Strictly Come Dancing’s shock casualty revealed
Head judge Shirley Ballas had the final, casting vote.
Strictly Come Dancing favourite Aston Merrygold has become the sixth star to get the boot in one of the show’s biggest shock departures.
The 29-year-old, who was tipped as one of the favourites to win, made his exit, after judge Shirley Ballas had the final, casting vote, following a dance off with Mollie King.
Dance partner Janette Manrara praised the ex-JLS star as “one of the most talented individuals I have ever met”.
Merrygold usually found himself near the top of the leaderboard until Saturday’s Viennese Waltz failed to impress the judging panel.
On Sunday’s show, judges Darcey Bussell and Bruno Tonioli opted to save Merrygold and Manrara after both couples performed their dances again.
Bussell said that the duo put on a “more assured performance” while Tonioli told the couple that they had “transformed their performance” and it had “much more power, much more impact” than on Saturday night, “it flowed”.
Craig Revel Horwood, who shocked viewers on Saturday night when he gave Merrygold a four, wanted to save King and her dance partner AJ Pritchard.
“Based purely on technique for me, the better dance of the evening goes to Mollie and AJ,” he said.
Delivering her verdict with the final, casting vote, head judge Ballas saved The Saturdays’ singer King, saying it was a “very difficult choice”.
“Two fantastic couples and it’s very difficult to do,” she said.
“On technical accuracy, beautiful flow and full engagement during the dance, I’m saving Mollie and AJ.”
Father-to-be Merrygold said he had enjoyed “every second” of the experience.
“Everything, from this lady to every single person in here, these four judges… all you amazing lot up there that I get to see and spend so much time with, I’ve made some amazing friends and honestly I’ve had the best time, it’s been amazing,” he said.
Manrara told her dance partner that “I don’t think that I am ever going to have the opportunity to dance with someone like you again, someone who is so talented, so lovely, such a good friend”.
The dancer added: “He is one of the most talented individuals I have ever met.
“You have so much to offer to the world of entertainment and I hope that this is just a small pebble to what you’re going to bring the world because you are amazing.”
Merrygold and Manrara had a score of just 25 at the end of Saturday night’s show, putting them only one place above Ruth Langsford and Anton Du Beke, who were at the bottom of the leaderboard.