Rhys Stephenson ‘proud’ to have reached semi-finals after Strictly elimination

Rhys Stephenson has said he feels “proud” and “excited” to have reached the Strictly Come Dancing semi-finals.

The CBBC presenter, 28, narrowly missed out on a spot in the grand final of the BBC One show after ending up in the dance-off on Sunday night.

Stephenson and his professional partner, Nancy Xu, faced Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite and his partner Johannes Radebe but were eliminated by the judges.

Appearing on BBC Two spin-off show It Takes Two, he said he was still pleased with his performance.

He said: “I feel really proud of what we did and excited because, I mean, the semi-finals.

“And that semi-final was intense. It was so good. Some of the all-stars of Strictly, so to be on that line-up was incredible.”

Stephenson placed fourth during Saturday’s show after receiving a score of 36 for a tango to Queen’s One Vision.

Reflecting on the challenging routine, he said: “It stressed us out for a while because it was the frame and the turns, the rotation. It was like, ‘I don’t know if I am going to do this’. And I had the samba to think about (as well).

“It was such a challenge. But in those moments I have just got to keep stepping, keep going forward, keep moving. And eventually when it came to that night, it came together.

“There is something magical about Strictly where on Saturday night you get there.”

Xu, who joined the show in 2019 but spent two years without a partner, became tearful as she looked back on her first series alongside a celebrity.

She said: “Teaching Rhys has just been the most magical moment for me in the Strictly journey so far.

“Yes, we didn’t make it to the final but I think there is more to the fact than this. We had everyone’s support behind us.”

She added: “I am so grateful for everything – for Strictly giving me this chance, giving me such a wonderful person to learn from me, and also I learned so much from him.

“He is patient, he is generous, he gave me everything about himself.”

The final three celebrities will take to the dancefloor in the Strictly Come Dancing Final 2021 on December 18 at 7pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.