Mixed fortunes for Rachel Riley and Vanessa Feltz in Strictly

Rachel Riley with partner Pasha Kovalev

Rachel Riley with partner Pasha Kovalev

Strictly Come Dancing shimmied back onto television screens this weekend, with notable performances from contestants Rachel Riley and Vanessa Feltz.

Ms Riley and her professional dance partner Pasha Kovalev impressed the audience with their romantic waltz to Luther Vandross’s When I Need You.

Before her dance, the 27-year-old Countdown presenter said: “Being used to counting with numbers doesn’t help at all with counting and dancing because you have to feel the beat and feel the rhythm.”

Head judge Len Goodman said the dance was “very pretty”, but warned: “It was a tad on the careful side, and you won’t win Strictly being careful.” He told her to return next week with “plenty of welly”.

Resident ‘nasty’ judge Craig Revel Horwood pointed out Ms Riley’s wobbly eye line and “spatula-istic hands”, but added: “It had beautiful flow, it had gorgeous rise and fall, and it was full of elegance.”

The couple scored 27 points, placing them safely in the upper half of the leader board.

Vanessa Feltz preceded her cha cha by telling viewers she was doing it “for all the grandmas and everybody of a certain age who thinks ‘don’t write us off yet.’”

She and her dance partner James Jordan performed a raunchy routine to Shania Twain’s That Don’t Impress Me Much, with a topless Jordan draping himself around the 51-year-old radio presenter.

The performance failed to impress the judges.

Ballerina Darcey Bussell told the pair: “The cha cha is a bright and lively dance. I did miss this from you, but I think sadly there is always one dance that doesn’t suit you, and this is it.”

Bruno Tonioli said: “You were trying so hard to do it right, which you did, that you lost the va-va-Vanessa. Your body has to express itself the same way as your voice does.”

Their performance earned them 19 points, landing them in the danger zone towards the bottom of the leader board.

The judges’ marks will be carried forward to next week, when one of the show’s 15 couples will be eliminated.

Last updated: 11:57am, September 30 2013