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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Maanya Sachdeva

Strictly’s Kai Widdrington addresses partner Angela Rippon’s elimination

BBC/Guy Levy

Angela Rippon’s Strictly Come Dancing partner Kai Widdrington has addressed their exit from the BBC show on Sunday (19 November) after their journey ended following 10 rollercoaster weeks.

By the end of the “Blackpool Week” performances on Saturday night (18 November), Rippon, 79, found herself in the leaderboard’s bottom two for the third consecutive week.

The veteran newsreader exited the show on Sunday when Strictly judges Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, and Anton DuBeke all voted to save EastEnders actor Bobby Brazier.

Widdrington, who previously defended Rippon against claims her journey on the show was “fixed” or pre-decided because of her past connection to Strictly, shared a heartfelt message for his dance partner on social media after they were eliminated.

The choreographer, 28, wrote on Instagram: “What an amazing 10 weeks with the legend that is Angela Rippon. We promised we’d be ‘Rippon’ up the dance floor and we did.”

He thanked all the fans who “supported our journey” before praising Rippon for her commitment to the show, writing “you never complained once despite the injuries, the brutal training regime and the increasingly complex routines”.

Widdrington added: “It was my pleasure and a privilege to dance with you, you taught us all that age really is just a number.”

Rippon made history as the show’s oldest ever contestant when the 2023 lineup was announced, ahead of the season premiere.

While her debut performance, marked by an impressively high kick, earned praise from fans, viewers began speculating Rippon had “Blackpool Week Plot Armour” and would not be eliminated until after the hotly anticipated “Blackpool week” concluded – despite consistently receiving low marks from the judges.

Strictly’s Angela Rippon ‘ripped up the dance floor’ with her high kick, says Kai Widdrington.
— (Kai Widdrington/BBC)

They highlighted the British broadcaster’s previous ties to the BBC, where Rippon began her journalism career, as well as the show – including presenting the original ballroom dance competition that gave Strictly its name, Come Dancing.

In a statement to The Independent, a Strictly source said: “All of the judges are hugely experienced individuals who judge on dance and dance alone in the main show and in the dance offs. Any conspiracy theories suggesting otherwise are simply untrue”.

Widdrington previously defended Rippon in the face of these claims that the show was “fixed” during an episode of It Takes Two – the companion show to Strictly.

“We did enough, we had a good score,” the Strictly pro said, referring to his and Rippon’s dance-off against Krishnan Guru-Murthy during the week before Blackpool. “I think you deserved your place at Blackpool so.”

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