Belfast Telegraph

Alex Scott triumphs amid double injury shock on Strictly Come Dancing

Kevin Clifton stepped in to replace Jones with just 40 minutes practice.

Will Bayley and Neil Jones (BBC/PA)
Will Bayley and Neil Jones (BBC/PA)

By Alex Green, PA Entertainment Reporter

Both Will Bayley and Neil Jones missed Saturday night’s Strictly Come Dancing live show after suffering injuries in rehearsals.

Paralympian Bayley, 31, and his professional partner Janette Manrara, 35, failed to compete after he suffered a knee injury this week while jumping off a table during rehearsals.

And Kevin Clifton, 37, stepped in to dance with Alex Scott, 35, with only 40 minutes of practice after her regular partner, Jones, injured himself on Saturday morning.

Despite the setback, the football star earned 34 points, one of her highest scores yet.

Doctors said Bayley’s injury is less serious than first thought, but forbid him from dancing.

According to Strictly rules, the table tennis player, who has arthrogryposis (congenital joint contracture), got a bye and moved straight through to the next round.

In a pre-recorded video message, Bayley told viewers: “I jumped off a table and as I landed, I landed with straight legs. I thought I had broken my legs as I had never felt anything like it before. But luckily, it’s not as severe as what I thought when I first did (it).

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Janette Manrara and Will Bayley (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

“To hear the words that I absolutely can’t dance, it was just really gutting for me, but I need to recover now and come back even stronger next week.”

Manrara said Bayley was at home “taking care of himself, icing, resting and fingers crossed he comes back next week”.

A spokeswoman for the show said: “Sadly, Will Bayley was injured during training and medics have said he cannot dance in the show this weekend.

“Under the rules of Strictly Come Dancing, Will has been granted a bye to next week.

“Separately, Alex Scott’s partner Neil Jones received an injury whilst training this morning. Kevin Clifton has stepped in to partner Alex in tonight’s show.”

Clifton, who won last year’s series alongside Stacey Dooley, joked that he was happy to step in for Jones because it offered him a second chance to make the final.

Despite having less than an hour to practice together Scott and Clifton scored 34 points out of a possible 40 with a couples’ choice street/commercial routine to Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jr, dressed in the franchise’s famous boiler suits.

Clifton admitted to the judges that he made a few mistakes, but credited football star Scott with keeping the dance going.

Head judge Ballas praised Scott’s “mental ability” and said the performance was “completely on point”.

Tonioli said that, irrespective of her new partner, it had been her “best dance ever”.

Dooley, who is in a relationship with Clifton, revealed on Twitter that the professional dancer only had 40 minutes to learn the routine.

In a video, she said: “Yes Kev. That’s why you are the damn king. He had 40 minutes to learn that routine. I am so proud.”

Michelle Visage ended the night atop the leaderboard, scoring 39 after wowing the judges with a foxtrot to the Addams Family theme by composer Vic Mizzy, alongside her partner Gionvanni Pernice.

Alan Carr, who appears alongside Visage as a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, watched from the audience as the pair received a standing ovation.

Revel Horwood said he “absolutely loved it”, while Ballas said it was “superb” and her “favourite performance so far”.

One celebrity will be eliminated from the show during Sunday night’s knock-out episode.

Strictly Come Dancing continues on BBC One.

PA

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