Wednesday 7 December 2016

Standing ovation for Strictly Come Dancing underdog Ed Balls

Published 01/10/2016 | 00:06

Ed Balls with his dance partner Katya Jones
Ed Balls with his dance partner Katya Jones
Joanne Clifton and Ore Oduba during a dress rehearsal

Former shadow chancellor Ed Balls' energetic Charleston earned a standing ovation from the Strictly Come Dancing studio audience - as well as praise from across the political spectrum.

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The ex-Labour MP, who lost his seat at last year's general election, was bottom of the BBC show's leaderboard heading into week two, but his barnstorming dance to The Banjo's Back In Town was heralded as a "comeback that Tony Blair would be proud of" by judge Bruno Tonioli.

One surprise fan was Balls' former opposite number George Osborne, who tweeted: "Come on @edballs!"

Meanwhile, Labour MP Liz Kendal posted: "Go go go @edballs !! Fab performance, gave it loads of welly, love the jazz hands too! #glitterballs #scd #craigiswrong".

Balls, whose wife and Labour MP Yvette Cooper was in the audience, was given another cheer when he hit back at head judge Len Goodman's remarks that he had "gone to the country before and didn't do very well". Balls snapped back: "We did win three elections."

Meanwhile, Craig Revel Horwood said the performance had an "air of desperation".

Tied at the top of the leaderboard after two weeks are former Hollyoaks actor Danny Mac and Louise Redknapp, partnered with Oti Mabuse and Kevin Clifton respectively.

In joint fourth is early betting favourite Will Young, who appeared to pull a muscle during his jive to Rock Around The Clock.

Young complained to host Tess Daly following the performance that he was in pain, and his performance failed to impress Revel Horwood, who scored him just five.

The singer, partnered with Karen Clifton, scored a total of 27, three down from last week, and is level on points with television presenter Laura Whitmore.

Between them and first place is model Daisy Lowe whose cha cha cha to CeeLo Green's Forget You was criticised by head judge Len Goodman because it included a lift, which technically should not be included in the dance.

Actress Lesley Joseph, 70 - the oldest contestant ever to compete on Strictly - and partner Anton du Beke picked up 26 points for their cha cha cha to The Pussycat Dolls' Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps.

Revel Horwood told the pair he "could watch it again", whilst Olympic gold medallist Greg Rutherford was criticised by Goodman for his "bum sticking out", and was urged to "tuck it under".

Tonioli, who was given a telling-off after appearing to swear during the live show, disagreed, comparing Rutherford to a locomotive train at "full steam".

The long-jumper, who danced the tango to Jump by Van Halen, collected 26 points - down one from last week, leaving him in ninth place behind BBC sports presenter Ore Oduba who donned a firefighter's outfit for Saturday night's performance.

Oduba, partnered with Joanne Clifton, prepared for their cha cha cha to Hot Stuff by Donna Summer with a visit to Islington fire station, and matched last week's score of 27 leaving them in eighth, one point off EastEnders actress Tameka Empson in seventh.

Singer Anastacia was forced to re-choreograph her dance after picking up an injury, meaning her salsa collected the lowest score of the night and putting her in 11th place just behind Robert Rinder - better known as Judge Rinder.

Joseph and du Beke are in 12th place, ahead of BBC news presenter Naga Munchetty.

Despite the positive reaction from Labour and Tory MPs alike, Balls remained bottom of the leaderboard when scores from weeks one and two were added up.

A public vote could still save the Labour man and his partner Katya Jones, who are one point behind radio and television presenter Melvin Odoom.

Sunday night's results show will see the first couple booted off.

:: Strictly Come Dancing returns on Sunday at 6.15pm on BBC One.

Press Association

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