Strictly Come Dancing’s Bruno Tonioli may have declared that “Gene Kelly himself would be proud” after Ore Oduba and Joanne Clifton splashed their way to success with an American Smooth to Singin’ In The Rain, but the real seal of approval has come from the late film star’s widow.
Patricia Ward Kelly shared the tribute to her husband, who died in 1996 at the age of 83, and praised Ore and Jo for their take on the iconic scene.
She told RadioTimes.com: “I thought it was a beautiful tribute to Gene. He never wanted people to imitate his work. He wanted them to take what he did and create something new. Ore Oduba and Joanne Clifton did this with grace and style.
“Gene always said that the point of his Singin’ in the Rain number was to bring joy. Oduba and Clifton achieved this in their own way. It made me smile to know that Gene is still very much present and ‘alive’ in the hearts and minds of very talented young people.”
The Strictly couple scored an impressive 35 points with their dance, which starred Ore as Gene’s silent movie star Don Lockwood and Jo as Debbie Reynolds’ love interest Kathy Selden in her yellow raincoat.
After Len Goodman said he was “astounded how good that was”, Ore collapsed into tears.
Luckily, the cast rallied around to give him a good hug.