David James and Nadiya Bychkova have become the latest couple eliminated from Strictly Come Dancing.
After a remarkable recovery from weeks of languishing in the bottom two, the pair once again found themselves facing the dance-off.
This time they were up against BBC presenter Mike Bushell and his partner Katya Jones, following a show in which AJ Pritchard and Saffron Barker triumphed with a near-perfect foxtrot.
Following their second dance, it was James and his partner who the judges decided to send home, with the former footballer paying tribute to fellow competitor Paralympian Will Bayley.
James said: “Oh I’ve loved it. I feel so bad I’ve let Nadiya down in a sense. I’ve enjoyed it but I’ve put some weight on though.”
“Having the best partner and the guys up there. Everyone’s lovely.
He added to Bayley: “Just a word to Will, I think I work hard, but, man, that guy puts a shift in.”
Bayley had achieved high praise from tearful judges for his emotional, narrative performance during the live show where he and Janette Manrara danced a couple’s choice contemporary.
— BBC Strictly ✨ (@bbcstrictly) October 19, 2019
For the dance-off, James and Bychkova gave a second performance of their jive which earned them a score of just 16 during the live show, with Bushell and Jones repeating their salsa.
But it was the former England goalkeeper who was sent home in a unanimous decision from the judges.
Guest judge Alfronso Ribeiro, who was filling in for Bruno Tonioli, said: “The couple who I’m going to save put on a great show.
“The technique wasn’t there but they came out and delivered a showstopper for the audience to love so I’m going to save Mike And Katya.”
WOWWW a moment in my life I will never forget. Felt every step of that dance. I’ve had so much support from everyone thanks so much from the bottom of my heart ❤️ thanks to @nikkitrow @jaredhageman and of course my amazing friend @jmanrara 🕺we did it!! pic.twitter.com/qyJ5KnqOOO
— Will Bayley MBE (@WillBayleytt) October 20, 2019
Craig Revel Horwood said: “Well for me both couples were pretty much technically equal but the couple who I’d like to save were the most confident performers and that was Mike And Katya.”
Motis Mabuse echoed their views, with Shirley Ballas saying she would also have saved the same pair if her casting vote was needed.
Bychkova said of James: “He’s done so well. I’m so proud of you. From the first day he couldn’t lift his elbows up or stand straight and now he’s delivered such an amazing jive. I’m so proud.”
Strictly Come Dancing returns on Saturday October 26 at 6.35pm