'Strictly' goes to Blackpool - who got the first 40 of the series?

Katie Archer

Strictly Come Dancing’s celebrities made their visit to Blackpool worth the journey this weekend with the first full marks of the series – and three runners-up tying on 38 points.

There was extra sparkle in the air tonight as the remaining celebrities travelled to Blackpool to perform at the legendary Tower Ballroom.

However, Ashley Roberts added to the evening’s excitement overload with the first perfect 40 of the series that included the first 10 judge Craig Revel Horwood has awarded this year.

However, her success wasn’t exactly popular with viewers.

Three of her competitors were not far behind her full marks with 38 points each, including Charles Venn and his partner Karen Clifton who were overcome with emotion.

Strictly kicked off in suitably celebratory style with a Gloria Estefan mash-up, featuring the actual Gloria Estefan singing in the midst of the pros’ group dance opening number.

Who was inspired by the hallowed turf of the famous ballroom and who was overwhelmed by the pressure?

Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton

Dance: Salsa to Ooh Aah (Just a Little Bit) by Gina G

What we thought: Stacey has totally embraced the Blackpool theme, even riding in on a stick of rock.

She looked like she was having the time of her life – it was impossible not to smile at her Salsa. At one point we even thought she was going to attempt a Dancing-on-Ice-style headbanger.

What the judges thought: Shirley Ballas said: “You brought more than a donkey, a bucket and a spade, coming in on a stick of rock.”

Bruno Tonioli said: “The ensemble pieces were like watching Kylie in concert.”

Score: 33

Lauren Steadman and AJ Pritchard

Dance: Argentine Tango to River by Bishop Briggs

What we thought: Hats off to Lauren, it was brave to go for a routine that focuses solely on the couple rather than using the usual Blackpool tactic of a huge supporting cast.

Not anywhere near as amazing as her efforts last week, but Lauren is still clearly improving all the time.

What the judges thought: Craig Revel Horwood said: “I felt you were getting stuck between each step. I think in another three weeks darling you’ll get it.”

Darcey Bussell said: “It did look challenging for you. You put your effort solely into the technique and we were missing the passion.”

Score: 25

Graeme Swann and Oti Mabuse

Dance: Couple’s Choice – Theatre and Jazz to The Trolley Song from Meet Me in St Louis

What we thought: It really showed this week that this was Graeme’s favourite dance style so far, and it went perfectly with the setting of Blackpool’s ballroom.

After such a high score, surely Graeme will be safe from the dance off this week? It’s getting tough at the bottom end of the leaderboard…

What the judges thought: Craig said: “I can’t really see you having a career in musical theatre, however it was character-driven, which you do very well.”

Shirley said: “You tugged at my heartstrings and I enjoyed every minute of what you did.”

Score: 32

Faye Tozer and Giovanni Pernice

Dance: Paso Doble to Unstoppable by E.S. Posthumus

What we thought: Brave of Giovanni to wield a fire prop given the liberal use of hairspray and nylon.

Of course Faye was amazing, she always is.

What the judges thought: Darcey said: “Beautiful, strong delivery, dramatic attack, but you kept femininity which is really hard.”

Bruno said: “I’m still steaming like a pressure cooker. You gave the dance ‘I am the dominatrix, I can handle it’ and you did.”

Score: 38

Kate Silverton and Aljaz Skorjanec

Dance: American Smooth to Everlasting Love by Love Affair

What we thought: Kate seems lovely and everything, but given her standard compared to the other celebs and her position on the leaderboard most weeks, it’s something of a miracle that she keeps avoiding the dance off.

It’s quite amazing that the judges, who’ll lay into pretty much everyone else over the placement of a little finger, barely touched on those awkward lifts and wooden moves.

What the judges thought: Craig said: “I thought it lacked a little bit of energy. In and out of lifts lacked a little bit of grace.”

Darcey said: “In the lifts, don’t grab him. But overall, beautiful performance.”

Score: 30

Charles Venn and Karen Clifton

Dance: Samba to La Bamba by Connie Francis

What we thought: Party atmosphere, not a foot wrong, two 10s from the judges and a hug from Shirley – this has to be the dance of the night.

It will be completely unjust if Charles and Karen don’t avoid the dance off this week.

What the judges thought: Bruno said: “King Charles the First of Samba! When you were dancing with the guys, indistinguishable from the professionals.”

Craig said: “It reminded me of my pool parties in Hampshire. I really liked it.”

Score: 38 – so impressive it reduced Karen to tears.

Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell

Dance: Quickstep to Dancin’ Fool from Copacabana

What we thought: Joe tends to look either incredible or incredibly awkward depending on the dance, and luckily this time it was the former.

He was so convincing in character tonight, and his Gran couldn’t have looked prouder.

What the judges thought: Darcey said: “That was a grand performance, a classic Quickstep, images of Fred Astaire all the way through.”

Shirley said: “Even though the music was a tad slow, you stayed exactly with it. You were outstanding.”

Score: 38

Ashley Roberts and Pasha Kovalev

Dance: Jive to Shake Ya Tail Feather from The Blues Brothers

What we thought: Watching Ashley and Pasha each week has started to feel more like an extra pro dance in amongst the celebs.

All the criticism about her dance experience aside, that was absolutely faultless and totally deserved full marks. They pulled a table cloth from under her feet while she was dancing!

What the judges thought: Bruno said: “It always happens, from the first time we came here – remember Jill Halfpenny – there are some performances that just become part of Strictly history.”

Craig said: “Fab-u-lous.”

Score: 40

Strictly Come Dancing’s  results show airs on Sunday at 7.20pm on BBC One.

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