Strictly Spoiler 2020 Thanks

Well it’s that time again. This series has flown by, partly due to it being 4 weeks shorter, and its time that I do my annual post talking about the year for The Strictly Spoiler and thanking those who have contributed to another successful year for this site.

Like most of this year it’s been an odd one due to the ongoing pandemic. I’ll be brutally honest, going into this series I was panicking somewhat. The loss of 4 weeks of the series meant I’d potentially lost 1/3 of my annual income before the series even began. There was uncertainty around whether a spoiler would be possible in the event of no audiences and I was bricking it. This is my job, it’s a commercially run business that generates the majority of my annual income over the space of 3 months normally and like so many others I was worried about my livelihood.

The series began and it was looking like things would be as normal. There was an audience and a mole approached me for the first elimination. Then Boris dropped a bombshell with lockdown 2.0 (and later lockdown 2.1). Audience moles were gone for at least 4 weeks (actually 5).

I’d been preparing for this however. I had a plan! Which brings in the exit poll. I’ll be talking more about that in a bit. But during the first week of lockdown 2.0 something wondrous, magical and amazing happened. Two people approached me with access to a reliable, confirmed source of the spoiler. I can’t talk too much about where these sources are obtaining the spoiler from other to say it is cast iron, guaranteed and impossible to be incorrect. Frankly these two people have been absolute godsends and mean it is now possible to get a confirmed spoiler even with no audience, no moles and no other form of leaks. Which helped out no end.

Without these two people we wouldn’t have had confirmed results for most of this series and to show my and the community’s appreciation I’ll be sending one of them a little Christmas gift and the other one declined a gift but accepted an offer to make a donation to a charity of their choice for which they selected Cancer Research UK which I am obviously happy to support especially with the difficulty some people are having accessing cancer treatment at the moment due to the NHS’ priorities being elsewhere.

Moving on I want to talk about the exit poll. I freely admit it’s been hit and miss. This was to be expected and most of you who actually read my content rather than skipping to the good bits will have seen countless warnings all over it. That didn’t stop some people on my social channels, and even some groups I’ve worked with previously, just looking at the bottom two and taking it as read that those were the results that I was putting forward without taking the context into consideration. Most of you got it though and understood that it was a prediction, a guide and something to keep the really impatient people content until Sunday lunchtime when the confirmed results tended to appear. Those of you who looked at the bigger picture would have gotten more out of the exit poll and seen that even when it was wrong, the other participant in the dance off was usually hovering just above the drop zone.

So thank you to those of you who took the exit poll as it was intended. It was an experiment that worked some weeks and didn’t work others (which was expected) and in the end it became redundant because I was obtaining confirmed results elsewhere anyway.

I also want to take a few moments to talk about the various monetisation methods available on this site starting with the adverts. No one likes adverts but they are a necessary evil especially on high traffic sites like this one as the servers required to keep it operating most of the time don’t run cheap. In addition as I’ve mentioned before this is my job, I receive the bulk of my annual income during the three months, well two months this year, that Strictly is on for and nearly all of that comes from the adverts. I don’t talk too much about how much I make from this site for obvious commercially sensitive reasons however it’s taken a long time to get to the point where I can take a full time wage, albeit at more or less minimum wage, from this with 2019 being the first year that happened.

So when the pandemic hit and Strictly was announced to be shorter if it ran at all I was panicking! So many people have had their livelihoods ruined in 2020 and I was worried that I would become another statistic. And whist I have earned less this year than 2019 that loss isn’t the 30-40% I was projecting at the start of the series but is now projected to be more like 10-15% depending on how the final spoiler weekend goes.

In addition this year saw me strike my first advertising deal directly rather than just having the usual google ads. You will have no doubt seen adverts for my friend Ewan’s Eurovision Podcast all over posts this series and hopefully a few of you have gone to sign up to listen to his insights on Eurovision. I know a lot of you on Twitter have enjoyed my commentary over the years and I’m sure you’ll enjoy Ewan’s too especially since he actually gets to go to the song contest! So please check it out and thanks Ewan for your support this series! You can also follow him on twitter if you’d like to check out his Eurovision and other ramblings.

Moving onto donations and this is another revenue stream I thought would dry up this year with the way things are and with many people out of work or furloughed. As always I stress that donations should only be done if you can afford it and there is zero obligation on anyone to make a direct financial donation and in 2020 that’s more important than ever! This site remains, and will always remain, free to access.

