Laura Whitmore has become the seventh celebrity to leave Strictly Come Dancing 2016.
The Irish TV presenter faced Ore Oduba in one of the most unexpected dance-offs of the series so far, performing the Samba to Bamboleo by Gipsy Kings.
But while the judges praised Laura and partner Giovanni Pernice for performing “exceptionally well”, they unanimously chose to save Ore and Joanne Clifton after their Salsa to Turn The Beat Around by Vicki Sue Robinson.
Judge Craig Revel Horwood explained: “One couple danced the best I’ve ever seen them dance and I think was probably their personal best; but for me, the dance of the night and who I would like to save was Ore and Joanne.”
Darcey Bussell added: “I think both couples danced exceptionally well tonight and it makes it very difficult but I’d like to save the couple that I believe and know performed their best, a finished performance, was Ore and Joanne.”
Bruno Tonioli had some words of advice for those disappointed to see Ore and Laura in the dance-off: don’t moan if you didn’t vote.
“First off, let me say this wasn’t a dance off, it was a dance treat,” he said. “You both danced with such vibrancy, energy and entertainment value, it’s like splitting hairs here.
“We didn’t put you there, if you didn’t vote, don’t moan.
“But I have to pick one out of the two that in a way outshone everyone else, and that couple was Ore and Joanne.”
Head judge Len Goodman said he would also have opted to save Ore.
An emotional Laura was upbeat about the vote, telling Tess Daly: “I don’t think anyone realises how much goes on here, the make-up, the costume, everything and just to be part of that for a little while is amazing. And if I’m going to go against anyone then, Ore, I mean… I’m ok.”
It was a surprise to see Ore in the dance-off after his top-scoring jive in week four earned him a spot in Strictly history. The BBC sports presenter had also been joint third on the leaderboard, compared to Laura who was second from last.
Giovanni praised his celebrity partner for her attitude, saying: “I would like to say again thank you for being such a great partner, an amazing person to work with, you teach me a lot and I will never ever forget this journey.”
Laura’s Strictly journey has been full of highs and lows. In week three she narrowly avoided elimination after ending up in the dance-off, and then she was hit by a nasty ankle injury in week five and never got a chance to perform her jive.
But only last week her Halloween Tango earned her four nines, putting her joint top of the leaderboard.
When it comes to Strictly, you’re only as good as your last dance…
Laura Whitmore and Giovanni Pernice will be joining Zoe Ball on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two on Monday 7th November at 6.30pm on BBC2