News Flash: Dance off between Sunetra & Brendan and Steve & Ola, Steve Backshall eliminated


Strictly 2

Strictly 2

Dance Show 5

Samba and waltzing from the Blackpool tower.SARAH and BRENDAN opened the show from the Blackpool Tower with an ambitious Samba to "Kiss Kiss" - nearly derailed by Sarah's dress tangling in her heel. "A very good effort, but you didn't have your heart in it," sighed a disappointed Len. "You have to let yourself go," advised Bruno. "Colourless," dismissed Craig. "Where was the sex?" demanded Arlene.

SCORE: 23 (Craig: 5, Arlene: 6, Len: 6, Bruno: 6)

JULIAN and ERIN's Samba was received with roars from the crowd. "Definite improvement," said Craig, "Just a little bit dreary." Arlene wasn't impressed. Len was more swayed, "As soon as you got your maracas out, I knew we were in for a treat."

SCORE: 24 (Craig: 5, Arlene: 5, Len: 7, Bruno: 7)

DENISE and IAN Samba'd with spirit to "Tequila". "You really went for it," said an admiring Arlene. "Sultry! Exotic! Sexy!" applauded Bruno.

SCORE: 32 (Craig: 7, Arlene: 8, Len: 8, Bruno: 9)

ROGER and CAMILLA went out on a limb when they Samba'd to "We're Meant To Be Together". "Good attempt," said Bruno. "Clumpy, ungainly, no bounce," said Craig. "This dance sorts the men from the boys, Roger," sighed Arlene, "and tonight you were a boy."

SCORE: 23 (Craig: 4, Arlene: 5, Len: 7, Bruno: 7)

JILL and DARREN Samba'd to "Copacabana". "Bright, lively, full of fun..." enthused Len. The other judges fell in behind; "Pin-sharp footwork," said Bruno. "Very, very good," said Craig. "Excellent, you're a dancer!" applauded Arlene.

SCORE: 35 (Craig: 8, Arlene: 9, Len: 9, Bruno: 9)

ALED and LILIA Samba'd to "It's Not Unusual". Len was impressed - "Fabulous." Bruno was similarly moved, and even Arlene called it "Technically very great". Of course, Craig was a lone voice, "It didn't fly," he said, but took time out to commend Aled for some pulling off some tough moves.

SCORE: 30 (Craig: 6, Arlene: 8, Len: 8, Bruno: 8)

Remember the car crash last season when the couples all danced the Viennese Waltz? Everyone was keen not to see it happen again as the dancers sailed forth to the Corrs "Runaway". The judges praised Denise and Jill, but were critical of Roger's shoulders.

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I'm desperate to dance

Stunning Strictly Come Dancing star Sarah Manners is begging Mirror readers to save her from the chop tonight.In the first five weeks of competition, viewers have seen the 29-year-old Casualty favourite endure a massive falling out with her demanding dance partner Brendan Cole. The rows left her in tears.

And away from the dance floor Sarah's life has been equally tough as she films her biggest-ever scenes in the hospital drama while suffering a real-life cancer scare of her own.

STUNNER: Sarah has worked hard for a win

But now the dance partners have kissed and made up, and she's desperate to waltz her way to the final of the hit BBC1 show.

"I really hope people don't stop voting for us because they think we're not getting on and that I don't want to dance with him any more," she says.

"I do! I really want to continue because I'm enjoying it so much. We're having a fab time again.

"We almost went out of the show last week. It was horrible. When it came to the moment of truth I could feel Brendan's heart going 20 to the dozen and my own pounding like nobody's business.

"I'm absolutely loving it and I will be mortified when it's over."

Sarah says she really needs to stay in tonight because she has all of next week free to practice.

"But if we get kicked out this weekend I will be in bits," she says. "So Daily Mirror readers, please save me."

Brendan and Sarah found themselves in the spotlight from the beginning. The strapping Kiwi dancer had won the first series with BBC Breakfast presenter Natasha Kaplinsky.

