a-go hard grafters everywhere. His progress proved one of the most heartwarming storylines of the series. Consider yourself... a Strictly success.
Chris Ramsey lifted a series that's otherwise struggled and satisfied my penchant for cute geordies #Strictly— Sid (@StrictlySid) December 8, 2019
@IAmChrisRamsey sorry to see you leave. Loved your attitude and hard work. You were a pleasure to watch. The show wont be the same with your facial expressions. #Strictlyresults#Strictlypic.twitter.com/zBwb4LJauE— Kelly Tinsel ������ (@purplepenguin81) December 8, 2019
Guys, it’s been absolutely epic!— Chris Ramsey (@IAmChrisRamsey) December 8, 2019
I can’t thank you all enough for the support you’ve given me @bbcstrictly
Massive congrats to @EmmaBarton@kayzer_1 and @kelvin_fletcher - going to be an incredible final!
And all the thanks in the world to @karen_hauer. You’re a legend mate!
The progress @IAmChrisRamsey made on #Strictly is EXACTLY what the show should be about. Far more satisfying to watch someone learn and improve every week, rather than see contestants who could almost be pros from the start just keep being perfect.— Maïa Dunphy (@MaiaDunphy) December 8, 2019
Emma has helped Anton to his best ever finish
After 17 years and some frankly honking partners, long-serving pro Anton de Beke has officially registered his best ever Strictly performance.
Actress Emma Barton will accompany him to only his second ever final - and because it’s a three-way affair this time, that makes it Anton’s personal highest finish, because he came fourth with Katie Derham in 2015.
The combination of Anton’s devotees and Emma’s EastEnders fanbase makes them a popular pair, as evidenced by the fact that they’ve never appeared in the bottom two.
Could the King of Ballroom now complete the fairytale and go on to win the glitterball trophy? You wouldn’t put it past the wily old campaigner.
so so chuffed for these two, proud is an understatement!! @EmmaBarton you have done so well every single week you are a superstar and @TheAntonDuBeke of course you are a LEGEND. You both deserve this so much ❤️�� #Strictlypic.twitter.com/7Eh0WzOXSA— katie�� (@katieee15x) December 8, 2019
Karim clearly not popular with voting viewers
Karim Zeroual delivered two accomplished routines on Saturday to finish second on the scoreboard with an impressive 74 points out of a possible 80. However, the gifted CBBC presenter is still leaving viewers rather cold.
This was his second dance-off appearance in the past three weeks. He survived fairly comfortably, as he did against Saffron Barker, but Karim knows for certain now that he’s not converting his hoofing prowess into public votes.
Is it a lack of chemistry with pro partner Amy Dowden? Are viewers turned off by Karim’s stage school background and the fact that he was too good, too soon?
Either way, we’re left with the second highest scorer in the contest - who averages 35 points per dance and has topped the leaderboard six times in 12 weeks - being the rank glitterball outsider next week. Funny old game.
Karim has danced on the west end stage....unfair advantage Strictly!!!!!!#Strictlyresults— Elizabeth Fleming (@gorgeous444) December 8, 2019
Karen Hauer bowed out but had a ball
Elimination for Chris Ramsey also means an exit for Venezuelan firecracker Karen Hauer - now Strictly’s longest-serving female pro, in her eighth series.
She’s worked wonders with the South Shields stand-up, who was by no means a naturally gifted dancer. Karen has cleverly choreographed routines to cover his weaknesses and play to his strengths, which have been personality, characterisation and sheer entertainment value.
They’ve got on like a house on fire and laughed their way through the past 12 weeks. “This has just been a giggle fest,” she grinned in her exit speech.
This completes Karen's second most successful series - narrowly outperforming last year’s quarter-finalist partner Charles Venn but not quite as good as her run to the final with Mark Wright five years ago.
She might also console herself with the fact that she outlasted her ex-husband - fellow pro Kevin Clifton, who was partnered with Anneka Rice - by a whopping nine weeks. That might just help cushion the blow.
Chris AND Karen have both been absolute stars this year, the series would have been worse off without them #Strictly— Frankie and Clover (@strictlyblog) December 8, 2019
@IAmChrisRamsey has been the epitome of what #Strictly is all about and has brought joy to the dance floor each week. And @karen_hauer is unashamedly unique with a beautiful spirit. She has been OUTSTANDING with Chris. The partnership of the series. pic.twitter.com/eiv0zcWUd6— Jess Long (@JessCiara) December 8, 2019
It has been great to watch @IAmChrisRamsey & @karen_hauer on #Strictly this year. Our kids have loved him from day 1 he has smiled through the highs and lows— Dan Walker (@mrdanwalker) December 8, 2019
Well done sir ����������������#StrictlyResultspic.twitter.com/qaQo2LEoah
Last-minute supersub Kelvin has gone all the way
He was only parachuted into the series as a late replacement for the injured Jamie Laing and didn’t even appear in the launch show. Yet Kelvin Fletcher has gone from emergency substitute to finalist and likely winner.
