The three remaining couples in Strictly Come Dancing have made their bid for next week’s final with two routines each.

The trio – Chris Hollins, Ali Bastian and Ricky Whittle – performed their favourite routine from earlier in the series, as well as tackling the Argentine Tango.

First to perform was Hollins, who reprised his rumba with professional partner Ola Jordan – but although most of the judges liked it, Craig Revel Horwood wasn’t so keen.

“I see no real improvement from week one,” he said. “The emotion was fantastic but it was ruined by those hands of yours.”

However Len Goodman disagreed. “If it was all down to entertainment, hard work and dedication you would top the leader board every week,” he insisted.

The pair fared better with their Argentine Tango in round two. “The trout mouth is back,” Revel Horwood said of Hollins’ facial expressions, “but I’m starting to find it quite endearing.”

Ali and Brian, meanwhile, chose to perform their Argentine Tango first, with the judges complaining that nerves got in the way of the Bill star’s dancing. “But otherwise I thought it was great,” Alesha Dixon told her.

And they also did well with a reprise of the American Smooth that won them full marks earlier in the series. “I loved your American Smooth the first time I saw it,” Goodman, said, “this is better.”

Finally Ricky Whittle rounded off the first half of the show with a waltz which Bruno Tonioli described as “fabulous”. And Revel Horwood agreed. “Your phrasing is exceptional,” he said.

However, it was their Argentine Tango which cemented their place at the top of the leader board, dropping just one point out of a possible 50.

“I couldn’t tell that you weren’t a professional dancer,” Bussell told him, while Dixon said the dance was “fantastic”.

The results – and the two finalists – will be revealed later on Saturday evening.