Not only that but also Brendan and Natasha's on-screen chemistry developed into a full-blown affair away from the dance floor.

This time round romance is most certainly NOT in the air. Not only is Sarah happily married, but after a poor performance of the rumba in week two, Brendan stormed off set, refusing to talk to Sarah.

Then the partnership reached breaking point when dance star put one of his fast-moving feet firmly in his mouth.

A red-faced Sarah says: "I saw him on the BBC2 show saying I was like 'dancing with a brick wall' and I just burst into tears.

"I called him and told him I'd seen him slagging me off - and burst into tears again. I felt I'd let him down but I'm doing more than my best.

"Afterwards he felt terrible and was very, very apologetic. He really wishes he hadn't said it. Actually that is quite sad because he is fantastic. We have the best laugh.

"Dancers are very, very passionate and love what they do - and emotions are very high. When things are good they are very good and when they are not, that's heightened as well."

The TV cameras caught Sarah while she was still in an emotional state - but that's not how she wants to be remembered for her time on the show.

Hence her determination to put in a great performance when the pair dance a sultry samba to Holly Valance's hit Kiss Kiss tonight.

And she was able to put the tiff behind her after gaining sweet revenge on Brendan. Giggling, Sarah says: "Accidentally-on-purpose I almost broke his nose. I got him in the face with my elbow a few times.

"Afterwards I thought 'Poor bloke,' I felt so bad. He took it so well. I was cracking him on the nose and he just said, 'It's OK.' But it's a tough sport. Last year Natasha lost her toenails and they still haven't grown back. Poor girl.

"If I lose mine, it will be my own fault because I keep treading on my own feet." Much has been made of the battle of the blonde and the brunette with Sarah coming between Natasha and Brendan.

But when the bust-up came, Natasha was one of the first on the phone to her successor.

"She's such a lovely lady," says Sarah.

"She said Brendan's just a passionate man and I shouldn't take it personally. He's just a fiery guy."

The person most relieved to hear the partnership is pure professionalism is Sarah's husband, Ben.

While she films Casualty - in which she plays mouthy receptionist Bex Reynolds - and trains for the dancing down in Bristol, he stays at home in North London.

Sarah says: "We've been together six years and it's always been like this. Within three days of our first meeting I went off to Spain to shoot an advert.

"Ben never puts demands on me. If it was the other way round I couldn't handle watching him kiss other people and him being away all the time - so he's obviously a better person than me. He loves Strictly Come Dancing and is so excited about the whole thing.

"He comes along every week, sitting in the front row. He's more tense about it than me."

He may be one of the world's most understanding husbands, but Sarah is calling it a day on Casualty, and leaving next April so she can spend more time with Ben.

She says: "I've come to the end of my contract and don't want to do any more. I miss my husband and want to play a new character.

"I'm an actress and part of what I love is playing different characters. What I really want to do is one-off and two-part dramas and I'd desperately love to do a period drama.

"I've been shooting my biggest storyline since I started in Casualty. It's very emotional, very draining and really quite horrible but fantastic for me.

"I've had that and been trying to fit in the dancing as well, so I've had the hardest schedule out of everybody. Some couples have a whole week of practice. It's not unfair, but it is unfortunate."

Just before she started working on the celebrity dance show, Sarah had a mole removed from her arm as a precautionary measure.

"But test results showed yet more flesh needed to be cut out, giving her a real scare.

"I was very worried for a while, but they said it wasn't cancer. But it's better out than in, so check your moles, people!"

After all the highs and lows of the last few weeks, just how far can new best friends Sarah and Brendan go on the show?

Could Brendan even be a two-time winner?

"He said we can win, but I'm not looking at that," says Sarah. "I want to go as far as I can. I would love to get to the final, but I certainly want to get through next week.

"So give me a chance and please keep me in another couple of weeks at least."

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Under Pressure

Jill and Darren talk about staying on top of their game.Talking to Claudia on It Takes Two last night, Jill revealed that it's not outside pressure that she feels under.

