Debbie McGee tops Strictly leaderboard despite Alexandra Burke's impressive paso
Strictly Come Dancing’s Debbie McGee fought off stiff competition to top the leaderboard in the second week of the series.
The radio and TV personality, 58, was given a run for her money by singer Alexandra Burke, who scored the highest points from the judges for her dance on Saturday evening, but as the points from this week and last week were combined, McGee came out on top.
McGee – who was in second place last week – and her partner Giovanni Pernice wowed the judges with their Viennese waltz to Billy Joel’s She’s Always A Woman, and were awarded 34 points.
Combined with her points from the first week of Strictly, 30, she has a total score of 64.
McGee, who has been hailed as a frontrunner to win the series, was given high praise from the judges, including hard-to-please Craig Revel Horwood, who simply described her routine as “amazing”.
But former X Factor champion Burke and her partner Gorka Marquez managed to get the highest number of points for their paso doble to Jennifer Lopez track Ven a Bailar – 36.
Burke, 29, received a standing ovation from the judges and the audience for the powerful performance.
New head judge Shirley Ballas praised Burke for being able to shift her weight “from foot to foot” and for being “fierce”, while Darcey Bussell said she was in awe of “the strength and the drama”.
Bruno Tonioli said: “You blew me away honey! The secret of a great performance is, when you witness it, you feel it with them, and I felt everything you felt in every moment of the dance.”
Burke’s score combined with her mark from last week, 24, means she ends week two on 60 points and is in third place on the leaderboard.
Last week’s leaderboard champion, former JLS star Aston Merrygold, was the second on the night to dance and his salsa with Janette Manrara earned him high praise from the judges and 32 points.
Added to his score of 31 from last week, 29-year-old Merrygold is now in second place on the leaderboard with a combined total of 63.
At the bottom of the leaderboard and at risk of being eliminated from Strictly in Sunday’s results show is 55-year-old Rev Richard Coles, whose “lumpy” American Smooth dance saw him take 17 points, the same as last week, to give him a combined total of 34.
In joint last place with a combined score of 34 is Good Morning Britain host Charlotte Hawkins, 42, who scored just 12 points for her cha cha cha after struggling with the moves due to her nerves.
Bussell told Hawkins: “This is such a shame, Charlotte – I know nerves kick in when you make a fumble like that, it is not easy to recover, you recovered a bit.”
Ballas said: “My heart really goes out for you this week, it was very difficult to find any technical elements that were well-danced.”
The head judge added that the routine could have been “a little bit more simple”, to which Hawkins’s partner Brendan Cole responded: “I believe in her.”
Tonioli said that he felt Cole was “dragging” Hawkins across the floor, while Revel Horwood said it was “a complete dance disaster”.
Emotions ran high when Sunday Brunch presenter Simon Rimmer danced a waltz to Hillsborough anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone, leaving Ballas in tears.
The 54-year-old, who last week received 17 points from the judges, was given 19 points to give him a total of 36, meaning he is in joint 11th place with Loose Women host Ruth Langsford.
Langsford, 57, managed to overcome a leg injury to dance a Charleston with Anton Du Beke.
In second-to-last place on the leaderboard in week two is comedian Brian Conley, 56, and his dance partner Amy Dowden, due to his poorly reviewed 1970s-style cha cha cha to Shake Your Groove Thing by Peaches And Herb.
Paralympian Jonnie Peacock, comic Susan Calman, Saturdays singer Mollie King, soap actress Gemma Atkinson, EastEnders regular Davood Ghadami and Holby City stars Chizzy Akudolu and Joe McFadden fill the middle spaces on the leaderboard this week.
The first star will leave Strictly this weekend, their fate resting in the hands of the public vote combined with their overall scores from the judges.
The Strictly Come Dancing results show airs at 7.15pm on Sunday on BBC One.