Strictly viewers ‘in tears’ over Annabel Croft’s ‘beautiful’ tribute to her late husband

Strictly Come Dancing viewers have been left “in tears” after Annabel Croft paid moving tribute to her late husband with an emotional performance on the latest episode.

The former tennis player and TV presenter is competing on the new series of the BBC dance competition, where she’s paired with professional dancer Johannes Radebe.

When she was first announced as a cast member on Strictly 2023, Croft, 57, shared that she hoped to “find some joy” on the show after her husband Mel Coleman died earlier this year, months after being diagnosed with stomach cancer.

Having reached the midway mark of the series, Croft and Radebe decided to make their Couple’s Choice, which they performed to “Wings” by Birdy, a tribute to Mel. In the VT ahead of her dance, Croft showed Radebe around her family home and surrounding area, highlighting a bench she would often sit on with her husband of 29 years.

This bench was incorporated into the performance, which ended with Croft blowing a kiss to the heavens. The pair were visibily emotional at the end, with host Tess Daly thanking Radebe, whom Croft’s children described as an “angel”, for being such a huge support to Croft.

The judges were also misty-eyed, telling her Croft that it seemed as if Mel was by her side throughout the performance. For the dance, Croft received her highest score of the series so far.

Viewers at home were left equally as teary, expressing their emotion on social media.

“I knew this dance would probably make me emotional, but I didn’t expect to be in tears from the first second,” one person wrote, with another adding: “Wow... I don’t really get teary, but I got close then... How beautiful. You could just feel the pure love Annabel had for her husband in this dance. He would have loved it. Tonight was Annabel Croft’s moment.”

An additional viewer praised the “storytelling”, stating: “I don’t normally get emotional but I did a little bit.”

Croft previously revealed that she felt overcome with sadness the night before she made her Strictly debut as her husband was not there to comfort her.

Annabel Croft and Johannes Radebe on ‘Strictly’ (BBC)
Annabel Croft and Johannes Radebe on ‘Strictly’ (BBC)

“So I just sat and cried,’ she told MailOnline. “Mel was my biggest supporter, my protector. He gave me confidence. He made things right, always had done. I wanted to talk to him. I wanted to say: ‘I am really nervous for tomorrow, but I don’t have you to make it OK.’”

Croft said that “it was a weird scenario”, adding: “I was about to go out in front of millions of people and be jolly and happy but I was sobbing, thinking: ‘I don’t know where you are, Mel. Where have you gone?’.”

Appearing on Lorraine on Wednesday (4 October), Croft said that Strictly had been “a nice distraction from grief”.

Explaining that Coleman was a “huge fan” of the show, she told host Lorraine Kelly: “It’s been nice to do something joyful and use my body and try to rest my brain from thinking too many dark thoughts.”

Strictly Come Dancing continues Saturday 11 November at 7.05pm on BBC One.

Find out who got eliminated in Sunday night’s results show here.