"I don't think everyone thinks that, but I think you put pressure on yourself," she said. "You have to try and match what you got last week. But that won't always be possible."

Darren is feeling philosophical about it, believing there's no need to worry, "as long as you keep the same training regime... Each dance is so different – one week we may get a high score, the next we might not."

Claudia commended them on making what she feels is the dullest dance - the Foxtrot - come alive last week.

"All credit to Darren, it was the track [All That Jazz] – everybody loves that song. He made me enjoy that dance. I like to jig about – he calls me the wriggler."

Claudia then asked how she felt about stories in the press about the contest not being fair, because Jill has danced before.

"I was really up front. I [told them] I did ballet as a little girl and I'd love to do the show. It's a bit of gossip, I suppose. People thrive on it," Jill said.

But how do the couple feel about learning two dances this week?

"It's getting harder and harder because you get a shorter amount of time to train," explained Darren.

"It's really difficult when you've got the two dances to learn," agreed Jill.

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X Factor beaten in ratings by Strictly Come Dancing

BBC1 show Strictly Come Dancing beat the X Factor in the Saturday night ratings war this weekend.The ballroom dancing show, hosted by Bruce Forsyth and Natasha Kaplinsky, scored its highest ratings yet with 2 million more viewers than the ITV1 talent show.

An average of 8.4 million viewers, a record audience for Strictly Come Dancing's second series, tuned into the show. Simon Cowell's X Factor reached an average 7 million viewers, making it the second consecutive week that it has lost out to BBC1.

When the two shows went head to head, Strictly Come Dancing reached 8.8 million viewers and the X Factor, with judges Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh, reached 6.7 million.

When TV gardener Diarmuid Gavin was booted off during the results programme, Strictly Come Dancing pulled in 8.6 million viewers, outdoing ITV1's Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?, for which 6.1 million viewers tuned in.

The X Factor results show, when Voices with Soul were voted off, attracted 6.3 viewers.

The X Factor had beaten the first two instalments of Strictly Come Dancing.

A BBC insider said: "When the show was first announced there were many raised eyebrows about celebrities doing the pasodoble on a Saturday night. But we're really pleased with how successful it's been. It's been a surprise hit."

ITV1 said the X Factor was performing "exceptionally well" with its target audience of 16 to 34-year-olds.

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Strictly Come Dancing gives lead to Beeb

In the past it has always seemed that the BBC’s reality/talent shows have not quite hit the mark against their commercial competitors, but Strictly Come Dancing appears to be turning the tables.The celebrity dance contest, hosted by Bruce Forsyth and Natasha Kaplinsky, beat the X Factor with both installments of the show.

The first Strictly Come Dancing at 6.35pm pulled in an audience share of 38.7% and 8.4 million viewers on average. The second show of the evening at 8.20pm, when the results are declared, succeeded in attracting 8.6 million average audience and a share of 38%.

In contrast, X Factor managed 7 million audience for its first instalment at 6.55pm, equating to a share of 31.9%. The result programme came at 9pm and attracted an average audience of 6.3 million, a share of 27.3%. Figures not to be scoffed at, but it does seem that the Beeb has the edge between these too programmes.

Other ratings highlights over the weekend included some big movie terrestrial premiers. Channel 4 broadcast Bridget Jones’s Diary at 9.25pm on Saturday night and it notched a 5.9 million average audience, a 26.8% share.

Five had its own big movie night when they premiered Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines at 9pm on Sunday evening - just to remind the nation that work on Monday morning really isn’t the end of the world. The sci-fi action clocked an average audience of 4.5 million and a share of 18.8%.

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BBC dancing away in the ratings war

BBC1 show Strictly Come Dancing beat the X Factor in the Saturday night ratings war this weekend.The ballroom dancing show, hosted by Bruce Forsyth and Natasha Kaplinsky, scored its highest ratings yet with 2 million more viewers than the ITV1 talent show.

