Strictly's Kevin Clifton blames lack of live audience for Jacqui Smith's early exit

Picture Shows:  Jacqui Smith, Anton Du Beke - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy
Jacqui Smith and Anton Du Beke were the first couple sent home from Strictly this year. (BBC)

Strictly Come Dancing dancer Kevin Clifton has blamed coronavirus and the lack of studio audience for Jacqui Smith’s early exit from the show.

The former Home Secretary and dance partner Anton du Beke were the first couple to be sent home by the judges on the BBC dance competition, after their Samba failed to wow.

Clifton told The Sun: “There is an empty studio pretty much with the celebs and their dancers and a few dotted around on the other side, it does not have that same effect in the studio.

“I think there have been numbers that I have seen where people react in the studio and they have just gone off at the end of the number and Tess [Daly] is trying to talk and they are still clapping and stamping their feet and there is a second wave of applause.

Read more: Jacqui Smith blames chest for early Strictly Come Dancing exit

“The overall feel of the number then, whatever the judges say, at that point is that we all loved it.

"I do think people sat at home, people will feel that noise that is happening in the studio.

Kevin Clifton attends the "Strictly Come Dancing" launch show red carpet arrivals at Television Centre on August 26, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Kevin Clifton won the show in 2018 with Stacey Dooley. (WireImage)

"If that had happened for Jacqui and Anton they might have become everyone’s favourite as it was so out there.”

In order to make the the series during the coronavirus pandemic, Strictly contestants have had to self isolate and work in bubbles. The show launched with a limited live audience, which has now been reduced further due to the national lockdown.

Read more: Kevin Clifton considered 'Strictly' return after announcing he'd quit

In the past du Beke has been known to win over the audience with comedy performances, despite not having the most graceful of dance partners - such as Anne Widdecombe and Judy Murray.

Ann Widdecombe and Anton du Beke go through their routine at Blackpool's Tower Ballroom for ahead of the Strictly Come Dancing show tomorrow.   (Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)
Ann Widdecombe and Anton du Beke came sixth in Strictly 2010, tahnks to the audience's support (Getty Images)

Last year saw du Beke score his best result in the show for the first time in 17 years, coming runner-up in the competition with EastEnders actress Emma Barton.

Ex-MP Smith, 58, has blamed her chest for her poor performance.

She said: “T**s out, t**s out, t**s out. That’s what Anton had told me. That’s sort of been the theme... the problem with my Samba was my t**s were not sufficiently out.”

Clifton, 38, announced in March he was quitting Strictly after seven years. he has been runner-up four times and won the show in 2018 with TV presenter Stacey Dooley, who is now his girlfriend.

Watch: Craig Revel Horwood on filming Strictly in lockdown