Vanessa Feltz on Strictly – I only hope Angela realises how much joy she brought

Strictly: Angela and Kai receive their scores in Blackpool

I don’t want to write R.I.P. Rippon because I know Angela and she won’t. No 79 year old in the land is more deserving of a nice sit down with a slice of Yule log and a fortifying libation.

Angela has given an enraptured legion of fans everything from spectacular splits to extraordinarily elastic leg extensions to the elegant arm elevations of an enthusiastic teenager.

She knocked our socks off with her virtuoso vigour. What’s more, her modesty and impeccable manners illuminated our weekends.

She has earned a recuperative recline on the chaise longue but alas she’ll be feeling as deflated and dejected as all Strictly evictees since Series 1.

The entire rhythm of Angela’s life will have ticked to the Strictly Come Dancing metronome since August.

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She’ll have whirled from fitting to rehearsal to live show to ‘It Takes Two’ to magazine interview and back again.

Strictly will have invaded her dreams and nightmares, been the sole conversational topic with friends and total strangers and given her a framework of structure and companionship.

She will feel closer to professional partner Kai Widdrington than any other human on earth. Now just imagine the feeling. Today she’ll appear on It Takes Two and then . . . Absolutely nothing!

It’s over. Finished. Your new friends are busy mastering their new routines, trying on exquisite costumes, floating in the Strictly bubble.

You are on the outside, looking in at the warm wonderful world you were once integral to and feeling utterly bereft. I only hope Angela realises how much joy she brought to millions of us this bleak midwinter.

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They didn’t half big up Blackpool. From the endless journey sequences and awed expressions full of wonderment, you’d have thought they’d relocated to Outer Mongolia.

Nevertheless, the show delivered on its Blackpool promise in spades. The game was upped. Shirley was positively magisterial. Motsi was dressed as a giant glitter ball. Anton spluttered and made strange noises and Craig pretended to bristle while purring like a pussycat.

Tess was in black sequins, Claudia in white. Both were breathless with Blackpool excitement.

And the dancing truly was sublime. That fabulously fluid Bobby Brazier ended up in the dance-off says it all. Standards are soaring. Angela Scanlon’s spine-tingling Argentine tango electrified the throng.

Partner Carlos was so relieved finally to be showered with praise by the judges, he wept like a newborn at the Christening font.

Nigel and Katya’s minor fumblings in a phenomenal quickstep so swift Katya accurately said she ‘felt she was flying’ might have marked their card as the next couple to go.

Post-Blackpool there’s no margin for missteps. Meanwhile Ellie and Vito’s budding romance is paying sizzling dividends on the dance floor. Their life-affirming Charleston could have illuminated the illuminations.

Layton and Nikita delivered another supersonic routine propelling the judges to fresh volleys of superlatives. ‘Creative genius!’ was the least effusive.

Yes, Layton dances on the West End stage for a living. No, that’s not strictly Strictly. But boy can those two dance so compellingly we are simply grateful to have witnessed their artistry.

To me Annabel Croft is the ultimate contestant. She has transformed from heart-broken novice to enchanting dancer. Anton is right.

When Annabel and Johannes take to the floor our tears flow. Their relationship has rescued her from abject grief. Their hard work translates into a delicate beauty which stirs our emotions.

I would love to see them unleashed in the final.

Strictly Come Dancing continues Saturday on BBC One from 7:30pm

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