Sinead Morrissey wins Forward Prize for poetry

Sinead MorrisseyImage copyrightSinead Morrissey
Image caption Sinead Morrissey takes home the Forward Prize for best collection of poetry for ‘On Balance’

The Northern Ireland poet Sinead Morrissey has won the £10,000 Forward Prize for best collection of poetry.

She was awarded the prize at a ceremony in London’s Royal Festival Hall for her sixth collection On Balance.

The Forward Prize is one of the most prestigious prizes in poetry, and previous winners include Ted Hughes, Carol Ann Duffy and Seamus Heaney.

The journalist and broadcaster Andrew Marr chaired the 2017 judging panel.

‘Beautifully written’

He said the poems in On Balance were full of energy.

“This is writing that successfully comes right up to the edge, again and again.

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Media captionWatch Sinéad Morrissey recites The Millihelen on BBC NI’s The Arts Show

“We were taken by the openness, the capacity and the exuberance of this work.

“On Balance is a collection that readers will keep, and go back to for a long time to come.”

Image copyrightadrian pope
Image caption The Forward Prize is one of the most prestigious prizes in poetry

The collection includes poems about engineering feats like the building of the Titanic, Lillian Bland’s aeroplane and Marconi’s radio.

Born in County Armagh, Morrissey was appointed Belfast’s first poet laureate in 2013.

She was formerly Professor of Creative Writing at Queen’s University in Belfast.

However, earlier this year she left the city to take up a post as Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University.

Ms Morrissey is one of Britain’s leading poets and won the TS Eliot prize in 2014 for a previous collection, Parallax.

The Belfast-based poet Michael Longley was also on the 2017 Forward Prize shortlist for best collection for Angel Hill.

Image copyrightForward Prizes for Poetry/Adrian Pope
Image caption Ocean Vuong and Ian Patterson won best first collection and best poem respectively

Two other prizes were also awarded – the Felix Dennis Prize for best first collection (£5,000) went to Ocean Vuong, for Night Sky with Exit Wounds.

Vuong was praised by Marr as “a truly remarkable new voice”.

“This exciting poet navigates different terrains, from personal traumas to history and mythology, with great skill and imagination,” he said.

Best single poem (£1,000) was won by Ian Patterson for The Plenty of Nothing.

This poem “speaks to the reader with great force and skill. Both complex and bold, this is the kind of poetry that will inspire other poets to take greater risks”, added Marr.

Patterson said the poem was an “elegy for my late wife, [writer] Jenny Diski, who strongly disapproved of literary prizes – but I think she would have been pleased that the poem has received this recognition”.

“It is strange to find a poem of mine in the limelight, after so many years of quiet production, but I must say it is rather nice to think of so many people reading and enjoying it,” he added.

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Sandi Toksvig tribute to ‘lovely’ 15 to 1 host

Sandi Toksvig and William G StewartImage copyrightPA/FreemantleMedia/Shutterstock

Broadcaster Sandi Toksvig has paid tribute to “lovely” 15 to 1 host William G Stewart, calling him a “consummate TV professional”.

The Bake Off host added it was “sad news” to hear of his death on Thursday.

Stewart, who was 84, was 15 to 1’s host from 1988 to 2003, with Toksvig taking over in 2014.

Channel 4 was “saddened” by the news, saying the “broadcasting legend” had “inimitable style” which “set 15 to 1 apart from all other quiz shows”.

“Our thoughts are with his friends and family” the broadcaster added.

Skip Twitter post by @sanditoksvig

sad news about William Gladstone Stewart. A lovely man, a consummate tv professional and of course, host of 15 to 1 long before I stepped up

— Sandi Toksvig (@sanditoksvig) September 21, 2017

End of Twitter post by @sanditoksvig

Comedian Adam Hills, who hosts the Celebrity Fifteen To One series which first screened in 2013, raised a fond smile with his tweet, saying: “Even if I had three feet, I’d never have filled his shoes.”

Skip Twitter post by @adamhillscomedy

Farewell to William G Stewart. Even if I had three feet, I’d never have filled his shoes.

