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Charles Venn & Karen Clifton the full Journey – Strictly 2018

The Show is over, but the Charles Venn & Karen Clifton reviewed journal begins

This page is for anyone who wishes to a have a look at the couple journey, from tv clip to expert opinions.

19th September 2018 Radio Times interview

The First live performance of Karen Clifton and Charles Venn

Strictly – “It Takes Two”  Monday week one 24th September 2018

Erin Boag, Choreography Corner.
The professional dancer from previous seasons was on the show to give comments about this seasons contestants.


Cha Cha agreed with judges that it was more disco in its content. Nevertheless, words like funky, groove, and how he appeared confident, sexy and the ease of doing the moves, echoes what we thought.

“It Takes Two” Strictly Week 1 Tues 25th September 2018

Charles and Karen were on the show

“Red hot”, Darcy said on the night, “never been able to see a man deliver a cha cha in week one so relaxed”.  “Thoroughly enjoyed “-Craig.  Charles claimed he was scared on the night, and on the show, live after the dance he told host and viewers, how it must have been his acting skills, that he didn’t look scared, because he was petrified.  The head judge wanted more cha cha cha. The music seemed more disco, commented Kate.  Charles reminds us that the show is seen by “  10 million viewers, no pressure”, but “Feels like a dream”.   Good hip action. Next dance week 2 QUICKSTEP, Karen has put so much in that routine. “Stuffed like a turkey”, she said.

Strictly- “It Takes Two” week 1 Wednesday 26th September

Ian Waite in
Waite’s Warm-up.

Charles Quickstep Training

Watching film of the couple in rehearsals, doing promenade roly-poly. The rise and fall in rehearsals are being analysed,  they are not together, needs to be in synch with Karen. Also, they have to line up right front to right front.

Strictly – It Takes Two week 1  Friday 28th September 2018

Much harder to keep in “frame”  this week, “101 bits of information, overdrive” “I see this as character building, yeah” – Charles

The Panel Biggins, Gemma Atkinson Alex Zane, Love his confidence, Biggins stated how dreamy the outfit was, he wished he could wear that outfit, but then went on to say you need to have muscles like Charles, and how

Week two Showtime 29th September 2018

Quickstep  Music  ‘Sir Duke’ by Stevie Wonder

Comments before the performance. Charles said it was quite liberating, this will be his first ballroom, he considers himself more of a Latin man. Karen said there is no hip action going on here.


Outfits and Hair, Charles wore a Blacktail suit very traditional

for ballroom. Karen wore what looked like a delicate pale shade of peach long flowing pleated shirt to the gown with fitted bodice area halter neck delicate embellishment that sparkled on the bodice. She had a short bob with a wave to it.

Judges Scoring: Craig (C), Dame Darcey (DD), Shirley (S), Bruno (B)

Scores: C-5   D-6    S-7   B- 7           Total 25
Wk1 + wk 2 scores                             Total 50

Comments from the Judges for Charles Ven and Karen Clifton

Craig (C) “Charles went wrong, was 1 beat ahead, top wobbly, 1 heal lead, confident and loved absolutely the jazz split”

Darcey (DD) ” 1920s Jazz Style  bought out his strengths, light-footed, but this ticking of the head enjoyed it”

Shirley (S) ” Loved the flutter, wonderful tail suit, ” Did not agree with Craig and thought it was Karen who missed the step

Bruno (B) “Suave, elegant light-footed, skimming like a hovercraft, good lead with ease, impressive pendulum” and noted one of them went wrong

Karen said she was proud of him.

Hangerlondon verdict:

The partial splits Charles did were cool, and unexpected, outfits looked great and the jazz ballroom Stevie wonder nice version. We would like to see this couple back again too many pluses or pulses going for him.

Strictly – It Takes Two week 2  Monday 1st October  2018

Charles and Karen were on tonights show.

Next Dance: American smooth

Music The Theme to the Film Officer and a Gentlemen, “Up where we belong” –  sung by Joe Cocker Jennifer Warnes, Written by Jack Nitzsche, Buffy Sainte Marie, Will Jennings.

