Fleur East tops Strictly leaderboard during emotional night of many tears
Fleur East has topped the leaderboard on Strictly Come Dancing in a night dominated by tearful performances full of personal meaning.
Saturday saw the nine remaining couples battle for a place in next week’s Blackpool special, which will see the BBC One show return to the prestigious Tower Ballroom after a two-year break due to the pandemic.
East and her partner Vito Coppola danced an energetic samba to Hot Hot Hot by Arrow.
Craig Revel Horwood said: “If that dance doesn’t get you to Blackpool darling, I don’t know what will” while Motsi Mabuse was reduced to tears.
The radio presenter and singer scored 39 and went to the top of the leaderboard.
Former footballer Tony Adams was at risk of ending up in the dance-off after his jive to Land Of 1,000 Dances by Wilson Pickett fell flat with the judges, earning him just 24 and bottom place on the leaderboard.
Elsewhere, Will Mellor, Hamza Yassin and Kym Marsh all delivered routines dedicated to family, both living and dead.
Mellor and his partner Nancy Xu waltzed to Three Times A Lady by Commodores in memory of his father Bill, who died in April 2020 after being diagnosed with cancer two weeks earlier, earning 38 points and placing him joint second.
He became tearful after the performance which also left Mabuse speechless, while Anton Du Deke described the footwork as “immaculate” and praised how they moved together as a couple.
Afterwards, Mellor wiped away a tear and admitted he was unable to speak.
Stepping in for him, Xu also cried as she said: “We wanted to dedicate this dance to anyone who has lost loved ones and didn’t get to say goodbye.”
Yassin scored 38 points for his couple’s choice to the remix of Jerusalema by Master KG featuring Burna Boy and Nomcebo Zikode, joining Mellor in joint second.
The wildlife documentary cameraman and presenter sobbed following his performance, which was dedicated to his Sudanese and African heritage.
South Africa-raised Mabuse also cried as she said: “I never in my life thought I would see this on Strictly Come Dancing.”
Marsh and Graziano Di Prima danced an American smooth to Chasing Cars, originally by Snow Patrol, dedicating the performance to her son Archie, who was born prematurely and died shortly afterwards.
Before taking to the stage, she said: “I feel like by doing this dance, not only is it going to be in memory of Archie but it also hopefully might get people talking about their experiences because it is the right road to putting your life back together.”
The judges praised her “fragility” and “vulnerability” but noted a mistake at the halfway point.
After the dance, Marsh became tearful and apologised to Di Prima for putting their chances of reaching Blackpool at risk.
However, the judges still awarded her 31 out of a possible 40 points, placing her joint fifth.
Another standout performance came from Molly Rainford, whose rumba to All The Man That I Need by Whitney Houston won her 37 points.
Her success came after she ended up in last week’s dance-off against Paralympic swimming champion Ellie Simmonds.
The episode also saw Adams crack a risque joke following his dance.
Following his routine, co-host Tess Daly asked “what about those roly polys, Shirley?” before Adams teasingly added: “Do you want to roly poly with me, Shirley?” prompting roars and groans from the studio audience.