Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice secure earliest 40 in Strictly history

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Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice have made Strictly Come Dancing history after they scored 40 in week six, the earliest the top mark has ever been achieved in the competition.

The actress and her professional partner performed a tango to Ed Sheeran’s latest hit Shivers for the show’s Halloween special, which secured them the highest mark of the series so far.

Pernice has been dubbed the “king of Halloween” on the show as he has topped the leaderboard of the spooky themed episode every year since he joined Strictly in 2015.

The dancing competition did not have a Halloween special last year, but in 2019 Pernice came out top with RuPaul’s Drag Race judge Michelle Visage, and previously with TV star Debbie McGee and actress Georgia May Foote, and joint top with singer Faye Tozer and TV presenter Laura Whitmore.

Soap star Ayling-Ellis, who has played Frankie Lewis since 2020, had already made Strictly history by becoming the show’s first ever deaf contestant.

Singer-songwriter Sheeran surprised the couple with a video message which was played to the pair after they completed their dance.

He said: “Hey Rose, Ed Sheeran here. Thank-you so much for dancing to my track Shivers with Giovanni. I hope you have a wonderful rest of the season, I hope you win and I’m really honoured that you’re dancing to it. Have a great day, lots of love.”

Commenting on the dance, judge Anton Du Beke said: “I’ve written a few things down here and they all basically say perfect, congratulations.”

Motsi Mabuse added: “Rose, I’ve been judging for 14 years, I’ve seen a couple of numbers, but this one will remain epic. This was absolutely one amazing dance. From the beginning your acting skills, the way you dance together, the technique in the dance, I mean this was out of this world.”

TV presenter AJ Odudu and her partner Kai Widdrington came in second with their Viennese waltz to Dangerous Woman by Ariana Grande. They received a score of 37 – their highest so far.

Mabuse said it was her favourite performance by the couple so far, adding: “The best part of you two is this chemistry between you, you have just become one. It’s absolutely amazing to see you dance together.”

Du Beke said the pair are “exquisite to watch dance” but instead of focusing on her brilliance he wanted to give her tips to improve her head placement so she would be “perfect”.

Social media star Tilly Ramsay and partner Nikita Kuzmin maintained their third place position from last week with a cha cha to Spooky Movies by Gary Paxton, which scored 35.

Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite, who topped the leaderboard last Saturday with his bakery-themed Charleston, came fourth with his partner Johannes Radebe.

The pair opened the show with their more haunting approach as they danced the quickstep to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Bad Moon Rising dressed as werewolves.

Judge Shirley Ballas said: “What a spectacular way to open a spooky Strictly. It was fabulous from the beginning.”

Dragon’s Den star Sara Davies, however, faces potential elimination as she sits at the bottom of the leaderboard with 23 points from the judges.

She performed her couple’s choice dance to Whitney Houston’s Queen Of The Night, which she dedicated to her family for supporting her through her career as a businesswoman.

Loose Women star Judi Love returned for the themed week after missing the live show last Saturday due to self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus.

The Halloween special opened with a group routine by the professional dancers which featured a host of classic villainous characters, including Voldermort, the Wicked Witch, Harley Quinn and The Joker.

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