Skip to main content

How to win Strictly Come Dancing

How to win Strictly Come Dancing

We’ve pored over 17 series of BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing ahead of its return to Saturday nights to find out how to spot a future champion

By Simon Ward, Content Editor

A world without Strictly Come Dancing seems inconceivable – but that was very much the world we were facing earlier in the year. With lockdown restrictions in full force, making a show as enormous as Strictly, with hundreds of people involved in each production, seemed impossible.


But it’s back, albeit with some New Normal changes. A smaller line-up and number of episodes are minor. But there are also some major alterations, including no Blackpool or Halloween Weeks, Bruno Tonioli only appearing in the results show and an automatic elimination for any couples who test positive for Covid.

The line-up is a belter, though, including Radio 1’s Clara Amfo, ex-politician Jacqui Smith, singer Max George, actor Caroline Quentin, comedian Bill Bailey and TV presenter JJ Chalmers. Jamie Laing also returns after leaving last year’s contest before it even began (his replacement Kelvin Fletcher did rather alright…).


Olympic boxer Nicola Adams will also be the first Strictly celeb to dance in a same-sex partnership, in a huge step forwards for the show. Singer HRVY, ex-NFL player Jason Bell, EastEnders actress Maisie Smith and Good Morning Britain’s Ranvir Singh complete the all-star Strictly class of 2020.


But who has it in them to lift the coveted glitterball? While some people spent lockdown kneading bread, we spent it crunching numbers to look into the stats of every Strictly winner since the show began in 2004. Here are the conclusions we have drawn on how you can spot your winner…


The average Strictly winner is a male TV presenter

The numbers have spoken, with ten male celebrities winning the coveted glitterball since the show began, versus only seven female celebs. The top profession for a Strictly winner is TV presenter with six wins (although only Chris Hollins and Ore Oduba make up the men in that list), followed by actors with five. Interestingly, only one sport outside of gymnastics has bred a Strictly winner so far – it’s cricket. In fact, it has given us two in Mark Ramprakash (series 4) and Darren Gough (series 3).


Only two Strictly winners have topped the leaderboard after their first dance

Statistically, only two winning couples have topped the leaderboard in their first dances; Abbey Clancy and Aljaž Skorjanec in series 11, and last year’s winner Kelvin Fletcher and Oti Mabuse. Series 4 winners Mark Ramprakash and Karen Hardy technically topped the leaderboard in their Week 1 with 27 points, but that was because the celebs were split over two weeks, with Emma Bunton and Darren Bennett’s score of 33 for the first dance comfortably beating them. Remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint.


The average Strictly winner scores 27 points for their first dance

If you want to win Strictly, it appears to be statistically true that the British public wants to see the celebs going on a journey, rather than coming out all guns blazing. Looking at all 17 winners, the average points total for a future winner is 27.5 points in Week 1, with seven eventual winners getting exactly 27 points in that first dance. The highest Week 1 points total was achieved by Zoe Ball and Ian Waite in series 3 with 35 points, but they only finished third overall.


Future Strictly winners start making their move to the top of the leaderboard in Week 2

However, flying in the face of the perennial Strictly “is all about the journey” chat, four previous winners were topping their leaderboards by the second week of the contest, while a further three celebs were at the summit by week 3. Week 4 also had four eventual winners reaching the top for their first time, so watch weeks 2 to 4 very carefully. Intriguingly, series 3 winners Darren Gough and Lilia Kopylova and series 7 victors Chris Hollins and Ola Jordan NEVER topped their leaderboard – so there’s hope for anyone.


The highest scoring “Couple’s Choice” dance is Street/Commericial

Since being introduced in series 16, the “Couple’s Choice” dance has been a hugely popular showpiece routine, and crunching the numbers shows choosing the Street/Commercial dance is the way to go, with an average of 35.13 points per dance. It’s also the most popular dance (8), compared to Contemporary (5) and Theatre/Jazz (3). Street also scored three couples their highest scores in series 17 for Chris Ramsey and Karen Hauer, Alex Scott and Kevin Cliffton (standing in for Neil Jones) and Dev Griffin and Dianne Buswell. However, Theatre/Jazz is the only “Couple’s Choice” dance to bag a perfect score (Faye and Giovanni in series 16).


