Strictly Come Dancing professional Kai Widdrington was left wiping away tears during Sunday’s results show when Angela Rippon bid farewell to the competition.
Rippon and Widdrington impressed time and time again on the dance floor and, despite some disgruntled “fix” claims from viewers, remained firm favourites with the judging panel.
However, Blackpool Week was one step too far and after having previously seen off Adam Thomas and Krishnan Guru-Murthy, her third dance-off against Bobby Brazier resulted in her leaving the contest.
After the judges unanimously voted to save Brazier, Tess Daly spoke to Rippon about her time in the competition and how she felt now it was time to say goodbye.
“The last nine weeks have probably been the most terrifying, the most fantastic, the most glorious, the most joyful that I have spent for a very long time in my profession,” Rippon began.
She continued: “I’ve just had the time of my life and people keep making reference to the fact I presented Come Dancing… that was 40 years ago, that was a different time, he [Widdrington] wasn’t even born then…
Kai Widdrington cries after he and Angela Rippon lose the dance-off
“But actually being this side of the competition and this side of the programme has been really an eye-opener for me in so many ways.
“Everybody talks about the team, the pros, they are so supportive, there is a real team spirit in this programme unlike anything I’ve ever crossed in any of the many other programmes that I’ve done… they are absolutely wonderful.
“But the person who really has to get the most credit is this gentleman here,” Rippon said as she turned her attention specifically to Widdrington in a sweet gesture just moments after he’d begun wiping away tears.
“There’s gonna be tears,” Daly chipped in before Rippon paid tribute to her pro partner: “I keep telling him he’s an old soul on young shoulders, he’s 28 and I’m 79, there’s a 51-year difference in our ages.
“He has looked after me so brilliantly. He’s a wonderful dancer, a great choreographer, but most of all he’s a terrific teacher and he has the patience of a saint.
“And you got me here so you don’t you dare cry,” Rippon joked as Widdrington wept. “He got me here and he and his partner Nadiya (Bychkova) are in every sense of the word beautiful people and I am so pleased to have you in my life.”
The crowd broke out into applause as Widdrington tried to regain his composure to share his thoughts on their time together.
He told Daly: “Since Week One since I met this amazing woman that – as you said I wasn’t even born when she did Come Dancing, I had to ask my parents about this amazing Morecambe and Wise moment that was so famous… I just met Angela.
Tess Daly comforted Angela and Kai after their dance-off loss
“And as she said, there’s a 50-year age gap between us but I feel like I’ve known her for 50 years, we’re like mates.
“And I’m so proud of you, you should be proud of yourself and it’s been my absolute honour and pleasure to dance with you especially in this arena tonight.”
Now Rippon has left the competition, just six celebrities remain as the final edges closer.
Angela Scanlon, Brazier, Layton Williams, Nigel Harman, Ellie Leach and Annabel Croft are the final stars left in the contest.