Strictly’s Angela Rippon teases Blackpool week dance routine amid ‘fix’ claims

Strictly Come Dancing star Angela Rippon has spoken amidst fan speculation that her journey on the show is “fixed”, while teasing her “Blackpool week” routine.

Rippon, 79, who made history as the show’s oldest participant when the 2023 line-up was first announced, will join her fellow contestants in Blackpool for this week’s episodes of the BBC One show.

“Blackpool week”, as it has come to be known, marks a significant milestone in the reality series.

After six weeks of eliminations, the remaining celebrities and their professional dance partners will be getting ready to take the stage at Blackpool’s renowned Tower Ballroom – known as “the home of ballroom dancing”.

Rippon and her partner Kai Widdrington will perform the American Smooth in Blackpool this week, with the veteran newscaster describing the dance style as “a foxtrot with knobs on” in a column for The Telegraph.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Oakley (left) faced Rippon and Widdrington in the dance-off (BBC/Guy Levy)
Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Oakley (left) faced Rippon and Widdrington in the dance-off (BBC/Guy Levy)

She also expressed her surprise at having made it so far into the competition, while adding “it was not a given” as some viewers have previously suggested.

“Blackpool, here we come! Against all my wildest expectations, we made it through to another week,” the Rip Off Britain host wrote. “Mind you, it was not a given. For the second week in a row, I was in the dance-off.”

Rippon was referring to her dance-off against British journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy during the elimination episode last Sunday, after she and Guru-Murthy received the lowest marks from judges Shirley Ballas, Anton du Beke, Motsi Mabuse, and Craig Revel Horwood.

After the dance-off, three of the four judges voted to save Rippon as the Channel 4 newsreader was sent home.

“It’s looking suspiciously like a fix,” one viewer subsequently wrote on X/Twitter, amid intense fan speculation that Rippon was purposely being saved until Blackpool week.

At the time, several people also highlighted Rippon’s connection to the dance competition – including presenting the original ballroom dance competition that gave Strictly its name, Come Dancing.

“Shirley Ballas is the only one that voted correctly as she would’ve saved Krishnan. Angela Rippon nearly fell over. What a fix!” read another comment, posted on X after the dance-off.

Elsewhere in the column, Rippon said Widdrington’s choreography this week features “not one, but three new lifts” and “a bit of cheeky footwork” set to the rythmn of Ella Fitzgerald’s hit “Tea for Two”.

She also described what it’s like performing in the “mecca of ballroom dancing”, writing that the floor of the Tower Ballroom “has so much spring in it that dancers feel as if they are floating on air”.

Rippon and her partner Kai Widdrington (Kai Widdrington/BBC)
Rippon and her partner Kai Widdrington (Kai Widdrington/BBC)

Rippon continued: “It’s also considerably bigger than the BBC set at Elstree Studios and therefore a space that’s a joyous playground for choreographers to make routines, not just bigger, but more ambitious, more demanding, and quite spectacular.

“And this week I get to dance there. Good Lord. I’ve even got six backing dancers.”

After last week’s dance-off, Widdrington, 28, defended Rippon against claims the show is rigged during an episode of It Takes Two.

“Angela’s been there before, we were there the week before,” the Strictly pro said. “There was no way on earth I was letting you go home even if we completely fell off the [side of the dancefloor].

“We did enough, we had a good score. I think you deserved your place at Blackpool so,” he affirmed.

Strictly Come Dancing continues Saturday 18 November at 6.40pm on BBC One.