ACTRESS Lisa Riley broke down in tears last night after being voted off Strictly Come Dancing as the line-up of celebrities in this year’s final was revealed.
The ex-Emmerdale star lost out in the dance-off to former favourite Denise van Outen, who finished in the bottom two for the second week running, despite achieving the second highest score from the judges.
Both contestants received the lowest points totals after last night’s judges’ scores were combined with the results of the viewers’ votes.
They performed their highest-scoring routines, with Riley and partner Robin Windsor dancing the American smooth to All That Jazz from the musical Chicago, and van Outen and James Jordan dancing the tango to Roxanne by The Police. Both pairs received standing ovations from the audience.
Judge Craig Revel Horwood chose to save vVan Outen and Jordan, saying: “Purely based on technique, Denise and James.”
Darcey Bussell agreed with Revel Horwood as she added: “This is so hard, but yes, technically, the ones I’m going to save are Denise and James.”
Bruno said: “First I have to say you’ve both done so well to come this far, great dancing, great entertainment, but I have to go for the best dance, and that was delivered by Denise and James.”
The unanimous vote meant Riley became the tenth celebrity to exit the competition, leaving van Outen, gymnast Louis Smith, Girl Aloud star Kimberley Walsh and actress Dani Harmer as the celebrities battling it out for the glitterball trophy in Saturday’s final.
Riley wept as she received a standing ovation from the judges and the studio audience.
“It’s been the best time of my entire life, I can’t thank you enough,” she said.
“From the costume to the makeup, everybody backstage is just beyond belief, and all the judges. I’ve had the time of my life.
“And one person has made that and that’s Robin Windsor. He has just been amazing.
“What you don’t all know is having me as a partner is a really, really tough ask and every week, week in week out he’s done it–and he’s helped me through one of the toughest times of my life. I owe every inch of Strictly to him. He’s just amazing.”
Fighting back tears, Windsor said: “I just want to say from day one this whole experience this year has been absolutely amazing, and Lisa has come out and shown you don’t have to be a certain size to dance, and she’s inspired so many people around the country. She is one of the loveliest, nicest people I’ve ever met.”
Last night’s show also included a performance from opera singer Katherine Jenkins, before she danced the jive with her partner, Mark Ballas, from the US-version, Dancing With The Stars.
The final will be shown on BBC One next Saturday at 7pm, with the results show at 9.10pm.