Ever since his dancefloor debut 11 long weeks ago, when he surprised everyone with a sizzling samba, Kelvin has consistently wowed the judges and sent many viewers all a-flutter. He’s never scored lower than a seven and has never appeared in the bottom two.
He has also worked ferociously hard, even reluctantly missing his son Milo’s first birthday on Thursday because he was busy learning this week’s two dances.
If he lifts that trophy next Saturday, it will all be worth it. I’ll wager little Milo will forgive his daddy if he takes home a glitterball-shaped Christmas decoration. And perhaps buys him a few extra toys to say sorry.
Final line-up now complete
So we now know our three couples for next week’s grand final: Kelvin Fletcher and Oti Mabuse, Karim Zeroual and Amy Dowden, and Emma Barton and Anton du Beke. The beefcake vs the young buck vs the old stager.
Kelvin currently looks the clear favourite but could Anton spring a surprise and claim the crown at long last?
The 13th and last live show airs next Saturday at 7.05pm on BBC One. Meet you back here to rate the result and buff the glitterball. In the meantime, for almost the last time this year: keeeeeep dancing!
Anyway. I will accept Kelvin and Oti's majestic victory next week as some measure of satisfaction in a weird, weird, annoying series - otherwise this is one of the worst in recent times... #strictly#scd— Marianka Swain (@mkmswain) December 8, 2019
This year’s last Strictly Sunday as it happened
Here’s your full semi-final results show recap…
Chris and Karen’s last dance
As the eliminated pair take a final turn around the ballroom floor to 'That's What Friends Are For' by the mighty Dionne Warwick and the other three couples crowd around for consoling cuddles, please stay with us for analysis and social media reaction.
Karen returns the compliment
Chris' pro partner Ms Hauer says: “This has just been a giggle fest. You are an amazing family man who I appreciate and admire. From week one, not knowing how to walk, to now being a semi-finalist. You’ve made all of us proud and inspired us. Thank you for being awesome.”
Chris says his goodbyes
In his exit interview, Chris tells Tess: “I’m very proud of myself. I never ever thought I’d make it past week two and genuinely had no expectations whatsoever. I am astounded and I’ve got to thank Karen, she is just amazing, the best teacher and so patient, it’s crazy! I had sleepless nights in the build-up to the series and there is no-one else who can have made it what it has been. You made it bearable and then enjoyable.”
Shirley Ballas agrees
No need for head judge Twirly Shirley to use her casting vote this week but she confirms she would also have saved Karim and Amy. Well, duh.
Chris Ramsey is eliminated
So the South Shields stand-up becomes the 12th celebrity to depart the dancefloor, joining (deep breath) Alex Scott, Saffron Barker, Michelle Visage, Mike Bushell, Viscountess Emma Weymouth, injury casualty Will Bayley, Catherine Tyldesley, David James, Dev Griffin, Anneka Rice and James Cracknell on the sequin-spangled scrapheap.
Bruno Tonioli chooses to save…
Karim and Amy, saying “thank you for three months of great entertainment, Chris, but I have to choose the best dancer”.
Motsi Mabuse chooses to save…
Karim and Amy, saying “the first time I saw their dance, I thought it was brilliant but the second time, I thought it was even better”. Nice pink turban too.
Craig Revel Horwood chooses to save…
Karim and Amy, saying “I loved the storytelling n both dances but I’m going to vote on technique”.
Last judgely decision of the series
The public have their say in the final, so this is the judging panel’s last verdict. I imagine we can guess which way it will go.
Karim takes his turn
Karim Zeroual and Amy Dowden reprise their American Smooth to “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond.
The judges said last night that it had “impressive footwork and impeccable frame” but weren’t keen on the wobbly lift, awarding it a whopping 38 points.
That’s 10 more than Chris Ramsey’s rumba. Surely this is a shoo-in?
Chris goes first in dance-off
Chris Ramsey and Karen Hauer have another go at their rumba to “Don’t Watch Me Cry” by Jorja Smith.
The judges said last night that it lacked boy action and proper rumba content, with Craig Revel Horwood summing it up as “wrong dance, wrong day.”
They gave him 28 points, 10 fewer than Karim. Can Chris raise his game and close the gap?
It’s Anton Du Beke’s best ever year
The Du Beke dream is alive. Emma Barton and Anton Du Beke have reached the final for only the second time in his 17-series Strictly career.
Chris Ramsey in dreaded dance-off
That’s two weeks in a row now. After defying the odds to escape many dance-offs over the past couple of months, comedian Chris Ramsey and his professional partner Karen Hauer will face Karim and Amy in the dreaded eliminator.
Who'll face Karim in the dance-off?
Hold tight, hoofing fans, we're about to find out.
Judges' best bits
A montage of the panel's highlights from this series on-screen now. Always a treat to be reminded of Anton toothgate. That. Was. Sick.