Zoe asked Charles if he will appear in full uniform to which he replied: “It would be rude not to”.

Charles said he was nervous last week and it all started to fall into place on Thursday. Karen stated she did not hold back with him. Also that she wanted people to see his personality, his improvement, light on his feet.  Zoe asked about who missed the step, but Karen said it was a synchronisation matter at the end.  When Charles let Karen know he could do the splits, and then she twigged when he demonstrated that he meant it, she put it into the routine. Charles said he was able to do that since his teens, due to being a “Big Prince fan”. Karen was asked if she is nervous since Graeme and Oti had that number and were criticised for their “Confusion Fusion”. Karen said she loved Oti’s choreography, but they will be sticking to traditional steps because it will have to fit their music.


Hanger London’s Verdict:

We look forward to hearing the classic Officer and a Gentlemen theme tune, as well as Charles in Uniform and the story the two will tell.

Strictly – It Takes Two week 2  Tuesday 2nd October  2018

Natalie Lowe, strictly professional dancer Choreography Corner

The issue about what was being argued on the night between the judges, Craig and Shirley about who went wrong. Natalie said she watched it back about 10 times to work out what was going on. The 8th part of a movement when the partners are required to go into the next section from what she can work out Charles was slightly too fast. She “Loves Charles, Class act”. Needs to tighten his frame. 3 points of contact for the hands of a man in the hold. Hands, the part of the wrist that goes up under high armpit area of the female towards the back, the hand then tucks round hold the shoulder blade but can act as a rudder to steer the lady around.

Week 3 Showtime Movie week 6th October 2018

Dance American smooth – Music theme to Officer and a Gentlemen

Score points 25

Pre-performance, Karen got to meet Charles Mother. Her verdict was that he is too nervous and should relax, she only gave him 5 points!

Outfits and Hair

Charles was in a white officers Uniform with hat, like in the film. Karen wore a delicate shade of tangerine long flowing dress with slits, and sporadic embellishment but not too over the top.

Judges Comments

Dame Darcey

“Looked the part, control sweeping line, what’s great is that you have extraordinary balance, every time you move her,  you are so confident in your arms,  that one arm lift, you made it effortless lift at the end. Always room for technical improvements and Frame. ” if you keep going that way you will do very well


“Look stunning,” both of you, ” a true gentleman, Loved some of the open pieces and lift at the end. Advice from Shirley get the in earphones, to help with the musicality, help define where the quicks and slows are,  listen to the music, define the timing so there is a bit more clarity when you have beautiful music when the music has truly gone through the ears and out through the soul of the body it really is beautiful to watch.


“Convincing leading man, strong presence, and light tough, but nothing ever seems forced, you envelop her, you play the sensitivity of the character, which is very difficult to do, I believe in you, I think you really are a good dancer”.


Was glad he was not sitting next to Bruno. Craig said he felt the couple were ” Fighting one another  a little bit, timing issues, you both dancing a different dance, that partnership is not gelling just yet, but it will you have the potential, an amazing actor and beautiful to watch, you have all the charisma in the world, and wonderful to watch in that respect”.


Results Show Sunday 7th October 2018 week 3 movie week

Hard to think Charles was in the Dance off. He said obviously he was “Gutted”, “I repeat I’m a novice” “It is what it is it’s up to the judges”.

Bruno’s words of advice” The Guy can dance”, “Graceful, musicality, don’t start doubting yourself”.

All judges voted to save Charles, so Head judges vote was not called upon, she would have voted to save Lee.

Good to see Charles will be back next week.

It Takes Two 9th October week 3 Tuesday 2018

Charles and Karen were on tonight’s show

The relaxed calm couple was asked to comment about how they felt about Saturday’s performance. “I loved every minute of it”, Charles said. Karen “thought it had gone great”. She also said how it was a romantic, lovely dance nice to see another side of Charles. Karen also stressed how those lifts were difficult to do, he did them like a pro. Zoe noticed this too.

