Belfast Telegraph

Alexandra Burke brings emotional start to Strictly Come Dancing

The singer shot to the top of the leaderboard with her heartfelt waltz.

Alexandra Burke brought an emotional start to this year’s Strictly Come Dancing competition as she took to the stage just days after the death of her mother.

The singer burst into tears after her passionate performance of a waltz to Aretha Franklin’s (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman with partner Gorka Marquez.

She scored a five, two sixes and a seven for the impressive performance, earning her the highest position on the leaderboard so far and enviable praise from new head judge Shirley Ballas, who labelled her a “front-runner” in the contest.

Her act came just days after she shared the news of Melissa Bell’s death on the day the Strictly stars filmed the show’s launch programme.

Burke, 29, has since told how she will be taking part in the show in memory of her mother, whom she fondly remembered as her “biggest critic”.

Saturday night’s episode of the BBC One show saw this year’s fresh 15 couples perform for the very first time.

Soap star Gemma Atkinson and Aljaz Skorjanec opened the show with a “cheeky” cha-cha, while TV’s Brian Conley donned some sparkling red dance shoes for his tango with partner Amy Dowden.

He told how one of the biggest challenges of the show so far had been to train himself not to laugh while performing, but he still brought a comical side to the show, with fans comparing him to last year’s viewer favourite, Ed Balls.

Holby City star Chizzy Akudolu brought a hint of her day job to her performance as she dressed up as a heart surgeon for her cha-cha with partner Pasha Kovalev.

But as the leaderboard begins to build, there will be no eliminations this week and the judges’ scores will carry over to next weekend.

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