Look out, Daisy Lowe; someone is hot on your dancing heels, and she means business.
That’s right, Lesley Joseph pulled out all the stops this week, performing a Charleston that was slapstick, daring and brimming with expertly-delivered dancing content.
The actress, who celebrated her 71st birthday the day before Saturday’s live show, proved she could give her younger competitors a serious run for their money as she lit up the dancefloor alongside partner Anton du Beke.
The duo pulled out high kicks and knee slaps aplenty to “Won’t You Charleston With Me?” - even though, as we learned in her earlier video segment, Lesley had been exhaustedly juggling her Strictly training with filming for Birds of a Feather in Malta. Looks like the Mediterranean Sea did her some good.
Regular sourpuss Craig-Revel Horwood was suitably impressed, commenting: “I could never keep that much stamina going. You astound me every time. It was strong and vibrant - I loved it.”
And the plaudits kept coming, with Len Goodman telling the birthday girl: “That was your best dance to date. If you keep that up, on Strictly you’re going to have many happy returns.”
Bruno Tonioli added: “You looked like a 20-year-old out there. You were placed correctly and you didn’t lose your timing. You did a great job my darling.”
The result? 31 points and an easy breeze into next week’s show. Well done indeed, Lesley. Although, next time, lose the Tinkerbell costume.
Daisy Lowe, meanwhile, also notched up 31 points, after taking the tempo down with a slow and sensuous Rumba to Careless Whisper by George Michael.
The model looked poised and well-held as she swayed and stepped around partner Aljaz Skorjanec, causing head judge Len to note: “You’re not lazy, Daisy. You have worked hard. It was a terrifically difficult dance and I thought you did a terrifically good job.”
Darcey Bussell agreed, telling her: “You used your whole body to express emotion - long languid moves, which are very difficult to sustain. Very impressive.”
Craig, however, was marginally less impressed, complaining that her “free arm lacked a bit of direction and definition - it seems to just land there and waft around a little bit without strength behind it”.
He also lamented a lack of chemistry between the pair, adding: “I felt there could have been a bit more of an emotional connection”.
Later in the week, Daisy revealed to Zoe Ball on Strictly spin-off It Takes Two that she was "quite upset" by Craig's comments. "If I could just stop panicking so much, I would dance better", she lamented.
Still, the public must have felt something different to Craig, as once again the pair sailed into the next round. Look out for their Charleston next week, which Daisy has revealed is shaping up to be "so much fun".
And, last but not least, we have Judge Rinder - a man who proved he could pull off lederhosen far better than most.
The TV judge and his partner Oksana Platero channelled the Bavarian outdoors as they delivered a whirling Viennese Waltz to Boom Bang a Bang by Lulu.
Noting his folksy Austrian apparel, he told Tess Daly: “I look like a young Boris Becker”, giving the tennis player, who happened to be sat in the audience, a cheeky wave.
Craig, who we see every show grow more perturbed by Judge Rinder’s facial expressions, told him that, this week, “they are on the up”.
“They are improving,” he noted, “until the second half, when you went back into the goofy thing. But there is a delicious dancer hidden underneath all that; I can’t wait to see it, my love.”
Bruno and Darcey also called for a more restrained Rinder, with the former commenting: “You don’t have to do craziness all the time. You can actually dance when you want to”. Darcey added: “I don’t want you to over-exaggerate.”
But then, proving you can’t please all the people all the time, Len counteracted his colleagues’ pleas for restraint, telling the pair: “I think you should do what you do. You have a great balance between a bit of fun and good dancing.”
Their score, 27, was itself unremarkable - especially in a week when, for the first time this season, number 10 score paddles made their debuts.
But then, Judge Rinder is still popular with the voting public, as he too eluded the dance-off and nabbed a place in next week’s show.
The question is: will we see a more muted, less exaggerated Robert Rinder return next Saturday? It's doubtful. And thank goodness for that; I would wager that Ed Balls’ days of dancing are far too numbered to rely on him as our only comic relief.
By Charlotte Oliver