Anton Du Beke has said Jacqui Smith has “potentially the biggest journey” of any of the contestants on Strictly Come Dancing, but he is still optimistic for an “outright win”.
The show’s longest serving professional dancer has never lifted the glitterball trophy and this year has been paired with the former Home Secretary on the BBC show.
The duo are currently languishing at the bottom of the leaderboard after their first dance together of a foxtrot with top hats.
On Saturday they will attempt a samba to Help Yourself by Tom Jones, and Du Beke said the politician is doing well.
Du Beke, who said he considers last year’s final to be “a draw” despite Emmerdale actor Kelvin Fletcher lifting the glitterball with Oti Mabuse, told ITV’s This Morning: “I think Jacqui has got potentially the biggest journey of anybody on the show.
“Politicians are notorious for working from the neck up, everything is high intellect and not a lot of movement required.
“I think the launch show to the first show last week was the biggest change of anybody on the show, I thought.
Watch: Who are the Strictly Come Dancing Contestants?
“I thought she was absolutely brilliant – elegant, wonderful hat and cane work, and I think she’s made the biggest improvement of anyone and we are doing another dance this week and she’s coming on fabulously so I’m absolutely delighted with her.
“She’s doing really well so I think there could be a chance of an outright win this year, but then I would say that.”
The series features its first same-sex couple in Nicola Adams and Katya Jones, after Steps singer Ian ‘H’ Watkins teamed up with professional skater Matt Evers on Dancing On Ice last year, and Du Beke said: “We have got Nicola dancing with Katya this year and it’s incredible and it’s wonderful and with you guys last year, two boys dancing together, fabulous.
“Any time it’s a first it’s fabulous, but you go to any tea dance up and down the country you will see two ladies dancing together because there are no fellas, it’s been doing it for years, and Fred Astaire danced with Gene Kelly in the 50s, it’s not a new thing.”
The dancer said the biggest change is adapting to new measures, and added: “When we are rehearsing its only us two anyway, we have got some film crew there but they wear the mask and stay two metres away, but apart from us being together there is no-one else around.
“On studio day it’s different and you have to take all the measures that are in the guidelines and also in the BBC guidelines, they have lots of extra measures and rightly so, of course there is no studio audience, which is the big difference.
“But there is a wonderful atmosphere because you have got a few family members of the celebrities there but all in small bubbles and isolated away from each other so there is enough to make a noise, and with all the pros and all the celebrities in the room as well it does make for a wonderful atmosphere, but it’s just incredible to be able to get onto the floor and perform and put the show on.”
Watch: Craig Revel Horwood on filming Strictly in lockdown