Reflection on what it was like when they called the couple as being in the bottom two, Charles had vocalised on the night “wow”. He said this evening, nobody’s safe especially when he had seen Lee the week before in the same position. Charles went onto say “It knocks the stuffing out of you”.  On the plus side, Karen said they enjoyed doing that routine again, but in a good way. Neither the couple or Zoe understand the judges comment about the couple not gelling, but Charles respected that Craig is entitled to his opinion. Karen stated they are both disciplined and driven, so when they were called they knew what they had to do. Charles added, “Tunnel vision situation, fight-flight”. Karen also commented that they love to bring joy fun factor into dancing to inspire people.

Karen pre-warns this routine,  has a lot of lifts, “arm ography”, “arm ography”, into pretzels with lots of fun content”.  They all discussed the fact they need to get more than their 25 scores. karen said they are part of the 25 club. Never the less, Karen said, they, “will work hard, have fun and spread the joy of dance”.

Next Dance  Salsa  Music  “Use it up, wear it out”  by Odyssey

It Takes Two  October 10th  week 3 Wednesday 2018

Brief comments of the couple in training. Karen said the hopefully its the fun side all that rhythm that Charles has will be showcased. Charles said, “We have a lot to prove”.

Ian Waite Comments

For their Salsa, Lots of fab content Ian said, also how the side Cucaracha move needs a bit more rotation, which Ian demonstrated stepping side to side with a rotation of 8 in the hips going side to side.

The basic side Cucaracha steps are demonstrated here by an online dance presenter. We found two useful presenters.


Next Dance  Salsa  Music  “Use it up, wear it out”  by Odyssey

Week 4 Show Time  13th October 2018

Dance  Salsa  Music  “Use it up, wear it out”  by Odyssey

25 points





Sunday Results Show 14th October 2018

Unreal, Charles was in the dance off again, at least Dame Darcey said she was shocked to see him there too.

Show Time 20th October 2018

Week 5 Dance – Couples’ Choice routine (Street/Commercial) Music  ‘Get Up Offa That Thing’ by James Brown

36 points


The couple both wore suits Charles in a yellow suit, Karen in a red suit. Both had purple wide brim hats, both had dark red ties and both had black patterned shirts. both wore lace-up white and black brogue shoes.

Judges comments

Dame Darcey

“Command of that style, so strong, favourite part on the table with sliding feet, isolation, chair decent into the jazz split, you controlled it, you pulled it off”


“A Major Breakthrough …..A… Major. Breakthrough, suave, funky, fresh, grace, gentlemanship from being in the bottom two, 2 weeks running, Amazing well done”


“That is my jam you was killing it, loved it, great choreography, Street is hard, people ask what is the technique the technique is fun, Boy you were jamming you are now a contender ”


“You were slightly late, ”  ( Head judge and Darcy look at Craig and Shirley pats the table repetitively, at Craig in dispute to his comment).  “If you are in the dance off again, I feel sorry for whoever is against you”.


HangerLondon Verdict

We liked this man from the start, looks like he was the Streets choice and the judges choice tonight, nice one.

Week 6 Halloween Next Dance Jive to ‘Time Warp’ from the Rocky Horror Picture Show

Show Time Week 6 Halloween Week 27th October 2018 Saturday

Week 6 Halloween Dance Jive to ‘Time Warp’ from the Rocky Horror Picture Show

Points 25

Week 7 Showtime 3rd November Saturday 2018

Week 7 Dance and song – Viennese Waltz to Piano Man by Billy Joel

Points 28

Outfits and Hair

Dove grey, silvery grey colours. Karen’s dress was featuring a plain dove grey vintage colour pleating tiny details in the fabric that was creating a Grecian style top to the bodice deep v, sleeveless, metallic shimmery texture to the fabric. Full Long skirt plain fabric same colour more mat in texture with layers. Charles wore a soft grey grandad style cap, white shirt with a pattern. Grey tie, grey waistcoat check front, a satin grey pattern at the back. Grey trousers.