The donations help me out with my ever spiralling hosting costs which this year have been crazier than ever with me needing to run my servers at high power levels on a Sunday now as many of you realised that it was only on Sunday mornings that confirmed results were coming through. This year they’ve also helped with my cash flow a bit as normally I’d receive a decent payment from my google ads in November but this year the first decent payment will be around Christmas due to the late start. In addition my hosting bill for November was an eye watering £550 this year when in previous years they have been more like £330 so thank you to everyone who has supported me this series.

If you want to get a last minute donation in, want to buy me a pint (when I can actually go to the pub – damn you tier 3) or a Christmas Present, or just want to thank me for continuing to produce a spoiler for you in what has been a difficult series you can do so using THIS LINK or using the button below:

Next there’s the patreon page that I launched in 2020. There’s currently 10 of you on there which is 10 more than I was expecting with nothing more than a warm fuzzy feeling on offer. For obvious reasons I haven’t had the time to put as much into that page as I should have as my focus has been on continuing to operate in lockdown, however it is near the top of my list of priorities of things to work on and I’ll be looking into what I can offer through that besides the warm fuzzy feelings during 2021. If warm fuzzy feelings are your bag you can still sign up to the page here!

Finally there’s energy switches. These are something I started doing last year as my energy supplier at the time did referrals and my current one does them too so I’ve been pushing them. And you guys have responded this year. Enough of you have switched earning both of us £50 in the process that my energy bills are now fully paid up for the next year which when I receive the bulk of my earnings while Strictly is on is a big deal as its allowed me to set my direct debit at £1 and have one less bill to worry about going in to 2021. So a huge thanks for those of you who have switched. If you still want to get involved there, potentially save yourself a fortune, earn us both £50 and join a Which Recommended supplier you can do so using my magic link! Please ensure you complete the switch through the link and don’t just get an email quote which you return to later as neither of us will get our £50 if you do that. Also don’t forget to enter their competition to win an electric car if you have switched. You should find it on your account dashboard and may have got an email about it this week too.

So that concludes another year for the Strictly Spoiler barring the final elimination this weekend and of course the final next weekend. All that remains is for me to wish you all as merry a Christmas as you can have in the current climate and hopefully 2021 is a vast improvement on 2020.

How The Spoiler Will Look With No Audience

Ok I wanted to do a quick post to show you guys what to expect in future weeks since it is looking inevitable that due to the stay at home message from lockdown 2.0 there may not be an audience in Strictly for the next 4 weeks (at least).

As I’ve been telling you guys I do have a backup plan for if there are no moles. Firstly let me say that if it remains at all possible to deliver a spoiler in the normal way I will. There will be noticeable differences in the format of the spoiler post too if I have to go to the backup plan so you will know each week if it is a normal spoiler or not.

The backup plan involves making use of my polling data to predict the outcome of the public vote and plugging that into the scoring system to generate a result. This WILL NOT BE ACCURATE ALL THE TIME as no polling possibly can be however it’s all I have and as you’ll see shortly it can work and generate correct results. I did this with the data from this weekend prior to the spoiler coming in and here are the results…….

CoupleJudgesPublicCombined
HRVY and Janette121123
Maisie and Gorka121022
Bill and Oti91221
Caroline and Johannes10919
Nicola and Katya11718
Max and Dianne8816
Ranvir and Giovanni10616
JJ and Amy7512
Clara and Aljaz6410
Jason and Luba538
Jamie and Karen426
Jacqui and Anton314

Based on the above the most likely dance off is Jacqui vs Jamie. In that situation the judges would probably save Jamie meaning Jacqui will be eliminated. Also potentially in danger are Jason, Clara and JJ

This spoiler has been generated using polling data to try and predict the public vote and MAY NOT BE ACCURATE!

Except it was accurate this week!!!!! And hopefully it’s going to continue to be accurate for the weeks when we have no moles due to no audience although as I said no polling system can be 100% accurate and I will hold my hand up now and say we will see incorrect results at some point while I use this system. But with no moles it’s all we have and the only way I can deliver you any kind of a spoiler going forward.

