Maisie Smith back in the 'Strictly' dance off despite near-perfect Salsa

Watch: Maisie Smith faces Strictly dance-off again

It was another tough week on Strictly Come Dancing for Maisie Smith as she landed back in the dance off - despite being second top of the judges’ leaderboard.

Even judge Craig Revel Horwood, known for his harsh comments, felt so sorry for her that he told her “it takes a long time sometimes to win the hearts and minds of the viewers”.

Read more: Craig Revel Horwood reveals his Strictly dark horse

However, Caroline Quentin was the unlucky celebrity to be voted out of the competition as all three judges had to choose EastEnders star Smith to stay after scoring her nines on Saturday night.

Actor Quentin was a favourite thanks to her grace in the ballroom and enthusiasm for dance, but she and partner Johannes Radebe had had a difficult time with the Cha Cha and were second from bottom on the week five leaderboard.

Meanwhile, Smith and her partner Gorka Marquez had put in another near-perfect performance with the Salsa, scoring 27 points, but somehow their success didn’t translate to the public vote and they were back in the bottom two for the second week in a row.

All three judges backed Smith to stay, saying they loved both celebrities but Smith had the edge in her performance.

In Saturday night’s Blackpool-themed show, Smith had talked about how hard it was to find herself in the dance off, and looked devastated to go through the same thing two weeks in a row.

Unusually, it was Revel Horwood who shared some encouraging words with her before the dance off.

He said: “In this show odd things happen, it takes a long time sometimes to win the hearts and minds of the viewers.

“But if you look at Alesha Dixon, she was in the bottom two, she went on to win the whole show.”

She also found support in some vocal viewers, including choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne.

Quentin, who had said at the start of Strictly that she wanted to fulfill a childhood dream of being a dancer, said: “I have had the honour and privilege of working with some of the greatest dancers this country has ever known, I think they are absolutely fantastic.”

Made in Chelsea’s Jamie Laing and his partner Karen Hauer were the surprise leaders of the scores on Saturday night with 29 points for their couple’s choice street dance routine.

But Clara Amfo and Aljaz Skorjanec, who had topped the leaderboard last week, reversed their fortunes and were in bottom place after a Samba that fell flat with the judges.

They were saved by the public vote, avoiding the dance off and returning next Saturday to take part in week six of the contest.

Strictly Come Dancing continues on Saturday at 7.15pm on BBC One.