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Layton Williams smashes Strictly series record with cha cha cha

Actor Layton Williams has smashed this year’s Strictly record by achieving the highest score of the series so far.

The Bad Education star, 29, wowed judges with his and partner Nikita Kuzmin’s cha cha cha to Million Dollar Bill by Whitney Houston, scoring an impressive 37 points.

Head judge Shirley Ballas said the male couple were “back in the game”, Anton Du Beke called their performance “just brilliant” and Craig Revel Horwood told them “million dollar bill, million dollar dance”.

Nigel Harman and Katya Jones
Nigel Harman and Katya Jones also wowed the judges (Guy Levy/BBC)

Motsi Mabuse gave them a 10 and said she could watch them “day and night”.

Actors Nigel Harman and Adam Thomas did not fall far behind – scoring 33 and 32 each alongside their partners.

The improvement in Harman’s salsa to Suavemente by Elvis Crespo compared with his performance last week alongside partner Katya Jones was noted by judges.

Ballas said “you really decided to pull your socks up, and that is what you did” as she praised his musicality, while Du Beke quipped: “Welcome back Nigel.”

Revel Horwood and Mabuse both said he was giving “real Patrick Swayze vibes”.

Waterloo Road star Adam Thomas’s brother Ryan could be seen shedding a tear from the audience while he watched his brother glide across the dancefloor.

Mr Thomas delivered an elegant waltz for his latest routine with his partner Luba Mushtuk to I Wonder Why by Curtis Stigers.

Du Beke admitted he was “speechless” after the performance and praised the star for having the best top line he had seen across the whole series.

Mabuse also agreed it was his “best dance” since the series started.

Actress Ellie Leach kicked off the fourth week with a lively samba to Copacabana by Barry Manilow alongside her partner Vito Coppola.

Dressed in a vibrant pink feathered dress, the former Corrie star twirled and dipped her way to a score of 28.

Ballas said Leach had “mastered” the dance from the waist upward but advised her to focus on her footwork, adding: “What a way to open our show.”

Mabuse noted the complexity of the routine but said she could see a “struggle” in the actress’s face.

Paralympic champion Jody Cundy and his partner Jowita Przystal performed an energetic salsa filled with dramatic lifts and flips but ended up with the lowest score of the night.

Jody Cundy and Jowita Przysta
Jody Cundy and Jowita Przysta were hailed for their performance (Guy Levy/BBC)

Cundy, who is celebrating his 45th birthday on Saturday, scored 19 points for his dance to Bellini’s Samba de Janeiro.

Revel Horwood said it “lacked fluidity” but hailed the sportsman for the lifts.

Mabuse noted that he started strong with Przystal ripping open his shirt, but that he became more “shy” as the performance went on and encouraged him to be more confident in himself.

Actress Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice performed a quick-footed foxtrot to Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac for their routine, scoring 31 points for their efforts.

Mabuse said she enjoyed that they took the time to show the “beauty of the movement”.

Channel 4 news presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy delivered a dramatic paso doble to By The Way by Red Hot Chili Peppers with his partner Lauren Oakley, securing him 28 points.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Lauren Oakley
Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Lauren Oakley (Guy Levy/BBC)

Ballas described the news anchor as “rather special” and praised his “crisp, sharp, to the point” movements.

Reality star Zara McDermott and Graziano Di Prima made a triumphant comeback after landing in the dance-off last week with their Viennese Waltz to Brenda Lee’s You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me, which landed them 28 points.

Revel Horwood said he “really loved” the routine, describing it as “beautiful”.

Ballas hailed it as McDermott’s “best dance so far” and said she earnt extra praise for coming back so strong after surviving the dreaded dance-off.

Tennis player Annabel Croft and her dance partner Johannes Radebe impressed judges to score 29 points for their jive.

Johannes Radebe and Annabel Croft
Johannes Radebe and Annabel Croft (Guy Levy/BBC)

Revel Horwood told her he thought she was “really going to struggle with this dance” but was “proved wrong”, while Du Beke said she moved in a “beautiful, precise way”.

She said afterwards that the jive is her dance partner’s favourite, so she wanted to do it justice.

Comedian Eddie Kadi and Karen Hauer left some judges disappointed with their American smooth, scoring 24.

Ballas said their performance of Sex Bomb by Sir Tom Jones was a “bit of a dance disaster” but she wanted to be constructive with her criticism as she has been impressed by him in the past.

Irish TV presenter and broadcaster Angela Scanlon and dance partner Carlos Gu scored 28 for their Viennese waltz to You Are The Reason by Calum Scott and Leona Lewis.

Ballas told her she needed to “understand the footwork” so she could improve, while Du Beke said it was “emotionally very beautiful” but “I would like to see it breathier”.

Zara McDermott and Graziano Di Prima
Zara McDermott and Graziano Di Prima (Guy Levy/BBC)

The last two contestants to perform both impressed judges.

Veteran broadcaster Angela Rippon and her dance partner Kai Widdrington wowed them with their rumba.

The 79-year-old and her partner scored 31 for their dance to Conchita’s Eurovision-winning mega-ballad Rise Like A Phoenix.

Du Beke said it was “exactly the sort of rumba I like”, Ballas said: “I am shocked, it is beautiful” and Revel Horwood said: “I absolutely loved it!”

Mabuse told her: “I feel like you are just a message for all women out there, saying: ‘Don’t stop, life is good.’”

Model Bobby Brazier and dance partner Dianne Buswell were criticised by some judges for their tango to Fashion by David Bowie but scored 30, a high total.

Du Beke told him: “I am so delighted with this performance.”

But Revel Horwood was booed by audience members after he said there was a “lack of focus, intent and purpose” to their performance.

The results programme will air on Sunday, when one couple will be eliminated from the show.