Denise Van Outen overcame her whiplash injuries to top the judges’ scoreboard on Saturday’s Strictly Come Dancing as the 14 couples made their first bid to avoid elimination.
The actress and TV presenter – who underwent medical treatment in order to be fit enough to appear on the show – scored an impressive 32 points out of 40 for her jive with James Jordan – the highest score so far this series.
And the pair were so thrilled by the reaction that they even kissed Craig Revel Horwood, who praised their dance with his trademark catchphrase of “Fab-u-lous.”
Len Goodman also praised the couple, saying, “Last week I was disappointed, this week I was delighted.”
The score also left Denise joint top of the combined scoreboard – which also took into account the judges’ scores from last weekend’s show – along with Louis Smith, whose Viennese Waltz with Flavia Cacace was also highly praised.
Lisa Riley also attempted a Viennese Waltz, and while she didn’t top the heights of last weekend when she headed the judges’ scoreboard, she still fared well with 25 points.
“I thought you danced that with great dexterity,” Craig told her but warned, “The man should lead,” while Bruno Tonioli agreed, adding, “What I love about you is we always get full on entertainment.”
Meanwhile Dani Harmer and Sid Owen attempted salsas, with varying degrees of success – Dani scoring an impressive 27 points for her efforts with Vincent Simone, and Sid notching up 22 for his attempt with partner Ola Jordan, with Len saying, “It wasn’t so much Kingston, Jamaica as Kingston-Upon-Thames.”
And Victoria Pendleton, who got off to a rocky start on last weekend’s show after making a mistake during her cha cha cha, fared much better this time around, scoring 26 points for her foxtrot with partner Brendan Cole.
“It was a fantastic improvement on last week,” Len told her, while Bruno added, “Victoria, you’re back in the race.”
Elsehwere, Colin Salmon and Fern Britton tied on 24 points each, with Colin winning largely good reviews for his Viennese Waltz with Kristina Rihanoff, and Fern Britton also pleasing the judges as she and partner Arten Chigvintsev performed a waltz.
Kimberley Walsh, meanwhile, saw a slight fall in her points from last week as she scored 26 for her foxtrot with Pasha Kovalev – while Johnny Ball, also performing a foxtrot with partner Iveta Lukosiute, saw an improvement in his fortunes as he scored 22 points.
“Whatever you do you do with enthusiasm and this is the same,” Len said. “Your posture could be better, your footwork could be cleaner but it had lots of content.” Bruno, meanwhile, called the dance “better than last week”.
Further down, Nicky Byrne, Jerry Hall and Michael Vaughan found themselves in the lower reaches of the scoreboard – with the first two each notching up 18 points, and Michael finishing bottom of the heap with just 15 points after failing to impress the judges with his jive.
“That has to be one of the oddest jives I’ve ever witnessed,” Craig told him and partner Natalie Lowe, while Bruno added, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen such bad footwork.”
He was even more cutrting about Jerry’s effort, saying, “It looked like Anton was dancing with Mr Burns from The Simpsons…the last time I saw posture like that was last summer on a praying mantis.”
The first couple will be eliminated during Sunday night’s results’ show.