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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Louis Chilton

Angela Rippon stuns Strictly viewers with high kick while making history as show’s oldest contestant

BBC/Guy Levy

Veteran presenter Angela Rippon stunned Strictly Come Dancing viewers with an energetic dance during week one of the new series.

The popular BBC One dance show returned for its 21st series earlier this month, with the first round taking place on Saturday 23 September.

At 78, Rippon is the oldest contestant to ever feature on the series – and her inaugural dance didn’t disappoint.

The former BBC News presenter danced the Cha Cha to the sounds of “Get the Party Started” by Shirley Bassey, alongside professional partner Kai Widdrington.

At the end of the dance, she executed a sensational high-kick, with her efforts drawing a standing ovation from the judging panel, comprised of Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Shirley Ballas and Anton DuBeke.

“That was jaw-dropping darling,” remarked the typically critical Horwood.

You can read more about Rippon’s life and career here, or you can find out about the rest of this year’s Strictly contestants here.

While Rippon’s performance was rewarded handsomely by the judges, she ended week one in joint second place on the leaderboard, thanks to a barnstorming final dance from actor Nigel Harman.

You can find the full leaderboard as it stands here.

Rippon’s limber Cha Cha Cha was far from the only highlight of Saturday’s episode.

Elsewhere on the programme, soap actor Bobby Brazier, the son of the late Jade Goody, reduced his father, presenter Jeff Brazier, to tears with an emotional foxtrot set to “All About You” by McFly.

Kai Widdrington & Angela Rippon on ‘Strictly'
— (BBC/Guy Levy)

Family Fortunes star Les Dennis ended the night in last place, though his comical tango to the rhythms of “Don’t You Wan’t Me” by The Human League was warmly praised by the judges.

Channel 4 journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy, known for his tenacious interviewing style, showed off his lighter side with a carefree Cha Cha set to “Boom Shak-A-Lak” by Apache Indian.

Harman took home the best scores of the night, having danced the paso doble to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana at the close of the show.

Rippon currently sits in second place with 29 points, alongside Brazier and actors Ellie Leach, Layton Williams, andAmanda Abbington.

Because it’s the first week of the series, there will be no eliminations following the episode, with the first celebrity set to leave the series next week.

As with previous series, Strictly 2023 is being presented by Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman.

Strictly Come Dancing’s live shows air on Saturday nights on BBC One.

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