‘Extraordinary’ Claudia Fragapane loses Strictly Come Dancing semi-final dance-off to Danny Mac

Olympic gymnast Claudia Fragapane and her professional partner AJ Pritchard exit the Strictly Come Dancing contest in the last dance-off of the series

In something of a shock result, Olympic gymnast Claudia Fragapane and partner AJ Pritchard faced actor Danny Mac and Oti Mabuse in the Strictly Come Dancing semi-final dance-off after many expected both couples to be in the final.

It was less of a surprise when Claudia lost the dance-off and became the 12th contestant to exit the contest, as Danny has been a judges’ favourite since the start of the competition.

All four remaining couples performed two routines in Saturday night’s semi-final and, when it came to the dance-off, the two couples had to perform one of their routines once more in a bid to impress the judges and remain in the competition.

Claudia and AJ chose their quickstep to ‘When You’re Smiling’ by Andy Williams and Danny and Oti chose to perform their American smooth to ‘Misty Blue’ by Dorothy Moore.

“Your footwork was extraordinary, you never missed a beat,” Bruno Tonioli told Claudia after her performance on Saturday.

It wasn’t extraordinary enough to beat Danny, though.

Judges Bruno, Len Goodman, Darcey Bussell and Craig Revel Horwood were unanimous in their vote to save Danny.

But it was a tough decision, perhaps made slightly easier by that jaw-dropping catch of Oti that Danny made at the end of their routine.

“Well, both couples in that dance-off were worth 10s equally so it is so difficult, but I would really like to save Danny and Oti,” said Craig.

“Both performed to such an outstanding level tonight and it makes it very hard to choose but the couple that had a small edge over the other were Danny and Oti,” Darcey said.

Bruno added: “You were both excellent but I have to go with the couple that had an edge in artistry and emotional impact and for that reason I choose Danny and Oti.”

A tearful Claudia said: “I’m just so happy that I’ve made it this far and everyone has just been incredible. I feel like a different person now, all thanks to this show.

strictly come dancing, claudia fragapane

Claudia and AJ couldn’t hold back the tears as they made their Strictly exit

“You have been amazing,” Claudia told AJ. “You really have pushed me and you’ve really boosted my confidence.”

“And I’m so proud of how far you’ve come,” AJ responded.

So, the Strictly final is between Louise Redknapp and Kevin Clifton, Danny and Oti and Ore Oduba and Joanne Clifton.

Claudia and AJ will be joining Zoë Ball for their first exclusive televised interview live on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two on BBC2, Monday, December 12, 6.30pm.

Strictly Come Dancing – The Final will be live on BBC1, Saturday, December 17, 6.40pm.

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