Richard Arnold out as Strictly steps up pressure on X Factor

Erin Boag  and Richard Arnold were beaten by Karen Hauer and Nicky Byrne. Picture: PA
Erin Boag and Richard Arnold were beaten by Karen Hauer and Nicky Byrne. Picture: PA
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SCOTTISH star Richard Arnold failed to dazzle viewers with his sequin-studded salsa and became the latest celebrity voted off Strictly Come Dancing last night.

The BBC show continued to win the viewer ratings battle at the weekend, drawing in almost two million more viewers than its ITV rival The X Factor.

Arnold was all smiles as he exited the show, saying he would miss the colourful costumes and Erin Boag, his dance partner.

The couple’s up-beat salsa to Wham’s Club Tropicana failed to wow viewers and they ended up in the dance-off with Westlife’s Nicky Byrne and his partner Karen Hauer.

Three judges voted to save the Irish singer in last night’s dance off at London’s Wembley Arena, leaving Arnold, who grew up in Inverurie, to say goodbye.

Judge Bruno Tonioli said that while both couples were “highly entertaining”, he had to go with the “power and content” delivered by Byrne and Hauer.

Arnold, 42, who gained a MA in English language and literature at Edinburgh University, said: “The one thing I’ll take from it is that now when I walk down the street, people no longer cross the road to avoid me. Now they smile, they want to chat. It’s been amazing. You guys here have been amazing.”

The TV showbiz correspondent added: “It’s extraordinary, this show just gets better and better. I always thought I’d miss the wardrobe most, but I don’t think I will, I will miss Erin Boag.”

The presenter said he will be celebrating his birthday next weekend, but will have to accept he will not be ringing in another year by performing to millions on television.

“I know where I’ll be next week – it’s my birthday, it’s a Saturday, I’ll be with my godchildren, with my family and friends who have been going through the whole thing, and I’ll be popping a cork and seeing who is here next week.”

An average of 10.3 million viewers tuned in to see the BBC show as Denise Van Outen dazzled judges with her Charleston, which scored perfect ten scores from Len Goodman, Darcey Bussell and Tonioli.

The X Factor drew 8.4 million viewers on ITV1 (including the audience of its +1 catch-up channel), which is down 2.3 million compared to this stage in 2011.

The figures provide even grimmer reading for ITV bosses when compared with 2010 – the last series to feature show boss Simon Cowell.

The show is nearly five million viewers down on the equivalent stage in the competition two years ago, when it pulled in 13.2 million viewers, even without +1 viewers. It means Saturday’s show has lost more than a third of its audience (36 per cent) at this stage of the series.

But viewers for Strictly, which was broadcast from Wembley Arena on Saturday night in front of an audience of 6,000 people, were 100,000 down on the previous week.

Gymnast Louis Smith, 23, is the favourite to clinch this year’s Strictly crown, followed by TV presenter and West End star Denise Van Outen and Girls Aloud’s Kimberley Walsh.

Bookmaker William Hill has reported its biggest ever flutter on the dance contest as one punter put a £10,000 stake on Smith, at a price of 10/11.

Arnold had been joint bottom of the judge’s leader board on Saturday, along with Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton and her partner Brendan Cole.