Judges Comments


You must have the most beautiful heart inside, genuine, sincere, iIfeel like you thoroughly enjoyed as a unit,  it this evening,  I personally would have liked to have seen a little flatter and more glide, more drive on the one foot,  you know that is coming with time, you definitely getting better, the biggest thing I  was impressed with of all is your timing, you did absolutely wonderful on your timing, I congratulate you well done


Charles so charming, this guy can play the romantic lead in his sleep, it just flows out of him,  its true its   totally believable and  actually your musicality has improved, enormously nice flow, well done very well performed”


Too much rise and fall, posture bit pedestrian at times, I’ve got to be honest,  flat-footed  fleckle at times, all that being said, I loved watching you, you acted it beautiful and like Shirley said the timing was immaculate

Dame Darcey

“I do agree with fellow judges, you do express this wonderful believable relationship, more consistent in, Your frame, bring sternum chin up, not bad at all otherwise.”

Charles was in Sundays dance off yet again, alongside Dr Ranjit who was voted off. So Charles is through to week 8.

Week 8 Showtime 10th November 2018 Saturday

Week 8 Dance and Song

Charleston to No Diggity by Minimatic

35 Points Finally a higher score than ever


Dark blue dungarees and a white t-shirt for Karen, boiler suit matching and a white t-shirt for Charles.

Judges Comments


Standing and clapping”Absolutely super show tonight and super number, the timing was en pointe, cool as a cucumber didn’t miss a beat. ”



“Squeaky clean not a smudge in sight, that Charleston was very complex and you added elements of hip-hop, best dance yet.”


“A little too controlled lacked eccentricity”. Craig was heavily booed for a long time by everyone.

Dame Darcey

” Strong Charleston, great swivels, great chuck, in synch, wonderful, keep pushing that crazy fun side of Charles I Love. ”

HangerLondon Verdict

Good to see Charles make higher scores, not many males left in the competition who have had no previous ballroom / Latin training or experience.

Review of Lorraine TV show 24/10/18

Week 9  Showtime 17th November Saturday 2018

Dance Samba – Song: La Bamba by Connie Francis

38 points highest Score for Charles of the series

Outfits and hair white and silver Charles had an open shirt and Karen had a criss-cross cropped halterneck top with a short tiered skirt, sparkly embellishments were in silver.

Some of the Judges   Comments


“My speedos and I are ready to join in with King Charles of Samba,” Bruno also stated that there were moments when Charles was with the professional dances where they looked indistinguishable from each other, and how he made that dance look easy.


“reminded me of my pool party, distracted by a plethora of abdominal muscles, what I saw I really liked.”

Dame Darcey

” Confident Masculine, natural flow, undulating, I am impressed, GOOD.”


” I’m all hot and bothered, You owned it, commanded it, felt like I was in Brazil.”

HangerLondon Verdict

Great finally it feels like everyone is on the same page, this couple has had a long journey they earnt their spot at Blackpool. Plus another contestant that had no previous Ballroom dance experience.



Week 10 Saturday 24th November  Showtime

Dance and Song: Tango- Eleanor Rigby originally by BEATLES played by Big Country

Score 30 points for the Dance alone gaining an extra 3 points in the Lindy Hop 5th Place   Total 33


OutFits and Hair

Green was the theme. Charles wore a dark forest green jacket with satin wide peak lapels. Under a deep forest green roll neck in a thin fabric. Dark trousers.

karen wore a long fitted emerald green and possibly blue zircon stones and complimentary green embellishments, in trimmings around edges hems and the bodice. Hair was slicked down. The skirt fluted out at the ends it was a long fitted dress with fitted long sleeves.

Judges comments


Positive comments, “Elements there in the Tango very very good, love the postural positions, it wasn’t continuous all the way through Charles, nice heel leads, forward promenade leads. On a whole, though you did very well.” Shirley also said, to concentrate on music and for her, it is always about timing and movement to music.


