Debbie McGee hits top of Strictly leaderboard after dramatic night on the dance floor
Break-ups, slapstick and Bruno Tonioli impersonations all featured in Saturday night’s Strictly as the remaining 12 celebrities took to the dance floor.
Debbie McGee landed at the top of the scoreboard for the first time in the series alongside partner Giovanni Pernice after a powerful rumba to Tracy Chapman’s Baby Can I Hold You which she dedicated to her late husband, magician Paul Daniels.
The performance received 27 from the panel of judges which was temporarily reduced to three on Saturday night with Tonioli absent due to a busy schedule.
His omission was covered up by fellow panel member Craig Revel Horwood, however, who offered his best impersonation of the flamboyant judge following McGee’s routine.
Second in the leaderboard with 26 points is Holby City’s Joe McFadden and professional partner Katya Jones who performed a paso doble to Diablo Rojo by Rodrigo y Gabriela.
Head judge Shirley Ballas labelled it the “best paso from a male celebrity” this series.
Meanwhile comedian Susan Calman wooed viewers with a cha cha to Little Mix’s Shout Out To My Ex in which she pretended to break up with Revel Horwood by ripping up photographs of the judge.
However, the duo picked up just 16 points leaving them in joint last place alongside three other pairs including presenter Ruth Langsford and Anton Du Beke who performed a samba to John Paul Young’s Love Is In The Air.
Commenting on their low score, Du Beke – who was sporting extravagant pink flamenco sleeves – quipped it was the “first time in 15 series I’m sort of disappointed Bruno’s not there”.
Also on 16 points prior to the public vote are comedian Brian Conley and Amy Dowden who performed a jive to Tom Jones’ It’s Not Unusual and TV chef Simon Rimmer and Karen Clifton who offered a comedic slapstick-inspired Charleston to Doris Day’s Fit As A Fiddle.
Four couples also scored 24 points including singer Mollie King and AJ Pritchard whose Viennese waltz to Cilla Black’s Anyone Who Had A Heart was labelled “beautiful” by judge Darcey Bussell.
Aston Merrygold and Janette Manrara’s waltz, Gemma Atkinson and Aljaz Skorjanec’s foxtrot, and Jonnie Peacock and Oti Mabuse’s quickstep to Stevie Wonder’s Part Time Lover also all scored 24.
Early favourite Alexandra Burke scored 23 for her samba with partner Gorka Marquez to Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You while EastEnders star Davood Ghadami and partner Nadiya Bychkova received 22 for their jive to Billy Joel’s Tell Her About It.
Despite the setback, at 9/4 Burke remains favourite to lift the glitterball trophy while Rimmer is the favourite to leave the competition for the third week in a row at 4/6 according to bookies Coral. Conley is 3/1 while Langsford is at 5/1.
:: Strictly’s results show airs at 7.15pm on Sunday on BBC One.