Strictly Come Dancing fans are debating why Angela Rippon was saved from near certain elimination on Sunday night.
Viewers watched in shock as Waterloo actor Adam Thomas became the sixth contestant to be eliminated from the hit BBC series, despite seemingly having performed well enough to advance.
During the results show, judges Shirley Ballas, Motsi Mabuse, Craig Revel-Horwood, and Anton Du Beke, opted to save Angela Rippon, 79 and her partner Kai Widdrington, after a tense dance off against Thomas, 35, and his partner Luba Mushtuk, 33.
While Du Beke noted this was the “closest dance off we’ve had in the series so far”, the judges’ verdict left some fans confused.
In the aftermath of Sunday night’s episode, viewers highlighted veteran British broadcaster Rippon’s connection to the show – including presenting Come Dancing, the original ballroom dance competition that gave Strictly its name.
Rippon, who made history as the show’s oldest participant when the 2023 lineup was revealed, began her journalism career with the BBC when she was 21. She continues to co-present the BBC One consumer show Rip Off alongside Gloria Hunniford and Julia Somerville.
One person wrote on X/Twitter: “Just saw the Strictly Come Dancing results show tonight, and I smell a fix - all four judges saved Angela Rippon, who was by far the weakest contestant this week. Why they saved her? Two reasons - her age, and that she used to host the original Come Dancing.”
The Independent has contacted the BBC for comment.
Others urged Rippon and Widdrington to step outside of their comfort zone and experiment with their choreographies, with one person writing: “While admiring and being generally pleasantly surprised by Angela Rippon on Strictly and in awe of what she has been able to achieve at her age, I do feel that her routines are too safe and more of the same.”
The judges’ decision to save Rippon comes ahead of all-important Blackpool week, when the Strictly live show is filmed inside the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, known as “the home of ballroom dancing”.
“You can literally see Adam slowly realising that Angela Rippon has Blackpool Week Plot Armour and will be going home no matter how this goes,” another fan comment about Sunday night’s show read.
While some expressed how “upset” they were after Thomas’s elimination, others claimed Rippon “out-danced” a lot of the younger contestants this season.
Reacting to his exit on Sunday night, former Emmerdale star Thomas celebrated his seven-week journey on Strictly while adding he had participated in the show for the sake of his children.
He said: “Seven incredible weeks, what a journey it’s been.
“I honestly thought I was leaving in week two and the fact that I’ve got this far I’m so proud of myself, I’ve had an amazing time from start to finish,” he added. “I came here to learn how to dance and I’ve learned so much more about myself. The confidence and self-belief I now have in myself, it’s out of this world I have to thank all these guys up here.’
He continued: “What a bunch to be on this journey with, I’m just very, very lucky! I know my kids are at home now probably crying, it’s okay – Daddy’s okay! I just wanted to teach my kids that it’s not just about winning or losing, it’s about taking part and doing your best.”
Thomas also apologised to Mushtuk after they were eliminated before the show in Blackpool, with the choreographer replying: “Don’t be sorry, you are incredible, I had the best season.”