An average of 8.4 million viewers, a record audience for Strictly Come Dancing's second series, tuned into the show.

Simon Cowell's X Factor reached an average 7 million viewers, making it the second consecutive week that it has lost out to BBC1.

When the two shows went head to head, Strictly Come Dancing reached 8.8 million viewers and the X Factor, with judges Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh, reached 6.7 million.

When TV gardener Diarmuid Gavin was booted off during the results programme, Strictly Come Dancing pulled in 8.6 million viewers, outdoing ITV1's Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?, for which 6.1 million viewers tuned in.

The X Factor results show, when Voices with Soul were voted off, attracted 6.3 million viewers. The X Factor had beaten the first two instalments of Strictly Come Dancing.

A BBC insider said: "When the show was first announced there were many raised eyebrows about celebrities doing the pasodoble on a Saturday night.

"But we're really pleased with how successful it's been. It's been a surprise hit."

ITV1 said the X Factor was performing "exceptionally well" with its target audience of 16 to 34-year-olds.

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ITV reels as Brucie hit beats X Factor

ITV chiefs are to hold crisis talks after the X Factor slumped against BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing in Saturday night's ratings war.ITV chiefs are to hold crisis talks after the X Factor slumped against BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing in Saturday night's ratings war.

The celebrity dancing contest, hosted by Bruce Forsyth and Natasha Kaplinsky, drew 8.6million viewers to see TV gardener Diarmuid Gavin kicked out.

Over on ITV1, only 6.3 million watched Voices with Soul voted off the X Factor talent show.

Throughout the night, BBC1 had a 33 per cent share of the prime-time TV audience compared to ITV1's 25 per cent.

ITV's new show With a Little Help From My Friends featuring Vinnie Jones bombed with 3.8 million viewers against The Weakest Link with 6.6 million.

And 5.5 million watched the BBC's Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance while ITV's The Great British Pop Test drew four million.

Meanwhile Voices with Soul told yesterday how their mentor and judge Louis Walsh wept in his dressing room after voting them off the X Factor in favour of opera boys G4.

They also said judge Sharon Osbourne, who also voted against them, was too upset to talk to them afterwards.

Sisters Grace, 42, and Hildia Campbell, 37, and Grace's daughter Corene, 25, said: "We love Louis. It was a difficult decision for him to make."

Ladbrokes have Tabby Callaghan 5/4 favourite to win X Factor. Steve Brookstein is 2/1, Rowetta Satchell 5/1, G4 7/1 and Cassie Compton 9/1.

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Dance show ratings shuffle ahead

Strictly Come Dancing beat ITV's TV talent contest The X Factor in the ratings on Saturday.The BBC show, which has celebrities learn to ballroom dance and compete against each other, was watched by 8.4 million people.

An average of seven million tuned in to watch Simon Cowell judge the musical talent on The X Factor.

This is a reverse of the opening weeks of both series, which saw The X Factor edge out Strictly Come Dancing.

A BBC spokesman said: "We are thrilled so many people are enjoying Strictly Come Dancing, we are confident it will get a lot more exciting as the series nears the final on 11 December."

Strictly Come Dancing goes out at 6.30pm, while The X Factor starts 15 minutes later. Both return for short updates later in the evening to give the results of the votes of who will be eliminated.

Last Saturday saw TV garden designer Diarmuid Gavin fail to impress with his pasa doble with professional dancer Nicole Cutler.

Last year's contest was won by news presenter Natasha Kaplinsky, who has stepped in to host the show in the temporary absence of Tess Daly who is on maternity leave.

Target audience

Viewers of The X Factor witnessed the group Voices with Soul voted off the show, leaving just five acts competing for a record contract.

Irish rock singer Tabby is currently the bookmakers' favourite to win the show overall.

ITV said the show was performing "exceptionally well" with its target audience of 16 to 34-year-olds.

Channel 4 enjoyed ratings success on Saturday with the terrestrial premiere of Bridget Jones's Diary, broadcast as the sequel was hitting the cinemas.

