Strictly: Pro dancer defends Ugo Monye and Oti Mabuse after exit Couldve gone further

Strictly: Ugo Monye discusses his back injury

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Strictly Come Dancing has been airing on BBC One and this weekend the contestants said goodbye to Ugo Monye and Oti Mabuse. They were up against CBBC presenter Rhys Stephenson and Nancy Xu, with the judges unanimously voting to save Rhys. Professional dancer Gary Edwards spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk about the surprising dance-off.

Ugo and Oti left Strictly after performing their captivating Rumba in the dance-off on Sunday night.

The sultry dance was his first performance since his temporary break from the competition, as he had been suffering from back problems.

He was limited to what he could do but still gave it his all, yet sadly it was not enough for the judges this time.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, dancer and judge Gary Edwards said: “I was a little bit surprised Ugo and Oti went home. That was just a bad week for him, for me.

“Again another talent, and another big guy. I would have helped him no end because I’m a big guy as well.

“Everyone says ‘you can’t dance if you’re over six foot’, well I’m six foot four and I didn’t do too bad.

“I just think he needed that little bit of help. And maybe again he could have lasted one more week. He could’ve gone further.

“I would have thought Ugo and Oti were safe, but they were obviously not.”

Gary is a 50-time judge and former dance champion in Latin and Ballroom and has worked with professionals on Dancing with the Stars in the US.

He is also president of World of Dance Studios. According to Great British Life, he was once tipped to replace Len Goodman as a judge on Strictly.

As for who could face the dance-off in Halloween week, Gary said Sara Davies and Judi Love could both be at risk.

Judi was absent from the show this week after she tested positive for covid, and Gary said: “They could be in big trouble this week.

“Again, that’s another couple that I could watch and thoroughly enjoy the performance, but when you put them into a Strictly scenario, they are looking unsafe.

“They are going to be pretty low down. Again, she’s got the charisma, probably more than anyone else from my perspective.

“I enjoy watching, yeah, but as far as dance standard [goes], no, probably not.”

Following their exit from the competition, Ugo and Oti spoke with Rylan Clark-Neal on Strictly’s It Takes Two show.

Ugo said: “It’s been a mad few days, hasn’t it! To do my last dance with Oti was amazing and you don’t want it to be your last dance but I had a phenomenal five weeks on the biggest show on the telly.”

The pair had a tough time after missing a week following Ugo’s back injury. Oti added: “I think for both of us, it felt like we were starting from the beginning.

“This felt officially like week one where we could still build up and get to the top of that leader board.

“But, we did give our best and [Ugo] did try so hard during the week and he was managing his injury.

“All week, I was asking, ‘are you okay?’ but for me, what I really loved and appreciated was that he didn’t complain and he wanted to be there.

“There was this drive, this will and passion for this beautiful show.”

Ugo said how the whole team believed health must always come first and he thanked Oti for her understanding.

He still had a great time training for the Rumba, saying they “laughed a lot” and it was “good fun”.

The rugby star concluded: “I do look back at my time with zero regrets. Did I have more to give? Yeah, I think so.

“Did I have more to give than the remaining contestants? Absolutely not because they are spectacular!”

Strictly Come Dancing returns on Saturday on BBC One at 7.10pm.

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