I’ve covered this in the FAQ post but best to mention it here too. I am perfectly happy for any spoiler source I work with (and they know who they are) to use the spoiler I provide from the polling data on the proviso that it is mentioned that it has been generated using my polling data and may not be accurate. As for any sources who just leech off the rest of us without ever giving anything back (and I’m mainly looking at the user on Twitter who operates under a similar name to me and posts the spoiler publicly for all to see whether they want to or not), sorry but my polling data and anything based off it is owned by me and subject to copyright so you’re going to be out of luck for the next few weeks.

One last thing to mention and it’s something that cropped up in my comments last night. Whilst we live in Covid times and there is a possibility that my poll data will be used to generate the spoiler the poll results are being hidden from view after you have voted until the spoiler comes in. The reasons for this are twofold:

  1. It helps generate a sense of anticipation over the spoiler but more importantly
  2. It stops anyone trying to preempt me and use my data to generate a spoiler before I do it (though as covered above this would be a breach of copyright so don’t do that unless you like receiving invoices)

So yeah that’s how things are going to look round here for probably the next 4 weeks at least. I know a few of you won’t like it as it isn’t going to be as reliable as normal but it’s really all I can do in the current situation and like many other businesses I have to adapt to the current health crisis if I am going to keep operating.

Speaking of operating providing this site is still going to cost me close to £1000 this series. I always stress this on the donation links but it is more important than ever in 2020 that you only consider helping me out with these costs if you can afford to do so. I would not want to cause anyone else hardship because they chose to help me out. However all donations are as ever gratefully received. You can make a one time donation by clicking on THIS LINK or using the button below:

Also new for 2020 you can make a regular donation by becoming a patreon. Donations on patreon start at just the price of a coffee a month and if the patreon page takes off I can start looking at patreon exclusive content/rewards.

There’s also ways you can help me out for free and even make some money yourself by doing so. One way I’ve been plugging on social media a lot these last few weeks is by checking your energy prices and earning yourselves £50 in the bargain by switching using my magic link (you must complete the switch using the link and not just get a quote which you come back to later). Octopus energy have 100% green electricity, are a Which recommended supplier and were one of the few suppliers to maintain a full telephone service during the pandemic. They’re a different supplier to the one I was recommending last series and are definitely worth a look as we head into the colder months.

Switching energy suppliers is quick (it takes about 2 minutes to sign up from my link and usually about 3 weeks for the process to complete), there is no interruption to your energy supply, no engineers have to visit and you don’t need to change you meters (unless you sign up to a smart tariff and don’t have a compatible meter). I get £50 from every switch so this does help me out quite a bit.

Alternatively you can help me out by doing things as simple as liking all my content, sharing it and getting involved in the discussions on the social networks. This all helps to increase my visibility and get me noticed on those networks and is also appreciated!

The Strictly Spoiler During Covid-19 – FAQS

Most recent update 03/11

I’m starting to get lots of questions popping into my inbox on the social networks and thought it would be best to do a post to cover some of the ones that are showing up regularly.

Obviously the first thing to mention is that this is an ever changing situation and this post will be updated as and when the situation changes and will be referred to during the series so please keep checking it for the latest updates.

Also while some information has been covered before on the social networks, some will be new and all will be new to search traffic who make up most of this site’s visitors.

We’ll begin with the most important question of all…….

Will there be a spoiler?

The answer to this is currently a cautious yes with several provisions.

The spoiler is normally delivered to you thanks to people who have come forward to offer their services as a mole to either myself or other sources I work closely and have a good relationship with. The BBC were intending for there to be an audience albeit with a reduced capacity and a mole has came forward for the week 2 elimination so there was a spoiler in the normal manner that week.

However Lockdown 2.0 is about to change all that and eliminate the audience. With no audience there is a slim chance there could still be a spoiler in the normal way. Sources I work with sometimes get insider info which would allow the spoiler to be delivered as normal.

However I have been working on a backup plan and intend to make use of my polling data to predict the public vote, plug it into the scoring system and generate a result. This will only be done if it is not possible to bring a normal spoiler for any reason and will contain a margin of error so may not be accurate every week but should hopefully give us an idea of how things have gone. The system was trialled during the week 2 elimination and did generate a correct result that week however no polling is perfect and this will not be the case every week.

All spoilers have had their source/accuracy declared on them since 2015 so you will know if a spoiler has been provided through a mole or is a prediction based on my polls. There will also be a noticeable change in the format of the spoiler if polling data has been used as it will be presented as a leaderboard with my best educated guess of who lost the dance off based on the bottom two.

If we go into lockdown 2.0 will Strictly be cancelled?

