yler West has said his experience on Strictly Come Dancing has given him confidence and a “new-found family” as he became the eighth contestant to leave the show after a competitive weekend in Blackpool.
Following Saturday’s live show, which saw the BBC competition return to the town’s prestigious Tower Ballroom for the first time since 2019 after a break due to the pandemic, the Kiss FM DJ found himself in the dreaded dance-off against Molly Rainford.
During the results show, West reprised his salsa to Megamix by KC and The Sunshine Band alongside his partner Dianne Buswell in a bid to impress the judges.
For his original routine on Saturday, he secured a score of 35 after grooving and performing challenging lifts while donning an afro wig and flared trousers.
Meanwhile, singer and actress Rainford and her partner Carlos Gu again performed their jive to Bandstand Boogie by Barry Manilow, which had also achieved 35 points previously and Anton Du Beke had described it as “tremendous”.
After both couples had danced for a second time, three out of the four judges chose to save Rainford, sending West packing.
Craig Revel Horwood said he felt both couples danced “so much better” and that for the first time this series he was finding it difficult to choose, but he finally opted to save Rainford and Gu.
Motsi Mabuse agreed the second performances were better but said she was basing her decision to save Rainford and Gu on technique styles and presentation.
Du Beke said he felt both couples could have “easily made the final” but chose to save West and Buswell as he felt they were “more dynamic”.
Head judge Shirley Ballas had the deciding vote, noting “this is probably one of the most difficult dance-offs that we’ve ever had to choose”.
In the end, her vote went to save Rainford and Gu, explaining: “Both couples were outstanding, both improved their performances but I am going to go with what I believe in, and that is a quality of movement and precision in partnering.”
Last weekend, West had also found himself in the dance-off but he had been given a free pass through after former England footballer Tony Adams was forced to withdraw with an injury.
Reflecting on his time on the show, West said: “I’m more than a two-step now! When you watch the show at home, you wonder what it must be like to dance on it, it’s everything and more, it’s changed my life.
“This girl here has changed my life, for sure. To think I was some shy kid who never used to talk to anyone, to dancing in front of millions, I can’t put it into words.
“It’s my mum’s favourite show, I bought her to Blackpool, my nan, bless her, was always watching over me on this journey.
“But, more importantly, this show has changed my life in the sense it’s given me confidence, a new-found family, every dancer, everyone in hair and make-up, costume.
“The judges, it’s been amazing to dance in front of you every week, I genuinely mean that.
Turning to Buswell, he added: “This girl here, I have been blessed with the best, she is what Strictly is about and she’s changed my life, I have no doubt she will be in in my life forever.”
Buswell also praised her partner, describing him as an “absolute joy to work with”, adding: “You have come in every single session with the biggest smile on your face and it lights up this whole ballroom.
“You are such a talent, you really are, and you should feel so proud, I am so proud of you, your family are so proud and your nan is so proud of you. Thank you so much for everything.”
Sunday’s results show also opened with a performance from Eurovision runner-up Sam Ryder, who sang John Farnham’s You’re the Voice alongside all of the Strictly professionals in an elegant ballroom number, and later he performed his latest single, All the Way Over.
The return to Blackpool proved to be a special show as singer and radio DJ Fleur East secured the first perfect 40 of the 2022 series after channelling her inner Destiny’s Child.
The remaining seven couples will take to the dancefloor next week when Strictly Come Dancing returns on Saturday November 26 at 7.15pm, with the results show on Sunday November 27 at 6pm on BBC One.