— Adam Hills (@adamhillscomedy) September 21, 2017

End of Twitter post by @adamhillscomedy

Another longstanding Channel 4 quiz show, Countdown, also paid tribute, calling Stewart “our C4 brother of old”.

Skip Twitter post by @C4Countdown

Sad to hear the news of our C4 brother of old, William G Stewart.

RIP. pic.twitter.com/nmDaDJvlii

— Countdown (@C4Countdown) September 21, 2017

End of Twitter post by @C4Countdown

Stewart, who died after a brief illness, made 2,265 episodes, met almost 34,000 contestants and presented at least 350,000 questions.

He originally wanted Jonathan Ross to present 15 to 1, only taking the job himself when nobody more suitable could be found.

Image copyrightPA
Image caption He worked behind the camera before hosting 15 to 1

The former Butlins redcoat, who began his television career behind the camera, produced and directed comedies including Father Dear Father, Bless This House and Love Thy Neighbour.

In the 1980s he turned to game shows, working on such ITV favourites as Family Fortunes and The Price is Right.

He married his third wife Laura Calland, a voice-over artist for 15 to 1, in 1997.

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Harry Styles T-shirt pricing ‘mistake’ as fans pay more for larger sizes


Harry Styles is being criticised over the pricing of T-shirts on his solo tour of North America.

Fans noticed that while XS, small and medium sizes cost $40 (£29), large, XL and XXL shirts cost $45 (£33).

The company selling merchandise at his LA gig says it was an error.

“There was a mistake in size pricing at [Wednesday] night’s show,” according to a representative for Live Nation. “Harry and his team were unaware and this has now been rectified.”


Harry Styles opened his North America tour in San Francisco on Tuesday before playing at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

But on social media, fans weren’t happy about the difference in pricing.


The One Direction singer’s next solo concert is on Nashville on Monday.

According to TMZ, Live Nation are taking legal action against the makers of unauthorised Harry Styles merchandise ahead of his gig in Tennessee.

He then plays 10 more dates in the US and Canada including performances in Chicago, Boston and New York.


He then returns to Europe at the end of October before flying to Asia, Australia and New Zealand in November.

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Africa’s week in pictures: 15 – 21 September 2017


A selection of the best photos from across Africa and of Africans elsewhere in the world this week.

Daniel Laruelle of South Africa walks on the line during the Highline Extreme event in Moleson peak, western Switzerland on September 15, 2017. Fifty of the Worlds best slackliners compete until September 17, 2017 on six different lines ranging from 45 metres to 304 metres.Image copyrightAFP

South African Daniel Laruelle competes at the Highline Extreme event in Switzerland on Friday. Fifty of the world’s best slackliners, as they are known, walk across six tightropes ranging in height from 45 to 304 metres.

Rugby Union - Championship - New Zealand All Blacks vs South Africa Springboks - Auckland, New Zealand - September 16, 2017 A fan of South Africa"s Springboks wears a headdress and novelty glasses.Image copyrightReuters

Another day, another display of South African single-mindedness. This Springboks supporter appears in high spirits despite South Africa’s crushing 57-0 defeat by New Zealand’s All Blacks in the Rugby Union Championship on Saturday.

Undated handout photo issued by the Fairtrade Foundation of Fairtrade gold miners in Uganda. Mobile phones could use precious metal which supports better conditions for small-scale miners in Africa under a scheme to supply Fairtrade gold to technology supply chains. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday September 21, 2017. See PA story ENVIRONMENT Gold.Image copyrightPA

On Thursday, gold miners in Uganda search for nuggets on the same day that the Fairtrade Foundation announces its first shipment of Fairtrade gold from Uganda.

A woman looks on at ancient Egyptian inscriptions inside Maya"s tomb at Saqqara"s ancient burial grounds in Giza, Egypt, 16 September 2017.Image copyrightEPA

A visitor to Maya’s tomb in Giza, Egypt, admires the ancient artefacts on Saturday. The tomb is part of the Saqqara burial grounds which are thought to date back to 2,700 BC.