An average six million viewers watched Renee Zellweger's comedy exploits as the single woman who manages to fall into a string of embarrassing situations.

And 5.5 million tuned in to the BBC's coverage of the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance broadcast from London's Royal Albert Hall.

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Dance Show 4

Jill's stunning foxtrot, and Julian's stunning outburst.We're halfway through - has Diarmuid found his feet at last?

DENISE and IAN regained ground from last week with a slinky Foxtrot to "Let There Be Love." Len was touched, "That was floaty floaty all the way!" Bruno agreed, "The Panther is back."

SCORE: 30 (Craig: 7, Arlene: 7, Len: 8, Bruno: 8)

SARAH and BRENDAN went for a gothic Paso Doble to "Save Me From Myself". "Are you alright?" asked Bruce as Sarah staggered off the floor. "All a bit eighties," tutted Bruno, "but you were brave." Arlene praised it for great drama, but wanted to see more Paso Doble steps. Even Len was slightly nonplussed - "Great cabaret..."

SCORE: 29 (Craig: 8, Arlene: 7, Len: 6, Bruno: 8)

ALED and LILLIA foxtrotted to "It Ain't What You Do." Arlene was disappointed, "Rather wooden, I didn't feel any pleasure in the dance from you." Len was hard on Aled's footwork - "All balls and no heels." Oddly, Craig came out in praise of the pair. "It must be a full moon," gasped Bruno.

SCORE: 25 (Craig: 7, Arlene: 6, Len: 6, Bruno: 6)

JULIAN and ERIN did a Paso Doble to the "Entry of the Toreodors" with Julian as a flamboyant bullfighter. "It was touch and go as to whether you or the bull would win," said Len. Craig was harsh on the pair - but Julian was harsher: "You wouldn't know a Paso Doble if it sat on you," he snapped. The crowd went wild. Julian's let on that he's enjoying it now, "Dancing has taken over my life."

SCORE: 20 (Craig: 4, Arlene: 5, Len: 6, Bruno: 5)

ROGER and did a skilled Foxtrot. Bruno compared the athlete to a matinee idol, and Craig was so impressed by it he was "bored". Arlene thought it was "beautiful".

SCORE: 29 (Craig: 6, Arlene: 8, Len: 8, Bruno: 7)

DIARMUID and NICOLE threw themselves into a Paso Doble to "L'amour est un oiseau rouge". He tried his best to overcome the hamstring injury and the criticism. Craig and Arlene were sympathetic, and only Len could see an improvement in "Dominant Diarmuid".

SCORE: 17 (Craig: 3, Arlene: 4, Len: 5, Bruno: 5)

JILL and DARREN foxtrotted through "All That Jazz", leaving the judges floored. Bruno and Len were amazed at their professionalism, and even Craig had little to carp at.

SCORE: 34 (Craig: 8, Arlene: 9, Len: 9, Bruno: 8)

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City's dancing queen and king

A strictly Sheffield final could be one the cards for television's hit dance contest Strictly Come Dancing as the city's husband and wife rivals Darren Bennett and Lilia Kopylova retain their places at the top of the league.Darren and celebrity partner EastEnders star Jill Halfpenny are now favourites to win the show, following last weekend's show-stopping jive routine which bowled over both the judges and the voting public.

Their performance is now so strong that bookies have reduced their odds to 4-5, a sure sign that they are expected to take away the coveted Strictly Come Dancing trophy.

But at the same time, Darren's wife Lilia and her partner Aled Jones, also danced up a storm last Saturday to take place second place, just two points behind the favourites.

And as both couples prepare for a foxtrot this week, both Lilia and Darren are increasingly hopeful that the BBC1 show's finalwill be a Sheffield event.

"I think from our point of view, if we are both in the final it will be great," said Russian-born Lilia. "If Darren wins I will be happy for him and if I win he will be happy for me. To be honest, there is no rivalry between us - we genuinely want each other to do well." Lilia admits that she hadn't even heard of singer and broadcaster Aled Jones before being she met him at the start of the star-studded competition, in aid of the BBC's Children in Need appeal.