Up to the Clauditorium now for a closer look at last night’s choreographic details - the last time this series that we’ll lament that this feature isn’t called Len’s Lens any more.
Niall Horan in the ballroom
Time for our musical guest, in the form of One Direction alumnus Niall Horan, performing 'Nice To Meet Ya'. He's got a guitar and chest hair and everything. All grownsed up.
Choreographic accompaniment comes from Katya Jones (her again) and Gorka Marquez.
They'll dance the American smooth
The couples could choose which of their two routines to perform again. Karim and Amy have optied for the higher scoring dance of their two. Canny.
Karim Zeroual in dance-off again
Well, well. Karim Zeroual and his pro partner Amy Dowden will hoof for survival for the second time, after surviving the dreaded dance-off a fortnight ago. But who against?
Kelvin Fletcher goes through to final
No surprise there but still a relief as the bookies’ favourite safely progresses to the final.
Dancing light of doom
For the last time this series, it’s the results reveal. Cue loooong… tension-building… pauses as we find out who’s safely through to next Saturday’s grand glitterball final and who, well, isn’t.
Saturday's semi-final rewound
Last night’s live show gets the highlights montage treatment. Kelvin’s killer quickstep! Emma and Anton’s weepy waltz! Karim goes Argentine and American! Chris goes Viennese and Latin! Motsi Mabuse waves her 10 paddle around a lot!
Our co-hosts arrive, so time for our penultimate fashion face-off of the series. Claudia Winkleman is sporting a simple-but-chic black jumpsuit. Tess Daly’s in a sparkly snakeskin blue dress with way too much going on. Claudia wins.
Normally I like a bit of sparkle but I've been thinking about it for half-an-hour and have concluded that Tess's frock is a fecker. #Strictly— Helen Walmsley-J (@TheVintageYear) December 8, 2019
Katya Jones is lady in red
Wonder if she's a Chris de Burgh fan too?
Carlos Acosta starts the show
We begin with a special collaboration between the Strictly pros and the Royal Ballet’s former principal guest artist, Carlos Acosta CBE.
Balletic moves from the pros, as you might expect, along with a mash-up of dance styles: flavours of paso doble, flamenco and contemporary. Dramatic storytelling as ballroom and ballet collide.
The 46-year-old Cuban father-of-three has clearly still got it. He also takes over as as artistic director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet in January.
And we’re off!
Roll those now-familiar clap-along credits - for the penultimate time this year.
One of these perky pairings will be performing their tearful last dance tonight. Any last-minute predictions?
Fabulous four will become final three
Four fingernail-chewing couples await the verdict but only three will return next Saturday for the showpiece final. Who will reluctantly depart the dancefloor?
We go over to the Elstree Studios ballroom in just five minutes…
Balletic and boy band guests
Tonight’s two star turns are One Direction alumnus Niall Horan (scream!) and A-list ballet dancer Carlos Acosta (also scream!).
Not, we hasten to add, performing together. Just 10 minutes to wait…
Can Anton’s golden year continue?
Could EastEnders actress Emma Barton help stalwart pro Anton du Beke to his best ever Strictly finish?
They opened last night’s show with a shaky cha-cha but, as befits the King of Ballroom, were much-improved in their waltz, which scored only the sixth 10 of Anton’s 17-series Strictly career.
Going through tonight would make it Tony Beak's personal best result and he might well blow a gasket.
Fifteen minutes until we find out whether he makes it…
Two veterans and two virgins (in dance-off terms)
Of our four semi-finalists, half have previously been in the bottom two - Chris Ramsey and Karim Zeroual - whereas Kelvin Fletcher and Emma Barton have never had to face the dreaded dance-off.
Will that change tonight? Just 20 minutes until we hear that familiar ba-ba-daa theme tune.
Our four semi-finalists await the verdict
Who will dance through to the grand glitterball final and who'll fall at the last hurdle? At 7.20pm on BBC One, the last elimination of Strictly 2019 looms.
During Saturday night’s live semi-final, the last four surviving couples performed two full routines apiece for the first time. Former Emmerdale actor Kelvin Fletcher topped the leaderboard after notching only the second perfect 40-point score of the series for his ritzy, glitzy quickstep, then following it up with a powerful and passionate paso doble.
Stranded at the bottom of the standings was comedian Chris Ramsey after his Viennese waltz was littered with mistakes and he struggled with the notoriously tricky rumba.
As per usual, the judges’ scores will now be combined with the public vote and the two couples with the lowest combined totals will dance for survival - but will viewers agree with the judges? If not, Emma Barton, Karim Zeroual or even Kelvin could be in dance-off danger.
We'll be liveblogging from 6.50pm, providing build-up, rolling coverage, recaps, analysis and semi-final sarcasm. Please join us - and join in too. You can email me on michael.hogan@ telegraph.co.uk, tweet me on @michaelhogan or leave comments at the bottom of this blog. I'll keep an eye on them all and report the highlights here.
Nearly time to staaaaart breaking semi-final hearts…