Strictly Grexit for Rutherford after hit show sparkles in Blackpool

Olympic long jumper Greg Rutherford became the ninth celebrity to leave Strictly Come Dancing after the show dazzled in Blackpool.
Natalie Lowe and Greg Rutherford leave the Tower BallroomNatalie Lowe and Greg Rutherford leave the Tower Ballroom
Natalie Lowe and Greg Rutherford leave the Tower Ballroom

Rutherford and his professional partner Natalie Lowe ended up in the dance off alongside gymnast Claudia Fragapane and her partner AJ Pritchard, but the judges opted to save Fragapane.

The champion sportsman and Lowe performed a quickstep at the Blackpool spectacular that earned them a score of 32 points.

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Rutherford, who recently turned 30, said: “It’s horrible, I mean it’s something that completely engulfs your life and every aspect - I mean I am training 10 to 12 hours a day - I have been putting all my heart and soul into it.

“I would like to think I was getting better and improving but obviously not. It’s a very, very tough year this year, there are some exceptional dancers and I knew I was never as good as those guys but I was going to try as hard as I possibly could to get as close as I could.

“Sadly for me it’s finished now. I’m gutted. I spend all my time with Natalie at the moment, we have such a great partnership and such a great friendship that now I know on Monday morning I won’t be doing that now and that’s difficult.”

After both couples had performed their routines again, the judges revealed which couple they were saving based on the dance off.

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All of the judges opted to save Fragapane, with Craig Revel Horwood saying: “I have great respect for them but closer to perfection for me and the couple I’d like to save, Claudia and AJ.”

Darcey Bussell said she was saving Fragapane and Pritchard because of their “stronger technique”, while Bruno Tonioli said he felt they were “stronger both content wise and performance wise”.

The anticipated Blackpool performances saw actor Danny Mac score the first 40 of the series for a “showstopper” charleston.

However, it was former shadow chancellor Ed Balls who stole the show as he was lowered from the Blackpool Winter Gardens Tower Ballroom ceiling playing a piano before taking to the dance floor to jive with Katya Jones to the Jerry Lee Lewis hit Great Balls Of Fire.

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Balls and his styled quiff earned a score of just 23 points, leaving them lingering at the bottom of the leaderboard once again.

Joint second on the leaderboard were former singer Louise Redknapp and partner Kevin Clifton and BBC sports presenter Ore Oduba with professional dancer Joanne Clifton who scored 38 apiece.

The results show included performances by singer Rick Astley and Simple Minds.

The remaining six couples will face a new challenge next weekend when they return to the dance floor to tackle the Cha Cha Challenge, which will see them all performing a cha cha at the same time in the hope of earning extra points from the judges.

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