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Widow's praise for Strictly's Ore Oduba like 'blessing from Gene Kelly himself'


Ore Oduba with his dance partner Joanne Clifton

Ore Oduba with his dance partner Joanne Clifton

Ore Oduba with his dance partner Joanne Clifton

Strictly Come Dancing contestant Ore Oduba has said that getting the thumbs up from Gene Kelly's widow for his American Smooth routine was as close as it comes to a blessing from the late star himself.

The BBC sports presenter and his professional partner on the show, Joanne Clifton, performed a take on the Kelly classic Singin' In The Rain for the movie week theme on Saturday night, which won rave reviews from judges and the audience - but none of the compliments meant more to them than Patricia Ward's.

Ward, who was married to Kelly from 1990 until his death in 1996, had said of the Strictly routine: "I thought it was a beautiful tribute to Gene. He never wanted people to imitate his work, he wanted them to take it and create something new. Ore Oduba and Joanne Clifton did this with grace and style."

Talking about what she had said on BBC Two Strictly spin-off show It Takes Two this evening, Oduba said: "It's the closest that you would get to a blessing from Gene Kelly himself and that's just unfathomable.

"And she's said she wants to meet us."

Both Oduba and Clifton admitted that the dance had made them emotional and Oduba added: "I haven't watched that since and not started welling up. In fact I haven't cried that much since my wedding day."

Meanwhile, Judge Rinder and his partner Oksana Platero told show host Zoe Ball that a few slip-ups in training had distracted them into making mistakes during their routine on the live show.

The pair danced a Flintstones-themed Charleston and Judge Rinder said: "We'd had a few crash and wallops before we did the final run.

"After that first trick when I caught [Oksana] there was a moment where I thought, 'You're alive!' and I was so relieved I forgot the step."

Talking about Judge Rinder fumbling a lift in training, Platero added: "I was never dropped before in my life."

Judges on Saturday night were impressed by a lift in which Judge Rinder turned Platero upside down and pretended to play the bongos on her bottom, and he said of the move: "The bum bongos hopefully will live in Strictly legend."

But talking about his Flintstones costume, which included a dark wig, he said: "I think I look like a mildly frightened Edwina Currie."