Strictly stars Helen Skelton and Gorka Marquez on the importance of Blackpool

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TV presenter Helen Skelton has said making it to Blackpool on Strictly Come Dancing is a personal milestone.

The BBC One dancing series is to return to the seaside resort next weekend after a two-year absence due to the pandemic, with the remaining eight couples hoping to impress the judging panel at the prestigious Tower Ballroom.

Blue Peter and Countryfile presenter Skelton, 39, and her professional Strictly partner, Gorka Marquez, received a score of 32 on Saturday night for their energetic and sultry salsa, performed to Despacito by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber.

Strictly Come Dancing rehearsals – Blackpool
The Blackpool Tower Ballroom (Dave Thompson/PA)

Marquez added: “Blackpool is a very remarkable place for dancing. I always said it’s like the Wimbledon of dance, and when it comes to Strictly, Blackpool is in the DNA of Strictly.”

Memorable Strictly moments from the Tower Ballroom over the years include 2016’s entrance by former shadow chancellor Ed Balls, who was lowered from the ceiling playing a piano before taking to the dancefloor to jive with Katya Jones to the Jerry Lee Lewis hit Great Balls Of Fire.

Another moment saw Ann Widdecombe do the samba alongside professional partner Anton Du Beke in 2010, both dressed in bright yellow, with the former Tory MP earning the night’s lowest score of 13 out of 40.

Speaking about making it this far in the competition, Marquez said: “I think every week that we make it through is a celebration, it’s a very tough competition this year.

“And we are just very grateful that the audience support us and help us get through, because without them we wouldn’t be in this point of the competition.”

Skelton added: “You just have to take it week by week, because everybody is so good.

“And you can’t really think about anything other than what you’ve got to do that week, which is a nice place to be, because I think it’d be too stressful… we’re just taking it week by week, enjoying it, having a good time.

“Trying to get better each week and thankfully people have very kindly kept us in so far. So hopefully it’ll keep going that way.”

Sunday night’s results show saw former England footballer Tony Adams, 56, become the seventh celebrity to exit the show after he was forced to withdraw due to injury.

Host Tess Daly said: “Due to an injury sustained on Saturday night, Tony is unable to take part in the dance-off and has decided to withdraw from the competition.

“This means there will be no dance-off tonight and Tyler (West) and Dianne (Buswell) are through to Blackpool.”

The results show also featured a ballroom routine marking Remembrance Sunday, featuring the Strictly professionals, with cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and singer Zak Abel performing their single Same Boat.

The remaining eight couples will take to the dancefloor at Blackpool Tower on Saturday November 19 at 7.45pm, with the results show on Sunday November 20 at 7.20pm on BBC One.

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