That’s really a question for The BBC however it is looking like the show can still go ahead.

Strictly is being produced in a COVID secure way with social distancing between participants and the couples bubbled up with one member of the couple living in isolation for the duration of the series. Cast and crew are also being routinely tested. It is highly likely, in my opinion, that unless an outbreak occurs between the cast/crew the series will be allowed to continue and I expect to see exemptions not just for Strictly but for the TV industry in general to allow them to continue to operate in a COVID secure way.

Given how weary the population is now becoming with this crisis I think it is highly unlikely that a complete shutdown of TV production will be ordered as TV may become the only thing keeping a significant portion of the population sane if they are once again stuck indoors.

Why can’t I vote in your polls?

I’m receiving a few isolated reports of people getting errors rejecting their votes when they try to vote in the polls however the vast majority seem to be getting their votes registered ok.

The first couple of polls I ran this series had attempted sabotage from bots automatically voting to try and skew my results. Given the potential importance of the polls this series as they will be used some weeks to generate the spoiler I had no choice but to change my poll system and deploy countermeasures in the form of a captcha.

You will have seen captchas on the internet before. They are the things that present you with a low quality photograph and ask you to click on any squares containing trees or similar. Mine is deployed differently and the vast majority won’t even notice it is there.

Unfortunately no system like this is perfect and the captcha is producing some false positives and preventing a few genuine votes. I may be able to tweak the settings slightly but there is a balance between preventing the fake votes and not preventing genuine votes and it isn’t possible to get this exactly right.

There is also a balance between preventing false votes whilst also making the site user friendly for most people. I could deploy the captcha in the traditional way which would probably eliminate false positives but it would also reduce the number of people who vote as many people probably wouldn’t bother clicking on the squares containing trees just to vote in a poll or would give up if they got it wrong. This would reduce the accuracy of my polling by reducing the sample size in a year when I need it to be as accurate as possible

If you hit the error my suggestion would be to try a different device/browser but most importantly DO NOT ACT LIKE A ROBOT 😂

Why can’t I see the poll results after voting?

Poll results will be used to generate the spoiler in weeks when there are no moles. In order to keep the spoiler hidden until it is posted and create a sense of anticipation in it the poll results are hidden until the spoiler is posted. This also stops anyone else trying to preempt me and post a spoiler using my data before I do.

Hiding the results also helps prevent sabotage as any potential saboteurs won’t know who to vote for to skew the results

If you are forced to generate a spoiler using your polls can this spoiler be shared to other spoiler communities?

All content on this website, including the data from the polls which would generate the spoiler, is owned by me and subject to copyright. HOWEVER over the previous years I have worked closely with a number of spoiler communities who have provided the spoiler which I have shared or who have shared spoilers I have provided. I am obviously happy for that relationship to continue and for any groups I have worked with (and they know who they are) to share a spoiler from this site generated from my polls subject to the following condition

  1. There is some acknowledgment that the spoiler has been generated using polling data and therefore may not be accurate

Any sources who don’t work with the rest of the spoiler community, and I’m mainly talking about the muppet on Twitter who operates under a similar name to this site and publicly posts the results on public hashtags for all to see whether they want to or not, are going to be out of luck this series should we enter Lockdown 2.0 and will find their content removed once again for copyright reasons if they reproduce spoilers generated using my poll data.

Why is the public vote on your poll different from the public vote in the spoiler?

The spoiler will be based on a snapshot of the polling taken shortly before the spoiler is posted. If the polls are particularly close it is possible that the ranking of contestants has changed since the snapshot was taken. I will not be updating the spoiler in realtime should the ranking change following the posting of the spoiler.

Why wasn’t there a pairings spoiler?

There was no pairings spoiler this series due to a lack of moles during the launch show. There was a potential spoiler doing the rounds on Twitter however like most spoilers on Twitter that turned out to be rubbish and I (rightly) was not prepared to stake my reputation on it.

Also unlike the normal spoiler where I can use polling data to try and predict the public vote this was not possible with the pairings.

If you can’t provide a spoiler in the normal way can’t you just shut up shop for a year?

In truth I’m between a rock and a hard place here. I pride myself on the accuracy of the information this site provides and I was genuinely upset the one time in 2015 when a spoiler was partially wrong.