Ethiopia"s Zayd Hailu competes during the women"s junior individual time trial at the UCI Cycling Road World Championships on September 18, 2017 in Bergen, Norway.Image copyrightAFP

Junior Ethiopian cyclist Zayd Hailu competes at the UCI Cycling Road World Championships in Norway on Tuesday, unaware that moments later her bicycle will be stolen. The 17-year-old said the bike was worth three years’ wages. She was understandably relieved to recover her stolen property the following day, reportedly with the help of volunteers from a Facebook group called On a bike in Bergen (in Norwegian).

Supporters of Raila Odinga, the leader of The National Super Alliance (NASA) opposition coalition and its presidential candidate, cheer as they listen to Odinga"s speech during his campaign rally in Nairobi, Kenya, 17 September 2017. Odinga once again reiterated that opposition will not take part in presidential election re-run unless the electoral body Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is reconstituted by removing some of its officials. The presidential election re-run is set for 17 October 2017.Image copyrightEPA

On Sunday, supporters of Kenyan presidential challenger Raila Odinga cheers as he addresses a campaign rally in the capital Nairobi. Despite his successful petition to the Supreme Court to annul last month’s presidential election results over voting irregularities, Mr Odinga has since said that he and his opposition coalition will not take part in a re-run unless the electoral commission replaces key members of staff.

One and half year-old male camel "Junior" is decorated with flags as his owner takes part in a voluntary campaign to support Kenya"s president and his Jubilee Party in Nairobi on September 18, 2017. Doubts are growing over Kenya"s ability to hold a rerun of its presidential election in just one month as key players remain unable to agree on how to conduct a credible vote, analysts say. Bickering on all sides and confusion over the process have only increased as the clock ticks down to the October 17 vote, called after the Supreme Court annulled the initial August election, citing widespread irregularities.Image copyrightAFP

The next day, a young camel by the name of Junior looks unimpressed at being drafted in by its owner to demonstrate in support of the governing Jubilee Party. Following doubts about whether the necessary election materials and processes will be ready for the original date of 17 October, the re-run has been delayed by nine days.

Abdou Razak (C) of Togo demonstrates with others against President Faure Gnassingbé in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza outside the UN in New York on September 19, 2017.Image copyrightAFP

As the world’s media turn towards the UN General Assembly in New York, Togo opposition supporters in the US seize the opportunity to make themselves heard. These protesters, pictured on Tuesday, are among the hundreds of thousands of Togolese people to have taken to the streets in the past weeks to demand constitutional change and the resignation of President Faure Gnassingbé.

A migrant holds his baby on the MV Aquarius rescue ship after being rescued by SOS Mediterranee organisation during a search and rescue (SAR) operation in the Mediterranean Sea, off the Libyan Coast, September 15, 201Image copyrightReuters

A baby is clutched by its father after their rescue by non-governmental body SOS Méditerranée during a search and rescue operation for migrants off the Libyan coast on Friday.

Images courtesy of AFP, EPA, PA and Reuters

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Riverdale safety questions after KJ Apa crashes car after 14-hour day


A car crash involving Riverdale star KJ Apa has triggered a debate around on-set working conditions.

The actor, who plays Archie in the show, was involved in a collision last week after he says he worked a 14-hour day.

He reportedly fell asleep at the wheel during a 45-minute drive home.

The 20-year-old walked away from the crash but “safety issues affecting performers” are now being questioned.

Cole Sprouse and KJ Apa

“This is an extremely troubling situation and we are deeply concerned about the safety of performers on the Riverdale set,” said a spokesman for the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists [SAG-AFTRA].

“We are sending a team to Vancouver to review the circumstances surrounding safety issues affecting performers on this production.”

KJ Apa’s co-star Cole Sprouse, who plays Jughead in the series, had reportedly planned to be in the car too but changed his mind at the last minute.

It’s thought he’s called for production teams to provide transport for cast and crew who work late, with a reported meeting between production executives and agents of some of the cast taking place this week.

It’s currently Warner Bros. Television policy that actors are responsible for their own transport when a show is filming outside of the United States.

Because Riverdale is filmed in Vancouver in Canada, the show falls under that clause.

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Sinéad Morrissey recites The Millihelen on The Arts Show


Watch Northern Ireland poet Sinéad Morrissey, new winner of The Forward Prize, reciting her poem The Millihelen on BBC NI’s The Arts Show.

