Strictly Come Dancing 2021, semi-final results, live: Rhys Stephenson misses out on the grand final

No one ever wants to leave Strictly, but it’s particularly gutting to be eliminated in the semi-final, just one week shy of the season’s big finish. This year, it’s Rhys Stephenson who fills that unhappy role after losing out in a very close dance-off to John Whaite on Sunday night. However the judges, and many viewers, wished we could have stuck to the planned four-person final and kept all of our quality quartet.

Stephenson speeds to the exit

His Tigger-ish energy was both a blessing and a curse throughout his time on Strictly. Stephenson came bounding into the competition with bags of potential but struggled to channel that into the ballroom dances. He was much happier in the freestyle numbers and when dancing out of hold, as in his Spider-Man Couple’s Choice and bubbly Charleston. 

Recently, though, he’d started to contain his energy and work more with partner Nancy Xu. Their Argentine tango was all the more powerful for being so focussed. And, in Saturday night’s semi-final, Stephenson did himself proud with a fierce ballroom tango and shimmy-tastic samba – the latter even more explosive in the dance-off. In a less competitive season, he would surely have earned a place in the final with that.

Stephenson told presenter Tess Daly that he’d learnt so much from being on the show and, after watching his best bits, added “It’s good to cry, it’s good to feel. Strictly makes you feel things.” Quite right: it’s been a cathartic watch for us all this year. He also thanked Xu, who in return said that her first year as a competing pro had been absolutely epic.

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