However this is also my job. I receive most of my annual income (which is roughly the equivalent of minimum wage) in the 3 months Strictly is on. I’ve already lost 4 weeks (which in more real terms is 4 months) worth of income due to the lateness Strictly is starting this year and that’s before we factor in the fact that advertiser’s pockets are also a lot lighter this year. My earnings for October are down 95% compared to last series at the time of writing this.

Asking me to rest the spoiler for a year would be like asking anyone else not to work for a year. Only with no furlough pay. And the government support for self employed people like myself is pretty woeful especially as it is based on historic income rather than current income and does not factor in the fact that most businesses grow year on year and in the early days a lot of the revenue is reinvested so profits can be down. I have received some support from the self employment income support scheme but it hasn’t been a lot at all and is going to be even less for the next 2 grants.

For this reason I have to try and operate this series as best I can. I’m a single father of two children who I have to support for the next year on whatever I earn in the next 2 months.

Will there be competitions this series?

I’ve covered this on social networking and on this site but its worth including in this FAQ. Based on the above I think you can guess what the answer is going to be and that’s that I sadly cannot commit to competitions this series.

There’s simply too many variables going on at the moment for me to be able to predict how much I am likely to earn during the series which is a factor when it comes to setting my prize fund. That coupled with me losing 33% of my annual income before the series even starts means I simply cannot commit to offering regular prizes.

Also I would hate to promise prizes only to have to pull the competition because I cannot afford to pay the prizes out. The newspapers would (rightly) have a field day with me if that happened no doubt and it would be a massive PR nightmare even though it would be covered by the usual competition terms and conditions.

Depending on my income I may hopefully run the odd spot prize later in the series but its probably only going to be the last couple of weeks when I’ll be able to commit to this and I’d rather say there will be no prizes and then deliver a couple of surprises than promise prizes every week and have to pull the competition. I’ve also had some people offer prizes in exchange for promotion which is something I am happy to look at in the coming days/weeks once things settle down as it’s pretty hectic at the moment and my main focus is getting this site ready for the oncoming storm of visitors and also panicking about if I’ll be able to provide a spoiler in Lockdown 2.0.

Pulling the competition is not a decision I took lightly especially as the budget for competitions is normally the whole of my marketing budget year on year and the competitions are designed to increase my social presence as well as reward the people who get involved in the discussions. If there was any way I could have run a regular weekly competition I would have done but sadly I cannot commit to it. Everyone on the social networks has fully understood this decision and your understanding is appreciated.

How can we support you this series?

Ok no one has asked this but it’s an important (at least to me) question and in 2020 there are more ways than ever to support me and the work I do and help me out with the hosting costs and other operating expenses many of which don’t involve any direct financial help

Firstly I recognise that many people are struggling like I am and I always stress that the direct financial donation options should only be used if you can afford it. In 2020 this is more important than ever. I do not want others to help me out with a financial donation if by doing so they would cause themselves hardship

That said if you are able and willing to help me out there are a few ways you can make a donation. New for 2020 you can make a regular donation by becoming a patreon. Donations on patreon start at just the price of a coffee a month and if the patreon page takes off I can start looking at patreon exclusive content/rewards.

Or you can make a one time donation using THIS LINK or the button below

If you are struggling though there’s ways you can help me out for free and even make some money yourself by doing so. One way I’ve been plugging on social media a lot these last few weeks is by checking your energy prices and earning yourselves £50 in the bargain by switching using my magic link (you must complete the switch using the link and not just get a quote which you come back to later). Octopus energy have 100% green electricity, are a Which recommended supplier and were one of the few suppliers to maintain a full telephone service during the pandemic. They’re a different supplier to the one I was recommending last series and are definitely worth a look as we head into the colder months.

Switching energy suppliers is quick (it takes about 2 minutes to sign up from my link and usually about 3 weeks for the process to complete), there is no interruption to your energy supply, no engineers have to visit and you don’t need to change your meters (unless you sign up to a smart tariff and don’t have a compatible meter). I get £50 from every switch so this does help me out quite a bit.

Alternatively you can help me out by doing things as simple as liking all my content, sharing it and getting involved in the discussions on the social networks. This all helps to increase my visibility and get me noticed on those networks. Normally the competitions would be helping towards that goal however as mentioned above I cannot commit to them this year.

That concludes the FAQs for now. This post will however become a work in progress and will be updated throughout the series if and when things change with regards to the pandemic. All that’s left to say is that I hope you are all keeping well and looking forward to the remainder of the series.