Ore hits the top of the leaderboard in Strictly semi-final

Sports presenter Ore Oduba hit the top of the Strictly Come Dancing leaderboard ahead of next week’s final.

The BBC broadcaster, who had no dancing experience before taking part in the competition, topped the scoreboard for the first time since week five with partner Joanne Clifton.

Each couple performed twice on Saturday night during the show’s semi-final.

Ore, whose parents had flown over from Nigeria to watch from the studio audience, scored a combined 77 for his two dances.

The couple’s first performance – a quickstep to Jet’s Are You Gonna Be My Girl? – caused an argument between the judges.

As Craig Revel Horwood criticised Ore for his arm pointing out, Len Goodman stood up and said to his co-judge “you make it up, you just make it up”.

Presenter Tess Daly calmed the judges before adding “strangely only you saw that, Craig”.

The couple then danced an Argentine tango to Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, which was applauded by Craig.

Len told Ore: “I’ve got to say what amazes me, Ore, you can make a case out for the other three.

“You’ve got no dance experience, you come out and dance with so much precision. It was so full and intense, I thought it was a terrific, wonderful performance, well done.”

Second in the leaderboard was Hollyoaks actor Danny Mac and partner Oti Mabuse.

The duo first danced a salsa which Len compared to his breakfast porridge: “Tasty, satisfying with a little bit of oaty flavour.”

Bruno Tonioli told the couple: “Oti, my darling, you are a very naughty girl and that was a very naughty salsa.”

They returned for an American smooth which culminated in Oti pulling off a spectacular dive off a platform into Danny’s arms.

Danny, who Len said was the “one to beat” during a preview for their dance, scored a combined 76 for the two dances.

Meanwhile, Louise Redknapp and partner Kevin Clifton finished in joint third with Olympic gymnast Claudia Fragapane and her partner AJ Pritchard.

Both couples scored a combined 73 with Claudia and AJ picking up their highest total for the series with 38 for their quickstep to When You’re Smiling by Andy Williams.

Earlier they had performed a romantic rumba to Leona Lewis’ hit Bleeding Love.

Louise and Kevin danced a tango to Glad All Over by the Dave Clark Five and a samba to the classic Brazil, by Thiago Thome, which was dubbed “vivacious” by Craig.

The remaining four celebrities will be whittled down to three on Sunday night ahead of next week’s finale.

Claudia is favourite to leave, according to bookies’ Coral, while Danny is backed to take the prestigious Glitterball trophy.

“Danny has been a cut above the rest from the beginning and the odds suggest he will be rewarded with the Glitter Ball trophy next week,” said Coral’s Nicola McGeady.

The Strictly Come Dancing results show airs on Sunday at 7.20pm on BBC One.

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