Most Strictly winners score their lowest score for the Cha-Cha-Cha

You’d expect the Rumba to be the dance that trips up future series winners (and no couple has ever achieved a perfect score for the Rumba!) – but it’s the Cha-Cha-Cha that’s the dancing thorn in their sides. Marking the winners of all 17 series, a whopping eight all scored their lowest marks for this Cuban dance. Although, interestingly, series 12 winners Caroline Flack and Pasha Kovalev received both their lowest AND highest marks for their Cha-Cha-Cha, after repeating it in the Final. So should your favourite fall out of synchronisation, don’t worry – it has happened to the best of them (and Quentin Wilson)!


The Charleston has earned Strictly stars more perfect scores than any other dance

A dance that often divides the audience for being a little bit silly and has Craig Revel Horwood shouting out the words “no swivel, dahhhhling” within seconds of the routine finishing. However, it is by far the dance that delivers 40s more than any other (9 in total) – with three winners also benefitting, including Chris Hollins and Ola Jordan (series 7), Caroline Flack and Pasha Kovalev (series 12), and Joe McFadden and Katya Jones (series 15). Bring on the swivel!


Incredibly, most Strictly winners only receieve a perfect score once during the whole competition

Possibly the most surprising revelation in our statistical search is that most winners of Strictly Come Dancing will take home the glitterball having only achieved a perfect 40 once. Five champions received top marks on a single occasion, while a further four champs received only two 40s each. Caroline Flack (series 12) was the most decorated ever winner with four perfect scores, while Ashley Roberts’ five 40s only got her the runner-up spot in series 16.


The average weekly score for a Strictly winner is 34 points

While Strictly winners tend to start in the high 20s, they very quickly get into the groove. Taking the scores for all winners over their Strictly journey and turning it into a four-judge average, each winner received a weekly average of 34.28 points. Alesha Dixon and Matthew Cutler in series 5 had the highest average total for any winner in the competition’s history with 36.50 points but, even then, there are four runners-up ahead of her – Ashley Roberts (series 16) with 36.94 points, Natalie Gumede (series 11) with 36.87 points, Danny Mac (series 14) with 36.63 points and Faye Tozer (series 16) with 36.50 points.


With Bruno Tonioli taking a reduced role in this series, Motsi Mabuse is the most generous judge

With Bruno Tonioli taking a limited role in the latest series, Motsi Mabuse – who joined the show in series 17 – is the show’s most generous current judge, with an average paddle points total of 7.55. Interesting, over the past three series, Craig Revel Horwood has progressively dished out more points on average for a dance – 6.39 (series 15), 6.62 (series 16) and 6.66 (series 17). Although, a word of warning: with an average points total of just 5 for a celebrity’s first dance, it might be a rough introduction to Mr Fab-u-lous.


When does Strictly Come Dancing start?

The Strictly Come Dancing launch show begins on BBC One HD (CH 101/108) on Saturday 17th October at 7.50pm. It is also available for 30 days in Catch Up > Channels > BBC iPlayer.


The first live show will begin on Saturday 24th October, and will run until Christmas. A Christmas special is expected to air on Christmas Day.

You might also like

TV channels: Channels, content and features available depend on your chosen package. Channel line-ups and content are subject to change at any time and to regional variations.

HD: HD TV set, V HD Box, TiVo box or Virgin TV V6 connected with HDMI cables required for HD channels. Number of inclusive HD channels depends on package.

Catch Up TV: Catch Up TV content available for up to 7 days or up to 30 days after broadcast, depending on content.

Image credits: Strictly Come Dancing © BBC / Steve Scofield