Tuesday 20 March 2018

Wooden spoon for Ainsley Harriott as TV chef joins male exodus from Strictly

Ainsley Harriott and Natalie Lowe during their final dance after becoming the fourth couple to exit Strictly Come Dancing (BBC/PA)
Ainsley Harriott and Natalie Lowe during their final dance after becoming the fourth couple to exit Strictly Come Dancing (BBC/PA)

Ainsley Harriott has said he is "disappointed" to be the fourth celebrity to exit Strictly Come Dancing.

"I gave it my best. I really did," said the celebrity chef, who had been partnered with professional Natalie Lowe.

"I hope it goes down that I entertained people and I showed that it's such a lovely skill to acquire. I would have liked to have done a little bit more, especially for Natalie because she's such a lovely person."

The 58-year-old had no regrets. "I'm happy to have been part of it," he said. "You get so engrossed in the whole competition, the people, the discipline and everything.

"It was a happy experience. Of course I'm disappointed, I'd like to have gone on for a few more weeks at least, but that's Strictly for you. You can never tell what's going to happen and that's what makes it the show it is."

Strictly has now lost its fourth male celebrity in a row as Harriott follows Iwan Thomas, Anthony Ogogo and Daniel O'Donnell out of the competition.

Asked to account for the gender quirk, the chef said: "Over the years, we have seen that the male dancers with women have come out on top, maybe because the men are the ones that lead.

"Maybe that's a slight sort of advantage instead of being an amateur like me and trying to lead a brilliant dancer like Natalie."

Genial Harriott faced pop star Jamelia in the dreaded dance-off when the judges' scores were combined with the results of the viewers' votes.

Harriott and his professional partner Lowe reprised their jive to Shake, Rattle and Roll, while Jamelia and Tristan MacManus performed their foxtrot to Celine Dion's Because You Loved Me.

After both couples had danced again, judges Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli and Darcey Bussell all chose to save Jamelia.

Head judge Len Goodman's vote was academic, but he agreed with his fellow panellists.

When asked by co-presenter Tess Daly if he had enjoyed his time on the show, Harriott said: "It's been absolutely amazing."

The London-born chef was philosophical about his departure, despite scoring more than bottom-placed broadcaster Jeremy Vine.

"There's been occasions where people have been top of the leaderboard, or near enough top of the leaderboard, and been in the dance off," he said during his exit interview.

"This happened to me on a couple of occasions, once I was able to rectify it, last night it didn't quite go according to plan."

Harriott praised his fellow celebrity contestants, but struggled to choose a winner from pop star Jay McGuiness, actresses Helen George and Kellie Bright and broadcaster Anita Rani.

"Jeremy Vine was saying: 'Jay. He's so fantastic, we would be his father!' I thought: 'I don't know about that, Jeremy. Maybe you could be, I couldn't be!'

"He's looking strong, he's coming out with some fantastic dances. Helen, Anita, even Kellie - just looking great. It's one of those four, personally. I think they just produce fabulous dances week after week after week."

After rubbing shoulders with an EastEnders star, Harriott was asked if he would like a spot in the BBC One soap.

"They're all professional actors, I'm a chef," he chuckled. "Maybe I could in there and fry a few eggs. 'Bacon butty. Number three! Who's having the cous cous? They'd probably go, 'what's this coo coo stuff?"

Sunday's results show also featured a performance from rock legend Bryan Adams.

The remaining 11 couples will return to the dance floor next weekend for Strictly's Halloween special.

Strictly Come Dancing is broadcast on Saturday October 31 at 6.35pm.

Press Association

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