Jason Donovan has emerged as an early favourite in Strictly Come Dancing as the second set of couples took to the dancefloor for the first time on Saturday night’s show.
The former Neighbours star wowed the judges – and vaulted to the top of the scoreboard with 32 points – following his energetic cha cha cha with partner Kristina Rihanoff.
“You don’t need me to tell you, the audience told you, that was fantastic,” Len Goodman told Jason – and even Craig Revel Horwood agreed. “From one Australian to another,” he said, “that was bonza.”
Others who made a good impression included McFly drummer Harry Judd – former winner of the Children In Need Strictly special – who did well with his opening cha cha cha with partner Aliona Vilani.
“Harry, I think you’re wasted behind the drums because you look really at home on the dancefloor,” Alesha Dixon said, while Bruno Tonioli said he had given a “fit, muscular performance, full of confidence”.
Rory Bremner also fared well, scoring 27 for his waltz with Erin Boag – although his fixed grin divided opinion among the judges.
Alesha told the impressionist she “loved the facial expressions” although Bruno was not so keen. “It looked like you’d overdone it with the Botox,” he complained.
And Waterloo Road star Chelsee Healey also made a good first showing, taking to the dancefloor to perform a waltz with show newcomer Pasha Kovalev.
“You do something that is very very special,” Bruno told the actress, while Alesha added, “I’m sure you’re out of your comfort zone with doing something like this but you placed it really really well.”
However One Show presenter Alex Jones received a mixed response for her cha cha cha – with dance partner James Jordan leaping to her defence after Craig described the routine as “incongruous”.
“Do you realise these celebrities it’s their first week on the show,” he said, “We work with them all the time and some of the celebrities from yesterday are slightly disheartened, You should be a little bit nicer.”
And Edwina Currie and Nancy dell’Olio found themselves at the bottom of the heap – the former scoring 17 points for her tongue-in-cheek cha cha cha with partner Vincent Simone, the latter coming unstuck during her waltz with Anton du Beke when her feather boa fell off and became tangled in her feet.
“A bit flat-footed and messy but fun,” Bruno said of Edwina’s routine, while Alesha said that the former MP displayed “quite a bit of rhythm” – although it made no difference to her score.
Nancy, meanwhile, fell foul of the judges after Bruno said the Italian “looked like a curtain stuck on spin cycle”, although Len offered some words of encouragement. “The actual dancing was good…this lady can dance!”
Next weekend will see all 14 couples perform either a salsa or a foxtrot, with the first elimination taking place on Sunday night.