Danny Mac illuminates Blackpool as Ed Balls strikes chord with Strictly audience

Ed Balls during the dress rehearsal for tonight's Strictly Come Dancing
Ed Balls during the dress rehearsal for tonight's Strictly Come Dancing
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Strictly Come Dancing favourite Danny Mac rose to the occasion during the show's traditional journey to Blackpool as he scored the first 40 of the series for a 'showstopper' charleston.

The actor and partner Oti Mabuse were awarded 10 points apiece by the four judges as they shot to the top of the leaderboard for the second week running.

The couple's dance to Puttin' On The Ritz by Gregory Porter was praised by judge Darcey Bussell who said 'it is hard to distinguish who is actually the professional dancer'.

Fellow judge Bruno Tonioli called it a 'showstopper' performance.

Mac still faces stiff competition to claim the glitterball trophy particularly from former shadow chancellor Ed Balls whose theatrical performances during the series have drawn a wealth of support.

Styled with a strong quiff, the ex-Labour MP descended 40ft from the Tower Ballroom on last night's show, playing the piano before jiving with partner Katya Jones to Jerry Lee Lewis hit Great Balls Of Fire.

The pair scored 23 points for their performance which ended with Balls being lifted by Jones and four backing dancers as the house band bellowed 'goodness gracious Ed Balls of fire'.

Bookies Coral have cut Balls' odds of winning to 12-1 from 100-1 at the start of the series as he has consistently escaped the bottom two dance off due to a high volume of public support.

Craig Revel Horwood described the dance as similar to 'hopscotch in an all girls school' but praised Balls for his commitment.

Joint second on the leaderboard are former singer Louise Redknapp and partner Kevin Clifton and BBC sports presenter Ore Odube with professional dancer Joanne Clifton who scored 38 apiece.

Redknapp's theatrical paso doble to Explosive by Bond wowed judge Tonioli who called it a 'luscious game of thrones paso', adding it had 'beauty, artistry and power'.

Olympic champion long jumper Greg Rutherford's quickstep with partner Natalie Lowe scored 32 putting them just behind Judge Rinder and Oksana Platero who danced a salsa to Spice Girls' hit Spice Up Your Life.

The television judge's twerking and cartwheeling finish saw the couple awarded 33 points although head judge Len Goodman criticised his timing.

Olympic gymnast Claudia Fragapane and professional dancer AJ Pritchard's jive to Hey Mickey by Toni Basil was rewarded with nine points apiece from the judges.

Rutherford is the favourite at 6-4 to leave in Sunday's show with Judge Rinder also expected to be in the dance-off.

Coral's John Hill said: "The betting suggests Greg Rutherford is the favourite to be eliminated this weekend in Blackpool, with Robert Rinder the most likely to be in the dance-off with the former Olympic gold medallist."

Strictly Come Dancing returns on Sunday at 7.15pm.

See Monday's Gazette for a full round-up.