Thumbs down for Strictly Come Dancing's Laila Rouass

Actress Laila Rouass has left Strictly Come Dancing after stinging criticism of her performances.

Rouass was bottom of the judges' scoreboard and found herself facing top-placed Ricky Whittle in the dance-off.

Earlier judge Bruno Tonioli said of her salsa: "A deflated balloon would have had more rhythm. I have never seen, in a quarter-final, such a mess."

Although Rouass visibly improved when she danced for a place in next week's semi-final, the judges plumped to save Whittle and sent Rouass and her partner Anton du Beke packing.

Du Beke and Rouass parted as the best of friends despite hitting the headlines for the wrong reasons earlier in the series. Du Beke was forced to make a public apology after he joked that Rouass looked like a "Paki" after having a spray tan. He said he used the term "in jest" and denied he was racist.

On Saturday night, Rouass said it had been "a dream" dancing with du Beke: "I have had such a fantastic time." Her partner responded by saying: "She's been an absolute joy to be with. Not once has she moaned or complained."

Rouass did not complain when both her dances were criticised by the judges, leaving her with just 59 points out of a possible 100.

Ballerina Darcey Bussell, who joined the judging panel this week, showed she had no qualms about giving criticism when she told Rouass: "I was expecting so much more from you." But Bussell showed her softer side when she ended her criticism of Rouass's posture with "sorry".

The retired ballerina was full of praise for BBC Breakfast sports presenter Chris Hollins, saying: "Out of all the four celebrities, you come out and sell it. You have made the biggest improvement out of all of them." But she added that Hollins needed to have more faith in himself and tackle harder steps.

Whittle returned to the judges' good books this week, with 95 out of a possible 100 marks but found himself in the bottom two for the second week running after failing to attract public support. Whittle will join Hollins and The Bill actress Ali Bastian in next week's semi-final.