But she is delighted at the way he has improved since the contest began, quickly emerging as the most confident male celebrity dancer in a lineup that also includes Julian Clary, Roger Black and Diarmuid Gavin.

"Aled keeps telling me he's rubbish but he picks everything up very quickly and with his musical background that really helps," Lilia said. "He did forget some steps in the jive last week which really scared me but I was really happy because the way he handled it was very good."

Strictrly Come Dancing, BBC1, Saturday, 6.35

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Shall He Dance?

How are Julian and Erin doing this week?Joining Claudia on last night's It Takes Two were Julian Clary, Erin Boag and Julian's dog Valerie.

Claudia opened her questioning by asking if Julian was enjoying taking part in the contest.

"Yes, in an absolutely terrified way," he said. "It's so stressful, you just get through the week and you think, 'I can face the public' with whatever it is, you get through it and then it's the next week and you have to start all over again.

"I love being locked in a room with Erin for hours on end, that's my idea of fun. It's changed my life being with [Erin]."

Claudia then told Julian how his friend Denise Van Outen had said on the show that she couldn't get Julian to dance, even on holiday in Maguluf.

"Have you been to Maguluf? It's very rough! I used to disco dance years ago. I came off the dance floor in 1984 and some vicious queen said, 'Well, you realise you can't dance' and so I thought, 'well I won't dance any more'. So this was a bit of a 'will I-won't I, can I make myself do this?' situation."

When confronted with footage of the pair's rehearsal Julian said, "We've got better since then. We've had a breakthrough."

"Last night I gave myself a talking to. If you're going to do it you might as well do it properly, rather than be so defeatist."

But what has aided this breakthrough? "I got Paul Killick in today who's known as Paso Doble king," said Erin, "just to give Julian some advice and make him understand the dance."

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Beauty before age

Esther shows older women how to shine. As Esther Rantzen strode down the red carpet at the opening night of The Producers, she exuded glamour and vitality.Decked out in a tight purple frock and newly dyed hair, the 64-year-old broadcaster known for her big teeth and mumsy demeanour looked a different woman.

Despite being voted out of the BBC show Strictly Come Dancing last Saturday, Esther seemed more confident and in better shape than ever.

There was a time when a woman could consider herself at her peak at 21, mature at 40 - and positively past it by 50. But no longer. These days, we just get better with age.

Call it good bone structure, put it down to expensive face creams or even the surgeon's knife - it doesn't matter.

At last, older women don't have to worry about being called "mutton dressed as lamb" if they dare to glam themselves up for a night out.

And many, like Esther, look better now than they did in their twenties.

Here is a selection of well-preserved stars who have dumped the decades.

BEFORE: Esther used to dress like a middle-aged Tory party activist.

NOW: She has lost weight, changed her hairstyle for the first time in years and chosen a far more daring dress.

HER SECRET: Ballroom dancing. Esther lost nearly half a stone training for Strictly Come Dancing. She also trimmed 3ins off her waistline. "My children tell me that I've lost 10 years, simply by correcting my posture," she says. "My neck lengthened, my back straightened."CAROL VORDERMAN BEFORE: When quiz-show brainbox Carol started totting up the sums on C4's Countdown 21 years ago she was a shy, overweight maths swot.

NOW: She has dropped two dress sizes and gone from a plain Jane to drop-dead gorgeous.

HER SECRET: A mid-life crisis inspired Carol to lose the pounds on a detox diet and turn back the clock.SHARON OSBOURNE BEFORE: She looked frumpy and mumsy, weighing a whopping16st. "I would eat and eat and eat until I was sick - I suppose it was low self-esteem," she said.

NOW: At 51, the gorgeous wife of rocker Ozzie weighs just eight and a half stone.

