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Saffron Barker leaves Strictly Come Dancing after failing to win over judges in dance-off

Birmingham Mail logo Birmingham Mail 24/11/2019 Lucy Mapstone, PA & Brett Gibbons
a woman standing on a stage posing for the camera: Saffron Barker and AJ Pritchard on Strictly Come Dancing © BBC / Guy Levy Saffron Barker and AJ Pritchard on Strictly Come Dancing

Social media star and lifestyle blogger Saffron Barker has been eliminated from Strictly Come Dancing.

The YouTube personality, 19, and her dance partner AJ Pritchard were unanimously voted off by the judges after facing Karim Zeroual and Amy Dowden in the dance-off.

Barker said she has had "the absolute time of my life and it's all down to him" while thanking Pritchard.

She told Strictly host Tess Daly: "It's been amazing. I'd like to thank AJ so much, when I look at what I was like on week one I was so embarrassed and shy.

a man in a red dress: AJ Pritchard and Saffron Barker © PA AJ Pritchard and Saffron Barker

"He's really taken me out of my shell. Thank you so much for everything."

Pritchard told Barker: "Every single week you've approached it with a positive mental attitude and you've inspired so many... on your own social media too.

"As a non-dancer starting from day one I'm not going to lie I was a bit scared, but performing those fantastic dances has been amazing. I'll never ever ever forget that dance. Thank you. The best partner. Thank you."

The elimination comes after Barker and Pritchard came in joint last place on the leaderboard in Saturday night's show, alongside Alex Scott and Neil Jones.

a woman posing for a picture: Saffron was partnered with pro dancer AJ Pritchard © BBC/Kieron McCarron Saffron was partnered with pro dancer AJ Pritchard

They received 26 points for their samba to Walking On Sunshine by Take Me To Rio Collective from the judges.

The previous week the pair had been in the dance-off in Blackpool against Michelle Visage and Giovanni Pernice despite scoring 35 points out of 40 from the judging panel.

Earlier in the series, Barker and Pritchard had reigned supreme at the top of the leaderboard and were considered among the favourites to win the series.

But after performing their samba again opposite Zeroual and Dowden, who repeated their contemporary couples choice to Drops Of Jupiter by With Confidence, the judges said it was their time to leave.

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Zeroual and Dowden, who had come in joint first place on the leaderboard with Kelvin Fletcher and Oti Mabuse, were praised for having "the best dance" by Craig Revel Horwood.

Bruno Tonioli said they had "proven to be the strongest both technically and artistically" when compared to Barker and Pritchard.

Zeroual and Dowden and Fletcher and Mabuse are in the final five for Strictly this year, along with Scott and Jones, Chris Ramsey and Karen Hauer and Emma Barton and Anton du Beke.

They will dance in next weekend's musical special, which will air at 7.10pm on Saturday on BBC One.

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