Sunday 23 October 2016

EastEnders' Kellie Bright tops Strictly Come Dancing semi-final leaderboard

Lorna Cooper

Published 12/12/2015 | 21:17

BBC handout photo of Kellie Bright and Kevin Clifton during a live show of Strictly Come Dancing Credit: Guy Levy/BBC/PA Wire
BBC handout photo of Kellie Bright and Kevin Clifton during a live show of Strictly Come Dancing Credit: Guy Levy/BBC/PA Wire

EastEnders' star Kellie Bright topped the Strictly Come Dancing semi-final leaderboard with a combined total of 73 points.

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Alongside partner Kevin Clifton, she danced a stunning American smooth to Let's Face The Music and Dance by Irving Berlin.

It earned a near-perfect 39 points, with Craig Revel Horwood awarding a nine.

The routine evoked Hollywood legends Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - and it was not lost on the judges as Bruno Tonioli gushed over the "magical" performance.

Revel Horwood agreed. "That was a classic, darling," he said.

Former ballerina Darcey Bussell said, "It had glamour, flair. All the Hollywood quality we want."

Judge Len Goodman felt the soap star had booked her place in next week's final.

For the semi-final, the celebrities were tasked with two routines.

Bright's first dance was a rumba to Songbird by Eva Cassidy.

"There was a wobble and I wish that hadn't been there," admitted Goodman.

The usually-curmudgeonly Revel Horwood was generous in his assessment. "Technically, I thought it was absolutely brilliant," he said.

The Wanted's Jay McGuiness and partner Aliona Vilani performed a Viennese waltz to Bryan Adams' song Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?.

The judges awarded 34 points, but found fault with aspects of the routine. Revel Horwood felt he should smile more, but the former ballerina disagreed.

"I could feel the romance. There doesn't have to be facial expressions, especially in a Viennese waltz," Bussell said.

During the second dance, an energetic Charleston with a Doctor Who theme, McGuiness nearly dropped his partner.

"Exhilarate! Exhilarate!," said Tonioli in a Dalek style. "The Time Lord of the dance," he declared as the pop star was awarded 37 points.

Former Coronation Street star Georgia May Foote and partner Giovanni Pernice were both ill this week and had limited practice time.

They performed a cha cha cha to I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor.

"For somebody who's had limited time, I thought you did great," said the head judge as she scored 33 points.

The second routine, a Viennese waltz to Runaway by The Corrs, greatly impressed the panel.

"I have to be honest, I could watch you dance all night," Revel Horwood said as the ex-soap star was awarded 38 points.

TV presenter Anita Rani and Gleb Savchenko's foxtrot to Frank Sinatra's New York, New York was a crowd-pleaser.

However, the judges were not fully convinced and she scored 32 points.

"The American smooth you did was lovely. I was looking forward to a foxtrot," Goodman told Rani.

The next routine, a salsa to Feel This Moment by Pitbull featuring Christina Aguilera, scored exactly the same points as her foxtrot.

"Plenty of attack, however you lost a little bit of the salsa rhythm," said Goodman.

BBC broadcaster Katie Derham and partner Anton Du Beke opened the show with a Charleston to Too Darn Hot from the musical Kiss Me Kate.

"It wasn't slick enough. You looked as if you were outside your comfort zone," said the head judge.

"You went off-timing," said Tonioli as she scored 25 points.

The second routine, a waltz to Puccini, fared better with six more points. The judges were still not bowled over and Derham ended the night bottom of the leaderboard.

Presenters Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman cheered on the couples - but another celebrity will be leaving the competition this week.

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