Joe McFadden and Katya Jones topped Saturday night’s Strictly leaderboard as their odds to take the glitterball trophy tumbled.
The Holby City star and his professional dancer scored a new high of 38 for their 1920s-inspired quickstep and collected a further six points after a second-placed finish in the bonus pasodoblethon round.
Their main routine, to Jumpin’ Jack by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, was labelled “perfect” by head judge Shirley Ballas while Bruno Tonioli added “everything was absolutely spot on”.
Previously called a dark horse by Ballas, McFadden’s increasingly improved performances have seen his odds to win the competition cut by bookmakers and viewers also appear to agree.
@AACattanach posted on Twitter: “Standing ovation for @mrjoemcfadden and @Mrs_katjones for what could be their signature dance that sees them to the final. I’m convinced. Joe to win.”
@Tim_A_Roberts wrote: “Joe has gone from dark horse to contender.”
@MoiraAngus tweeted: “If @mrjoemcfadden does not win I’ll eat the dog’s lead well I’ll give it a chew at least. He’s by far the best dancer who came into the show with no ‘previous’.”
Fellow favourite for the glitterball Alexandra Burke claimed victory and an extra seven points in the pasodoblethon.
The extra challenge saw the remaining seven couples all take to the dancefloor at the same time to dance a paso doble.
Her win with partner Gorka Marquez meant they ended the night in joint third position with 39 points alongside EastEnders actor Davood Ghadami and his professional partner Nadiya Bychkova, who came fourth in the bonus challenge.
Former magician’s assistant Debbie McGee and partner Giovanni Pernice scored a total of 43 after receiving 38 for their Argentine Tango and a further five in the pasodoblethon.
Saturdays’ singer Mollie King and partner AJ Pritchard – whose rumoured romance appeared to be confirmed during the show as their fellow dancers urged them to kiss – ended in fifth place after scoring a total of 33 points ahead of actress Gemma Atkinson and parter Aljaz Skorjanec who received a total of 28.
In last position were comedian Susan Calman and partner Kevin Clifton who picked up just 21 from the judges for their American Smooth to Beyond The Sea and and also finished last in the pasodoblethon, earning them a solitary point.
Calman is favourite to leave this weekend while McGee (2/1) remains the favourite to take the glitterball trophy ahead of Burke (11/4) and McFadden (7/2), according to bookies’ Coral.
“After finishing in the bottom two last week, it was the perfect response from Debbie and following a strong score from the judges, she is the favourite once again to go all the way,” said Coral’s John Hill.
“We believe Joe could be the dark horse to lift the glitterball trophy and that is now reflected in the betting as his odds have been slashed once again as he has consistently performed well throughout the series,” he added.