The Forward Prize is one of the most prestigious prizes in poetry, with previous winners including Ted Hughes, Carol Ann Duffy and Seamus Heaney.

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Wolf Alice: ‘Our album is like hummus’

Wolf AliceImage copyrightLaura Allard Fleischl
Image caption Wolf Alice (L-R): Theo Ellis, Joff Odie, Ellie Rowsell, Joel Amey

“It’s crazy, Los Angeles,” says Wolf Alice’s bassist, Theo Ellis. “It’s like a fictitious city.”

“You can go skiing and then come back down to the ocean,” adds singer Ellie Rowsell, “or go to the desert and then into town.”

The band spent the start of 2017 in the city, recording Visions of a Life – their follow-up to the Mercury-nominated debut My Love Is Cool.

Like that record, it tears up the indie-rock rule book, merrily flitting between wild-eyed punk (Yuk Foo), dreamy pop (Beautifully Unconventional) and chiming indie melodies (Planet Hunter).

“We’re easily influenced,” laughs Rowsell. “But I think the thing we’ve learned the most is that you have to trust your gut.”

The band landed in LA on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration, noting that “everyone seemed really angry”. But the political situation didn’t really feed into the record, most of which was written in advance.

Instead, the lyrics are deeply personal, talking about departed friends, blossoming love affairs and, on Sky Musings, a panic attack Rowsell suffered at 40,000 feet while flying between stops on tour.

The band tell the BBC why they “couldn’t hold back” their feelings; why Craig David should be prime minister; and how hummus is the “good analogy” for their ambitious and impressive second album.

Image caption The band took a prime slot on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage in 2016

The first single, Yuk Foo, is such a loud and angry song, but you wrote it in a dressing room. How did you demo the vocals?

Ellie: I’ve mastered this by having, unfortunately, lived with my parents my whole life. When you’re supposed to be being quiet, but you want to write a song where you’re shouting, I have my technique. It sounds a little bit like this. [Makes a sound uncannily like a chipmunk].

I promise it actually sounds like shouting if you layer it up and put enough effects on it!

Theo: That might be the reason for our unique sound, is you trying to record angry songs very quietly.

Was Yuk Foo targeted at anything in particular? Had someone left the M&Ms off your rider?

Ellie: Yes, someone decided to put sun-dried tomatoes in my hummus.

Theo: Scum!

It’s funny you bring up hummus… The first time I interviewed you, in 2014, you told me it was the only item on your rider.

Ellie: Haha! We’re very low maintenance.

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption The band’s tour rider is hand-delivered by artisanal chefs by midday, or the gig is cancelled (NB: Not true)

What’s your favourite variety: Red Pepper, Moroccan, traditional?

Ellie: I like anything with garlic in it. But yeah, probably just traditional.

Theo: To be fair though, maybe we should get different varieties…

Marks and Spencer does a selection pack.

Theo: Too posh! Too bougie!

Ellie: I think hummus is quite a good analogy for our album. You get all these different varieties but at the end of the day they’re all hummus. Yuk Foo is a spicy hummus, Don’t Delete The Kisses is beetroot.

That’s one of the things that impresses me about the album – You have a different sound, and even vocal style, from one track to the next. Is that something you considered in the writing process?

Ellie: Not really the songwriting, but maybe the recording. We’re all quite easily influenced. I’ll watch one band and be like, “I want to be in that band” and then I’ll watch another completely different band and be like, “actually, no, I want to be in that band”. But why do I have to be in one or the other? I can go and write like a stoner rock dude, and then write a sugary folk song – and adopt the role of each singer without doing anything that feels unnatural to me.

What band do you want to be in today?

Theo: I want to be in Outkast, but played by the members of Drenge. OutDrenge.

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Media captionWolf Alice perform Beautifully Unconventional, Bros and a cover of Green Day’s Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) for BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge

It feels like the lyrics on this album are more revealing than the first record…

Ellie: I held back less on this record. It’s something you grow into with confidence. If you were to write a diary and you held things back, when you went back to look at it when you were older, you’d be annoyed because you want to know how you truly felt. So I didn’t want to do that.

