Ricky Groves has become the latest casualty of Strictly Come Dancing, finally losing out after his third consecutive dance-off.

In previous weeks the former EastEnders star had seen off competition from Phil Tufnell and Craig Kelly – but his luck finally ran out when faced with Laila Rouass and Anton du Beke in the bottom two.

After he and Erin Boag had reprised their tango and Rouass and du Beke had performed their waltz once again, the judges voted unanimously to save the latter.

Groves said afterwards he had “had a wonderful time”.

“I’ve loved being here,” he said. “I’ve met Rod Stewart, I’ve met Shirley Bassey and most of all I’ve met Erin Boag.”

Earlier in the show Groves had been criticised by the judges after making errors during his routine.

“It ended up very very badly,” said Bruno Tonioli of the routine, “but there’s nothing you can do about that.”

However Craig Revel Horwood was more critical, calling the performance “sterile”.

And Groves, it seemed, had already guessed his time in the show was hanging in the balance.

“It’s a dance competition,” he said to the judges, “and you make mistakes. If it’s my time to go then so be it.”

It was also a rough night for Natalie Cassidy and Vincent Simone, whose samba was described by Len as “like a garden with no flowers” – but the other remaining couples fared well, including Rouass who struggled last week after spraining her ankle.

“I don’t think it was your best dance,” Craig told her, “but I have to say it was a miraculous recovery”.

And the two favourites, Ali Bastian and Ricky Whittle, continued to go from strength to strength. The latter scoring full marks from Alesha Dixon for an American Smooth that featured him lifting his partner Natalie Lowe in spectacular fashion.

“For Natalie to allow you to lift her like that shows how much she trusts you,” Dixon told him, “It was a showstopper.”

Five couples now remain in the competition, following Jade Johnson’s decision to quit the show due to injury.

Next week they will perform either a rock n’roll or a Charleston routine – the first time either dance has been performed on the show.