Strictly Come Dancing debutante Austin Healey compared his first experience on the show to playing rugby with concussion.

The former England international came top of the leader board in Saturday night’s first live show after he waltzed with partner Erin Boag.

But despite looking graceful on the dance floor Austin admitted he was terrified. “It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my entire life. It was bizarre actually – I can only akin it to playing rugby when you’ve got concussion, because there’s nothing in your head, you’re just going by pure instinct,” he said.

Austin, who received a score of nine out of 10 from Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman, added: “But much like many things in life once you’ve done it once, you want to do it again and do it better. That’s going to be difficult – we’ve just got to get some hard work done to do that.”

The first celebrity to be booted off the show was actor Phil Daniels. He and partner Flavia Cacace were in the bottom two and had to dance off against Don Warrington and Lilia Kopylova.

Austin commented: “I was surprised at who left the show. He’s a very good guy, as all the guys are, and it becomes suddenly real when you’re on those stairs.

“Everyone is so into the show that you feel for that person, whether it’s you or someone else. I suppose last night it really did become a competition, not to be taken out of the show.”