Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Jacklin is first to exit Strictly

Aliona Vilani and Tony Jacklin performing during rehearsals for the BBC programme Stictly Come Dancing. Guy Levy/BBC/PA Wire
Aliona Vilani and Tony Jacklin performing during rehearsals for the BBC programme Stictly Come Dancing. Guy Levy/BBC/PA Wire
Tony Jacklin and his dance partner Aliona Vilani are the first couple to leave this year's Strictly Come Dancing

Golf legend Tony Jacklin has become the first celebrity to exit Strictly Come Dancing 2013 after his Charleston routine was judged below par.

Jacklin and professional partner Aliona Vilani, and fashion designer Julien Macdonald and his partner Janette Manrara, were the first two couples to face a "dance-off" on the hit BBC One show.

They were selected as the lowest scoring of the 15 celebrity couples taking part in the series - after combining judges' marks from performances last weekend and last night along with the results of viewers' votes.

Jacklin - who came joint bottom on the Strictly leaderboard last weekend and bottom last night - performed a golf-themed Charleston again to It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing) by Chantz.

But Strictly judges Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell and Bruno Tonioli all chose to save Macdonald and Manrara, who danced the Tango to Applause by Lady Gaga.

Head Judge Len Goodman said: "Tony you've been one of my golfing heroes all of my life, sadly I have to say I would have gone with Julien and Janette, but you're still one of my heroes."

Speaking after he exited the show, 69-year-old Jacklin, described as the most successful British golf player of his generation, confessed to feeling "petrified" on Saturday before going on stage to perform the Charleston.

"It was a very, very intimidating situation going on stage in front of 10 million people - I felt like running away half an hour before going on last night but there was security all over the place," he joked.

"That's the feeling you get, you are just completely petrified."

But he said the experience had been "very positive" and he had no regrets about taking part in Strictly.

"I did not want to be the first one out. I gave it my best shot but it was not good enough, so you have to take your punishment, if you like, but overall, it was a very positive experience and I shall look back and think 'well I am glad I did that'," he said.

"If I put my hand on my heart, it was hard work, it was exhausting but I am very, very glad I did it.

"I did give it my best. I appreciated what those pros go through and their expertise and their dedication - and meeting all the other celebrities.

"It was a wonderful time and a wonderful few weeks."

Last night's show saw singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor, dressed in a 1920s-style gold tasselled Flapper dress, score four nines from the judges after performing the Charleston with dance partner Brendan Cole.

But Jacklin, who is originally from Scunthorpe in North Lincolnshire, came under fire for his Charleston routine, in which he used a golf club as a prop and wore a bright diamond-patterned golfing style top with plus fours and diamond patterned socks.

Tonioli remarked: "The most exciting thing in that was the jumper," and Revel Horwood added: "The Charleston should be lively, energetic, frenetic. Unfortunately yours was limp, lame and lacklustre."

But Goodman defended him, saying: "You have only been dancing for about five weeks... I've been golfing for 50 years and I am still terrible.

"You are the same age as me, at 69 to come out and dance a very energetic dance, I commend you for that."

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