Musically, as well, we didn’t do that. People often say guitar solos are embarrassing, but if they’re working it’s not embarrassing. Just do it.

Speaking of which – did I hear a saxophone solo on Heavenward?

Ellie: No! That’s Joff’s guitar.

Theo: I really like it. It’s a very specific guitar pedal that he bought.

Ellie: It’s called a Miku.

Theo: The nature of the pedal is quite bizarre. It’s supposed to emulate the singing voice of multiple Asian women. It’s really, really weird. He just bought it on a whim, because he’s always exploring how to make his guitar sound different. My mum thought it was bagpipes when I played it to her.

St Purple and Green is a really personal lyric. It’s about your grandmother, right?

Ellie: Yes. My grandma, she was always a big talker but her mind slowly began to deteriorate. I remember I went to her house one day and she was saying: “I want to go there, purple and green.” I was like, “What is she going on about?” but I also liked the way she was talking.

One of the most inspiring things about her was she was always quite excited by the prospect of death. She always said, “Why would you be scared of it? It’s the next big adventure.” I guess Purple and Green is about that – don’t be scared, you get to go to this new place.

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption The group formed as a folk duo in 2012, but spent several years touring to refine their sound

And the song Sky Musings sounds like a panic attack in three minutes. What inspired those lyrics?

Ellie: I’ve had quite a few moments on long haul flights where I’ve had a couple of drinks and watched some rom-com and felt like I had a thousand million thoughts swimming around my head.

Apparently it’s a thing that happens on flights: Because its one of the only opportunities you get to do nothing, you start to have lots of thoughts which you’d normally push aside. And also, your life is in the hands of someone else, so people get very emotional. So Sky Musings is kind of the journey of that panic attack, which I had on lots of different flights, but rolled into one for the sake of a song.

You’ve recently done some work with the Labour party. What’s your view on Corbyn-mania?

Theo: He’s been adopted by a generation even younger than us, I reckon. He’s the meme lord! The older media were a little reluctant to endorse him.

Ellie: And it didn’t stop him… or it did for a bit…

Theo: Yeah, it stifled him but social media and a lot of youth-leaning outlets championed him. It’s really interesting to see that – especially with Brexit being voted for, largely, by the older generation.

But then, he’s pro-Brexit.

Theo: Yeah, I don’t necessarily agree with him on Brexit.

Ellie: But I think lots of people were for Brexit, when it wasn’t really laid out to us what Brexit would mean.

Theo: Politics is for everyone, and I don’t feel everyone was given the right information on what was going on. People were ringing up the next day and saying, “Can I change my vote?”

Will Brexit affect you as a band?

Theo: It does directly affect touring in Europe. We have to get all the right pieces of information and documentation.

Ellie: So many bands can’t get to America because of Visa issues. If we’re going to have to start needing Visas around Europe, it’s the end of low-level touring.

Image copyrightLaura Allard Fleischl
Image caption Visions of a Life is set to be one of the year’s biggest rock records

You built your career on touring. Why don’t more bands do that?

Ellie: It’s expensive to tour. You have to remember that. We did it on a shoestring but we were lucky that we had a mate that would drive us, and we had jobs that would let us go.

You’re a big, formidable presence on stage now, was that true at the beginning?

Theo: No. We had no idea who we were at all!

Ellie: I was probably more confident, in a way, because I thought no-one was paying attention.

One thing I’ve noticed is that your influences are much broader than most guitar bands. Wasn’t Craig David’s Born To Do It the first record Theo bought?

Theo: How the heck did you know that?! But, yeah, he’s such a good performer. He’s the Judi Dench of garage now. He’s like a British icon. A hero. He went away for 10 years, moved to Miami, got massive, came back and started shelling it down at every festival on earth.

He is also exceptionally polite in real life.

Theo: I know! Craig David for next Labour leader.

Ellie [singing]: Oh, Cra-i-ig David.

What was your first record, Ellie?

Ellie: I think mine was Missundaztood by Pink.

That was Dua Lipa’s first record, too.

Ellie: Really? That’s funny. I think Pink’s like a rock star making pop music.

Theo: Everyone likes Pink. And Dua Lipa leans her chair back very far on flights.

