Actor Nigel Harman has topped the Strictly Come Dancing leaderboard after closing out the first live show of 2023 with a dramatic paso doble.
Dressed as a circus ringmaster, the former EastEnders star finished his fierce routine to Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana by swirling a cape, landing him an impressive score of 32.
Harman, 50, and his professional partner Katya Jones were among the 15 pairings who took to the dancefloor for the first time on Saturday evening.
Judge Craig Revel Horwood praised it as “the dance of the night” while head judge Shirley Ballas hailed him as “the one to beat”.
Anton Du Beke noted how challenging it is to wait until the end of the show to perform as he said Harman “stole the night”.
EastEnders star Bobby Brazier, Bad Education’s Layton Williams, Sherlock actress Amanda Abbington and former Coronation Street actress Ellie Leach all came in joint second with a score of 29.
Brazier glided his way to the high score with his partner Dianne Buswell with their foxtrot to All About You by McFly.
After their routine, which saw them rolling on the ground and delivering quick footwork, Ballas said the actor’s energy was “absolutely endearing”.
Leach impressed the judges with her electric jive to Can’t Tame Her by Zara Larsson alongside her partner Vito Coppola, opening the routine by dramatically swinging her ponytail.
Revel Horwood said she was an “incredible dancer”, noting how “sharp” and “precise” the routine was.
Meanwhile, Williams and Nikita Kuzmin delivered a sensual samba to Touch by Little Mix.
The series’ only same-sex couple wore black sparkly outfits for their dramatic routine which Du Beke described as “magnificent”, although he told Williams to practise his footwork.
Abbington and Giovanni Pernice delivered a graceful Viennese waltz to Pointless by Lewis Capaldi, with Ballas praising their “beautiful chemistry”.
Veteran broadcaster Angela Rippon, 78, showed off her famous flexibility during her dramatic cha cha by ending the routine to Get The Party Started by Dame Shirley Bassey with an impressive high kick, landing her a score of 28.
Revel Horwood described the routine with her partner Kai Widdrington as “jaw-dropping”.
Former tennis player Annabel Croft also scored 28 points with her cha cha performance to Uptown Girl by Billy Joel.
Her routine with dancer Johannes Radebe harked back to her tennis roots as they wore all-white outfits and ended the routine by lifting a trophy.
Irish TV presenter Angela Scanlon and her partner Carlos Gu secured a score of 23 with their dramatic tango to Prisoner by Miley Cyrus featuring Dua Lipa.
Comedian Eddie Kadi and his partner Karen Hauer’s quickstep and Channel 4 News presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy and his partner Lauren Oakley’s cha cha both secured 22 points.
Revel Horwood admitted he would not be able to watch Guru-Murthy present the news again without imagining him shimmying on the dancefloor, adding: “I thought you did a great job.”
Paralympian Jody Cundy and Jowita Przystal scored 21 points for their elegant quickstep, with Ballas praising his frame.
Reality star Zara McDermott and her partner Graziano Di Prima and Waterloo Road’s Adam Thomas and his partner Luba Mushtuk both received 19 points for their lively cha cha performances.
Radio presenter Nikita Kanda and Gorka Marquez took home a score of 18 for their elegant waltz while former Family Fortunes host Les Dennis and his partner Nancy Xu placed last with a score of 16 for their tango to Don’t You Want Me by the Human League.
Revel Horwood noted that it seemed like Dennis’s feet were “stuck to the floor with Velcro”, but added that he “gave it a good go and that’s what it’s all about”.
Saturday’s live show opened with a dramatic performance by the professional dancers set to Everybody Wants To Rule The World by Tears For Fears.
The routine opened with a number of the dancers performing at a scenic, coastal viewpoint before the scene moved to the Strictly dancefloor, where the rest of the professionals joined the performance.
Strictly Come Dancing was live on Saturday from 6.15pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.
Published: by Radio NewsHub