Strictly Come Dancing star Ellie Simmonds and her pro dance partner Nikita Kuzmin have clapped back at a row over an 'illegal' lift in their performance on Saturday night's live show. The pair brought the tension of The Apprentice’s boardroom to the dancefloor as they performed to the show’s theme tune on the BBC One dance contest to celebrate the BBC’s centenary.
They performed a dramatic paso doble and secured a score of 30 points out of a possible 40 from the judges. But it didn't come without criticism.
Head judge Shirley Ballas said she deducted a point for an "illegal lift" during the routine. "I only have one little complaint. I do, I'm so sorry," she said. "I do have to deduct one point for an assisted lift at the beginning because that's not allowed. But other than that you were absolutely phenomenal."
And her co-judge Craig Revel Horwood was in agreement, calling it an "illegal lift." He claimed it would have been fine if it had just been a quick maneuvere to get Ellie from the table to the floor, but he said the move had lasted too long.
But speaking to presenter Janette Manrara on the Strictly spin-off show It Takes Two on Wednesday (October 26) the pair defended the move and said they would do it again. Paralympic swimming champ Ellie said about their dance: "What a night it was to be part of the BBC 100th celebrations and to dance the Paso Doble to The Apprentice theme tune as well. It was amazing, such an incredible night. And having to bring that serious face as well."
Nikita added: "We worked all week we want to make this two steps forward, we want to improve on a technical level, and we want to see a new side of Ellie which we definitely have seen. I wanted lots of drama and that's what I said from the beginning and honestly it was just fantastic."
When Janette asked them about the lift Nikita explained that his priority had been getting Ellie safely down from the table. "I love the fact Craig said it's illegal. But to be honest, I'm always trying to create the choreography around Ellie and my goal for this week was to create a lot of drama," he said.
"But to be fair about the lift, my only goal is to get Ellie down safely, in a spectacular manner." And Ellie added: "He's thinking of safety first!"
Nikita continued: "Safety and in a spectacular manner. But honestly Janette if that's the only thing which keeps us away from a 10, I can live with that." Ellie added: "We've said this week that we'd still keep it in there, even though with Craig saying it's illegal."
Janette asked them: "So you would have left it in the dance off anyway?" And they both replied "yes." The pair also raised a 'scary' issue that they have with the show.
They told Janette that waiting to find out who might be in the dreaded dance-off is even more nail-biting for them because there is another Ellie in the competition. Comedian Ellie Taylor is partnered by Johannes Radebe and there's confusion when the name 'Ellie' is read out as the red light of doom circles the studio.
"I love Ellie and Johannes but everytime, these guys scare us so much," said Nikita. And Ellie added: "Could they change it and put Nikita and then Ellie and then Johannes and then Ellie? Swap it round please. Do it just for us."
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