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'Sensational' Gumede back on top

Former Coronation Street star Natalie Gumede has put her back problems behind her to secure the joint top score of Strictly Come Dancing.

The favourite to win was awarded 39 out of a possible 40 points with BBC Breakfast presenter Susanna Reid.

Gumede, who missed last week's show after fainting twice in rehearsals and previously suffered a painful spinal injury , channelled the flapper look as she performed the Charleston in a short scarlet sequin dress with professional partner Artem Chigvintsev.

Head judge Len Goodman told her the performance was "spectacular" while Craig Revel Horwood said: "I loved the modern twist to the dance. I thought the whole thing was sensational."

Reid sank to the ground as her scores were read out and she got her first 10 of the competition, swiftly followed by two more.

Dressed in a red Spanish-style ruffled gown, she and partner Kevin Clifton, in a matador outfit, performed the Paso Doble.

Judge Darcey Bussell told her: "That was a very traditional Paso Doble, I loved it. You ate up that dance floor Susanna - the drama you gave, the dynamics."

Week eight of the competition was filmed at Blackpool's Tower Ballroom, giving it an "incredible" atmosphere, Sophie Ellis-Bextor said.

The singer, who was first up on the dancefloor, did the quickstep with Brendan Cole to Shirley Bassey's The Lady Is A Tramp for which she was awarded 34 points.

"It was absolutely spot on," Goodman said.

Bussell added: "Sophie, you came alive. It was so beautiful. I have to say it was a spirited and energetic dance, just what I wanted from you."

Also receiving high praise was former Casualty star Patrick Robinson, who performed the samba with Anya Garnis and was told by the judges he was one of the best male performers of the dance they had ever seen on the show.

Bruno Tonioli said: "T hat really was a blisteringly hot salsa. You captured the flavour so well. I felt like I was in Rio. Everything was close to perfection."

"You are a terrific dancer Patrick," Goodman added.

Model Abbey Clancy, with partner Aljaz Skorjanec, also impressed the judging panel with her quickstep in a flowing silver gown and got her first 10 of the series to score 37 points.

Bussell said: "For a tall leggy lady like you, you should know from last week to this week how well you handled these quickstep moves. It's extraordinary because it's not easy at all."

At the bottom of the scoreboard was actor Mark Benton and partner Iveta Lukosuite, who got 29 points for their jive, while former Bond Girl Fiona Fullerton got the same score for her American Smooth with Anton Du Beke, who was dressed as an airline pilot.

Goodman told her: "I thought the attitude was first class, the movement was a bit business class and the lift was a little bit economy."

But Bussell told former Waterloo Road star Benton that despite his technique lacking finesse, he had delivered a "show-stopping performance".

Tonioli added: "What you gave us is a fantastic fun ride that had the feelgood factor."

One of the couples will be voted off in tonight's show.


From Belfast Telegraph