“Tango soap opera, all the mean stairs, ended up in a tantrum, definitely grabbed important attention. ” Bruno also made reference to the sections where there are sometimes gliding moments as it is not all about staccato, moments of light and shade. “I’m telling you Very Powerful Performance.”


“Lack drive across the floor, I don’t mean drive with you powerfully leading the dance I think you did that ok,  feet slightly turned in at times,

Thumb was gorgeous, to begin with, then started sticking up again. Almost Paso frame rather than creating that Tango V  frame, which has more of a V frame, really exciting to watch

Dame Darcey

I love the serious dramatic man what you gave to this some nice clip transitions, change direction held onto your frame, very impressive one tiny problem at the front just got out of time, but  I liked it a lot.”

HangerLondon Verdict

We always give a clap to those starting from scratch each week to try and get a routine perfect. Plus Charles said on camera beforehand how he himself was not 100% happy with how rehearsals had gone “trying to lock down this dance.” Picking up what Bruno said about the Tango, not all being staccato, this did for us seem to have a smooth and sharp element to it that was easy on the eye and still having suspense and composure. When both male judges known for their critique and expression have said positive things it is a good sign.


Tuesday 27/11/18 It Takes Two BBC 2

Erin Boag Strictly Pro dancer discussing Choreography was on tonights show.


Erin enjoyed it, ” he is a man of freedom, snake hips, better at one style than other i.e Latin. 1. Align his weight up, move the drive from foot to foot. Missing a few heel leads and a gap in promenade position. ” Demo time. “He must drive it from his standing leg,” Erin said because of his height etc.

Week 11 Showtime Musicals Week Saturday 1st December 2018

Rumba to Maria from West Side Story

Points 35

Outfits and Hair

Subtle soft, Charles wore burgundy trousers, a mauve or pastel version of the burgundy shirt and a dark coloured tie.

Karen had a white pearly looking dress that was complex in its construction. On the bodice section it had fitted short ruffle edges sleeves, and pearly delicate beading embellishment all over, round neckline sat low with the same white ruffle that was used for the edging of the sleeve cuffs. The skirt then flowed out to a full skirt with split leg and wrap around the full looking shape with a ruffle graduated as a tier into the skirt. Ballet shoes the soft type.

Some of the Judges Comments


Bruno and Tess spoke about the fact before the number started that he is a massive fan of West Side Story and that it was the first Modern Era Opera. “You created an incredible atmosphere, touching, tender, balanced.” “Many men have crumbled in Rumba, you have triumphed.”


Strictly’s,  head judge known as the Queen of Rhumba, stated that there are 3 stages to Rumba development beginners, intermediate-advanced, and how it was clear how they had incorporated something from each stage. “3 Alemana’s,  hip action great, extreme masculine role Beautiful,” Shirley said she did not see the items Craig had picked up.

Dame Darcey

“To see you lead that Rhumba, so rare for a guy to have control, the two of you, oh my goodness, balance, resistance, the feet, it had “meaning” all the way through.” The Dame of the Ballet did not agree with the items Craig had picked up.


” I think you coped really really well, the negative comments first, need to always be aware of the free arm and the expression, sometimes feet a little bolted, the most masculine Rhumba ever seen, best male rhumba ever had on strictly.”

HangerLondon Verdict

This was suave, this guy can turn what could be considered a very feminine dominant dance into a masculine cool sophisticated head turner. Even before the judges mentioned it, it was like wow never seen a guy do the special Rhumba timing movements like this and lift it out of that stereotype. So nice and refreshing to see Karen in a flowing skirt rather than the usual very short Rhumba dress and high heeled sandals and doing all the derriere shimmying down the pole type moves.


Results Show Sunday 2nd December 2018

Charles was yet again the dance-off against Ashley. Same Fate as Graeme Swann.  A lot of fans fuming over the outcome. So what happens now ?  Any contestants left could face Ashley and Pasha in the dance-off again,  never being able to surpass the accomplished duo.Viewers maybe be voting one way and the judges another. Charles May not have won the competition but for a novice, he still got the best male Rhumba comment from male judges and Survived more dance-offs than seemingly any male too.


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