Layton Williams receives standing ovation after backflip on Strictly

Strictly Come Dancing contestant Layton Williams has wowed the judges by performing a back handspring with a wig on while dancing to Olivia Rodrigo’s Vampire.

Judge Craig Revel Horwood labelled the performance a “theatrical triumph”, but head judge Shirley Ballas had some criticisms and told Williams that he needed to work on the basics.

Musical theatre star Williams, 29, who played Stephen on BBC Three series Bad Education, is partnered with professional dancer Nikita Kuzmin and the pair performed a tango on Saturday which received a standing ovation.

Strictly Come Dancing 2023
Nikita Kuzmin and Layton Williams during their tango (Guy Levy/BBC)

Offering her criticism on the spooky dance which took place during Strictly’s Halloween Week, Ballas said: “I think it’s got some great choreography going on.

“I think you are an exceptional dancer. I think everybody knows that.

“You can drum, you’ve got all the tricks… but for me it is still a ballroom and Latin competition and there are certain fundamentals, particularly like when you’re going into promenade which is a very basic step.”

Responding to boos, Ballas went on: “No, hang on a minute. Please wait a moment. Basic at the bronze level.

“When you’re going into promenade the first step is a heel… I’m just talking keep working on the footwork as you know you’ve got the rest, but what’s difficult is the fundamentals.”

Strictly Come Dancing 2023
Layton Williams doing a backwards handspring during Halloween Week (Guy Levy/BBC)

Refuting her opinion, Revel Horwood  said: “I disagree with Shirley that this is strictly a ballroom and Latin competition, we have plenty of other forms of dancing that we do as well and for me this was a theatrical triumph.”

Also complimenting Williams was Du Beke, who called him a “fantastic dancer”.

Williams mentioned that the nerves had got to him this week, and said he wants to “level up”.

With four nines from the judges, the duo received  a total of 36 points, which put them second on the Strictly leader board this week, behind Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola who wowed with their salsa.

Next up was EastEnders star Bobby Brazier, who performed the cha cha to Come On-A My House with dance partner Dianne Buswell.

The couple were awarded 30 points from the judges.

Channel 4 news presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy and his dance partner Lauren Oakley performed a Viennese waltz as Jekyll and Hyde in a dance which looked “menacing”, according to presenter Tess Daly.

Strictly Come Dancing 2023
Bobby Brazier and Dianne Buswell, during their appearance on the live show on Saturday for BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

Revel Horwood said that the dance lacked “flow”, but he said he loved the characterisation and the couple were awarded 27 points.

Next was broadcaster Angela Rippon and Kai Widdrington who danced the Charleston in a performance that Revel Horwood labelled a “swivel masterclass”.

Ballas said that she had noticed some mistakes in the performance, but added that Rippon was “absolutely stunning” before the couple were awarded 33 points.

Former tennis player Annabel Croft and Johannes Radebe sported red devil outfits whilst performing the tango.

Ballas said that the dance showed Croft’s “serious” side, but mentioned she had picked up on a number of “hiccups”.

Elsewhere, Du Beke praised the performance and mentioned that the late Len Goodman would have loved it, with the couple going on to receive 29 points.

Strictly Come Dancing 2023
Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Lauren Oakley (Guy Levy/BBC)

Next up was soap star Nigel Harman and his dance partner Katya Jones whose performance received criticism from Ballas for having “too many mistakes”. The couple received 30 points altogether.

Performing last and painted head to toe in green was Coronation Street actress Leach and Coppola who topped the leader board with 38 points for dazzling with a salsa to the song Murder On The Dancefloor by Sophie Ellis-Bextor.

Du Beke called the performance “absolutely spectacular” and presenter Daly seemed surprised at the couple’s “daring lifts”.

Revel Horwood also adored the dance and said “I absolutely loved that”, adding that it was like a “disco salsa”.

Judge Oti Mabuse called it the “dance of the night” and Ballas called it “killer” and said she admired the “groove” and “movement”.

There were other performances in the night from Love Island star Zara McDermott and Graziano Di Prima, Waterloo Road’s Adam Thomas and Luba Mushtuk and Irish TV presenter Angela Scanlon and Carlo Gu.