Entertainment

Strictly stars battle it out for a place in the quarter-final

Saturday evening's live performances followed the return to Blackpool's Tower Ballroom last week.

The Strictly Come Dancing contestants gave it their all during week 20 of the competition as they fought to secure a place in the quarter-final.

Saturday evening’s live performances followed the BBC One dancing competition’s return to Blackpool’s prestigious Tower Ballroom last week.

Will Mellor claimed the top spot on the leader board ahead of Sunday evening’s result show after the actor, 46, and his professional partner Nancy Xu opened the live show with a Charleston to Hush by Kula Shaker.

The upbeat performance earnt the actor a score of 38 and positive feedback from the judging panel as well as a standing ovation from Shirley Ballas and Motsi Mabuse.

Head judge Ballas, 62, said: “Every single thing worked for you today,” while Anton Du Beke said it was Mellor’s best performance of the series.

Ellie Taylor found herself at the other end of the leader board with a score of 25 after she failed to impress the judges with her jive to Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison.

After the Ted Lasso actress, 38, danced a Thelma & Louise-themed performance with partner Johannes Radebe, Craig Revel Horwood said: “It lacked punch, it lacked precision, the footwork was messy, you went wrong. All in all it was lacklustre, I’m afraid.”

Motsi Mabuse added: “We need a bit of pendulum and suspension in the legs so it’s a bit lighter. And that was missing a bit.”

Fleur East took to the dancefloor after securing the first perfect score of the series in Blackpool last week.

The singer and radio presenter, 35, and partner Vito Coppola performed a rumba to Too Lost In You by Sugababes, which earnt the pair a score of 35.

The dance received mixed feedback from the judges, with Revel Horwood, 57, saying: “I felt like you were holding back and that was like a block for some reason… but I loved the connection that you had with each other.”

Ballas said: “I thought it was extremely passionate, I was getting all hot and bothered over here!”

Also scoring 35 was Molly Rainford and partner Carlos Gu, who impressed the judges with their tango to Bad Guy by Billie Eilish.

Revel Horwood said: “I loved the amount of aggression in that, I thought it was absolutely fantastic.”

Mabuse, 41, added: “This is the Molly who is attacking and who we want to see, well done girl.”

Hamza Yassin took to the dancefloor with professional partner Jowita Przystal to perform the Argentine tango to Libertango by Bond, which was awarded a score of 37 after dividing the judging panel.

The 32-year-old wildlife cameraman received a standing ovation from Mabuse and Ballas, but Du Beke and Revel Horwood were disappointed.

Ballas said: “You lead it all. You are that man. You are amazing. I just wish I could dance with you.”

Du Beke commented: “I would like you to have tided up your legs a bit.”

Revel Horwood added: “I totally agree with Anton… It was extremely messy, I feel like it only really concentrated on the top half.”

After earning her highest score of the season in Blackpool, Helen Skelton hoped to impress the judges again as she closed Saturday’s show with partner Gorka Marquez.

The pair performed a samba to Eso Beso by Emma Bunton, which received a mixed reception and a score of 29.

Revel Horwood was critical, saying: “This was very rigid. It was very straight, it was very wooden, there was no bounce.”

Balls was more positive, adding: “I thought for the samba being a difficult dance, you did it well.”

Strictly Come Dancing continues on BBC One.