Belfast Telegraph

EastEnders star Wood exits Strictly

EastEnders star Jake Wood has made a shock semi-final exit from Strictly Come Dancing.

The soap actor, a former favourite to win the series, paid the price for two nervous performances on Saturday, losing a tight dance-off against fomrer The Only Way Is Essex star Mark Wright.

The judges were tied between the two pairings, leaving head judge Len Goodman to cast his deciding vote and eliminate Jake and partner Janette Manrara from the competition.

Jake, who plays love rat Max Branning in the BBC soap, said: "It's a huge disappointment to go out in the semi-finals but for a 42-year-old dad of two, who's never danced before, Janette has worked wonders. It's been a real privilege to watch her work and she's so passionate about what she does that it's infectious.

"I'd like to thank all the people at home who voted - it's just meant the world. And I'd like to thank my wife Alison and my two children Amber and Buster as well. Without their support I couldn't have done this."

Jake's lacklustre Cha Cha and Viennese Waltz in Saturday's double-dance night saw him move from a pre-show favourite to the bottom of the leaderboard.

He opted to go with his Cha Cha to Boogie Shoes by KC And The Sunshine Band in the dance-off, while Mark and pro partner Karen Hauer went with their Rumba to Eva Cassidy's version of Fields Of Gold.

After Craig Revel Horwood backed Mark, Darcey Bussell and Bruno Tonioli opted to keep Jake in the show. This left Len to use his casting vote and agree with Craig to send Walford's finest packing.

Len said: "This is very difficult. The Cha Cha had little Cha Cha content and the Rumba had little Rumba content so in that respect it's a very level playing field.

"One was totally performance driven, the other was more about artistry and this is for me the toughest of all but I'm going to save Mark and Karen."

Caroline Flack is the favourite to win next week's final, after her steamy Salsa landed the first perfect 40 score of the series.

A maximum 10 from each judge for the second of her two dances with Pasha Kovalev saw the 34-year-old television presenter top the leaderboard as the audience - and social media - went wild.

The four finalist couples face a gruelling week, as they will have to perform up to three dances in the final - their favourite from the series, a show dance and another chosen by the judges - which will be split across two BBC One shows on Saturday night.

The first show will see them perform two dances. One couple will be eliminated at the start of the live second show, with the three remaining couples then performing one final dance before the winner is revealed.

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