It feels like there’s a story there…

Theo [in a strained voice]: “I need some wine, Dua Lipa is crushing me.”

Listen, Dua Lipa has no idea who I am. But shout out to her, I really like her. She’s totally wicked. She’s just really bad at flying.

Wolf Alice’s second album, Visions of a Life, is out on 29 September.

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Strictly Come Dancing: Can you predict the winner?


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Media captionWhat can you tell from the scores of previous winners and losers?

The BBC’s Reality Check team was wondering, after 14 series of Strictly Come Dancing, an extraordinary amount of fake tan and millions of sequins, what can numbers tell us about who might win?

We have taken the judges’ scores for all the contestants every week for all 14 series of the programme, largely from the fan-site Ultimate Strictly, and looked at whether you can predict the outcome using statistics.

The Strictly team does not give out the results of the public vote, even to us, so we’ll have to go on what the judges said and which couples were ejected from the competition each week.

Image caption The first series of Strictly, won by Natasha Kaplinsky and Brendan Cole, ran for only eight weeks

This is what we discovered.

Has there been points inflation?

At first glance it looks as if the number of points the couples get from the judges has been increasing, especially in the first six series.

In this chart, we’ve looked at the average number of points given by the judges in each series.

If you’ve really been concentrating, you’ll know that in the 14 series there were a total of four weeks when they had five judges – we’ve adjusted for that.

But if you look further into the numbers, it turns out that there is a more important factor than points inflation.

The first series of Strictly ran for eight weeks with eight celebrities – series 14 had 15 couples and 13 weeks of competition.

It means that the finalists in the last series had almost twice as many programmes to hone their skills as the ones in the first – so no wonder they were getting 40s by the end, while the average score in the final in 2004 was 28.

Who is the toughest judge?

It will be no surprise to regular viewers of the show that the toughest judge to please is Craig.

On average, he is about a point tougher on contestants than the other judges are.

In the first 14 series, Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli and Len Goodman served as three of the four judges, with occasional help from guest judges.

Image copyrightPA
Image caption In series 15, Shirley Ballas is replacing Len Goodman as head judge

The fourth spot was taken by Arlene Philips for six series, Alesha Dixon for three and Darcey Bussell for five.

But while it is harder to impress Craig, if you get a 10 from him you are almost certain to make it to the last three in the competition.

It should be said though that he doesn’t give 10s early in the competition.

Ali Bastian and Brian Fortuna in episode eight of series seven, and Danny Mac and Oti Mabuse in episode nine of series 14 were his earliest.

Does the dance make a difference?

There are all sorts of perceptions about easy and difficult dances, with some striking fear into the heart of competitors.

Image caption Ed and Katya actually got 26 points for their cha cha cha, their second highest score

Some dances do appear to be harder than others – but the effect is small.

Each of the samba, rumba, cha-cha-cha and jive has resulted in scores that were 1.5 points lower on average than for other dances (that is, 1.5 points out of 40), which is probably not enough to send a would-be winner to the dance-off.

And in case you were wondering, there is no significant impact from where you appear in the show – going first or last won’t affect your chances.

Can you predict the winner?

Viewers may be pleased to hear that you can’t predict the winner or the finalists completely reliably.

If you look at the situation half way through the competition, it is possible to make predictions of who the last three couples in the competition will be that were about 70% accurate for the 14 series so far.

The most important determinant at that stage is how many points the couples get from the judges that week.

Whether they have yet been involved in a dance-off makes surprisingly little difference.

There is evidence that the judges tend to give slightly higher scores to female celebrities, but it’s not enough to influence who gets to the dance-off or indeed who wins the competition, which has been won eight times by men and six times by women.

And it’s important to stress that it’s still all to play for – if a couple reaches the half-way stage, then there is nothing they can have done so far that means they definitely won’t get into the final.

But that’s not to say there isn’t a reliable indicator out there that we haven’t tested. Could shoe size be the key indicator? Or the number of rhinestones on the costume? Or what the judges had for breakfast? Strictly-obsessed statisticians – we lay down the gauntlet to you.

With thanks to Susan Connolly from Cambridge University for help with the statistical analysis.

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