Barn-storming ex-Leeds MP Ed Balls wins over Strictly doubters
And Ed Balls’s energetic Charleston on Saturday night meant the former Morley MP survived the first knock-out of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing despite finishing bottom of the judges’ leaderboard.
The Labour politician, who lost his seat at last year’s general election to Tory Andrea Jenkyns, danced to The Banjo’s Back In Town in a routine heralded as a “comeback that Tony Blair would be proud of” by judge Bruno Tonioli.
One surprise fan was Balls’ former opposite number George Osborne, who tweeted: “Come on @edballs!”
Meanwhile, Labour MP Liz Kendal posted: “Go go go @edballs !! Fab performance, gave it loads of welly, love the jazz hands too! #glitterballs #scd #craigiswrong”.
Balls, whose wife and Labour MP Yvette Cooper was in the audience, was given another cheer when he hit back at head judge Len Goodman’s remarks that he had “gone to the country before and didn’t do very well”. Balls snapped back: “We did win three elections.”
Meanwhile, Craig Revel Horwood said the performance had an “air of desperation”.
Earlier in the weekend, Mr Balls vowed to prove the doubters wrong after a newspaper article dubbed him Strictly’s worst ever dancer.
The former Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was MP for Normantonbetween 2005 and 2010, survived to dance again when fellow competitor Melvin Odoom became the first celebrity to be booted off the popular BBC show.
The presenter and DJ and his professional dance partner Janette Manrara were given their marching orders after receiving the fewest votes from viewers.
Odoom said the experience had been “a blessing” despite his early departure.
The pair - who performed a Tango to Movin’ On Up by M People on Saturday’s show - were due to face singer Anastacia and her pro partner Brendan Cole in the dreaded dance off after the first public vote was combined with the judges’ scores.
However, an injury that forced Anastacia to perform a modified routine during Saturday’s instalment kept her off the dancefloor altogether in the results show.
This meant the couple with the fewest viewer votes were eliminated.
A Strictly Come Dancing spokesman said: “There was no dance off tonight due to a confirmed injury.”