It was a sparkles and sequins spectacular in Blackpool’s Tower Ballroom tonight, as Strictly Come Dancing saw the nine remaining celebrities samba and quickstep across the dancefloor.
An energetic group dance opened the show, complete with dancers in giant flower dresses and, young ballroom champions, before Sir Bruce Forsyth returned from his week off to join Tess Daley in the hosting slot.
“You’ve only been in Blackpool a day and look at all those wonderful tans!” Brucie quipped, before his limelight was stolen by the first couple to dance.
Advised to start bringing more character to her performances, singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor emerged with her game face on.
‘Shut up, close the door and call me Mary!’ gushed Len, telling Sophie and partner Brenden Cole that the sharp performance was ‘spot-on’.
Fresh from his ‘10’ last week, actor Patrick Robinson glided a pink feather-clad Anya across the floor to Barry Manilow’s 'Copacabana'. The rhythm was briefly lost when Anya’s heel became trapped in her dress, but the pair soon recovered.
His old England team-mates tried and failed to bring home the goods at Twickenham earlier, but Ben Cohen delivered an ‘air and flow’ with some lovely lifts amid dry ice.
It was the Wild, Wild West for Hollyoaks' Ashley Taylor-Dawson, who had been lassoed into shape by Ola Jordan for tonight’s Paso Doble.
“A cowboy defending himself with a cape doesn’t really do it for me, but each to their own dah-ling, each to their own,” sneered Craig.
After her ‘forgettable’ dance last week, Bond girl Fiona Fullerton swapped a speedboat for a cruise to perform the American Smooth. “The movement was a little bit business class and the lifts were a little bit economy,” said Len, but he admired the elegance.
A day at the seaside was the theme for model and presenter Abbey Clancy’s dance. “If you were a stick of Blackpool rock you’d have ‘talent’ written right through you,” said Len, before awarding her the first 10 of the night.
Actor Mark Benton was determined to give it 100% after finding himself in the final two last week, dancing the jive to 'You Can’t Stop The Beat’ from his own show Hairspray.
Craig said it “looked like you had flippers on the end of your legs”. Brucey hit back to support birthday boy Mark, despite an awkward moment referring to “a guy of his size”.
Journalist Susanna Reid and partner Kevin Clifton performed a Paso Doble “full of tasty Spanish morsels” which saw the “feisty senorita” roar to the top of the table with 39, the highest score of the series so far.
Despite failing to perform last week after fainting in rehearsals, Soap star Natalie Gumede remains the favourite to win the Glitter Ball trophy after tying with Susanna to take the top score tonight. Her Prohibition-themed Charleston wowed the judges.
Who should be going home tomorrow?
Scores from Craig, Darcey, Len and Bruno:
Sophie - 7, 9, 9, 9
Patrick - 8, 9, 9, 9
Ben - 8, 8, 8, 8
Ashley - 8, 9, 9, 9
Fiona - 6, 7, 8, 8
Abbey - 7, 10, 10, 10
Mark - 5, 8, 8, 8
Susanna - 9, 10, 10, 10
Natalie - 9, 10, 10, 10
Glitziest costume: Natalie Gumede’s sparkly red flapper dress
Best Brucey line: “Sometimes you remind me of a funfair, you’re no fun and you’re not fair!” he hit back at Craig
Judge’s comment of the night: “If you were a stick of Blackpool rock you’d have ‘talent’ written right through you” from Len Goodman
Most embarrassing stumble: This week it came from a professional, with Anya getting her heel stuck in a flamboyant pink feather number during her dance with Patrick Robinson
Top-scoring dancers: Susanna Reid and Natalie Gunmede
In the danger zone: Mark Benton and Fiona Fullerton