HER SECRET: Four years ago Sharon had a "gastric banding" op to stop over-eating. Then there's her £120,000 of plastic surgery.HILLARY CLINTONBEFORE: Wearing huge Deirdre Barlow glasses and with a dowdy haircut, she looked like a mousy librarian - not an ambitious young lawyer.

NOW: Not a blonde hair is out of place. She wears contact lenses and sharp designer suits.

HER SECRET: She looked at photo-graphs of Margaret Thatcher's chang-ing image as PM and it inspired herANNE ROBINSONBEFORE: Wrinkles, harsh red hair.

NOW: At 60, the Queen of Mean looks 20 years younger in The Weakest Link. She has trendy new glasses, blonde highlights and a softer hairstyle.

HER SECRET: Anne used to deny having surgery, putting it down to a brilliant make-up artist and weight loss. But this year she admitted to a facelift and advised all women to have one.EMMA THOMPSONBEFORE: She went to a premiere with shocking red hair and wearing Doc Martens and was known for dungarees and cropped hair.

NOW: Stunning at 45, sporting a golden tan and long blonde hair and wearing sexy clothes.

HER SECRET: Marrying a younger man. Emma wed handsome Greg Wise, 38, last year.

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Dancers Reunited

Brendan and Sarah are now firm friends.Talking to Claudia on the BBC Two show, Sarah and Brendan explained they were getting along famously after last week's bust up.

"It was hairy scary, but we're friends now," said Sarah.

"It was a moment of madness," Brendan explained. "I said something I shouldn't have said. I was completely wrong and it was blown hell for leather. We're good mates. Unfortunately I do say what I think and I should learn to keep my mouth shut sometimes."

"You know where you stand with Brendan," said Sarah. "You're really passionate, you dancing lot – everything's really heightened for them."

Sarah went on to say she was delighted with their Tango last Saturday. Claudia asked why she thought they did so well.

"It's simply because there are some dances I find much easier and come more naturally to me and others don't," Sarah said

"It's a great dance for passion and excitement. We went out there together and we did 100% for each other," said Brendan.

But how will they fare this week?

"My schedule at the moment is unbelievable. I can't rehearse as much as everybody else. So I'm just doing the best I can," said Sarah.

The pair then revealed that they are going a tad gothic with their Paso Doble.

"I'm sacrificing myself on the thighs of Brendan Cole," revealed Sarah.

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Esther's out in style

After Esther Rantzen was voted off Strictly Come Dancing, she raved about how much she had enjoyed taking part in the show.She says she has lost weight, taken four inches off her waist and had learned how to keep her back straight, her shoulders back and her head high. Esther swears that she will not continue to take dancing lessons as a means of keeping young.

Contrast Esther with Carol Vorderman who, the week before, complained bitterly of the criticism and bitchiness she had endured.

Esther’s have-a-go optimism is so much more attractive than Carol’s carping.

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Strong weekend for ITV and BBC

The big players were out on Saturday evening for BBC1 and ITV1 and both channels had a decent evening.On ITV The X Factor (6pm) continued and pulled in a share of 30.9%, an average audience of 6.5 million people.

However, nearly as many people tuned in for the results of the talent contest at 9.25pm, when a share of 28.4% watched, an audience of 6.4 million people.

Meanwhile, the Beeb had its own talent contest of the ballroom dancing variety. Strictly Come Dancing notched an average audience of 6.9 million people at 6.30pm, equalling a share of 32.2%.

The second instalment of the show at 8.35pm did even better with 8.3 million people tuning in, a 37.5% share.

On Sunday evening, Michael Palin signed off his travels in the last in the series of his Himalaya programme – an audience of 7.4 million people watched the former Python journey from Bhutan to the Bay of Bengal, a 28.6% share.

ITV1 countered with their drama Foyle’s War (9pm), about a detective during World War Two – it clocked 7.7 million and a very healthy share of 32.8%.

On Channel 4 between 9pm and 11.10pm the UK Music Hall of Fame countdown proved that nostalgia just isn’t what it used to be as it was watched by just 1.1 million average audience, a share of 4.7%.

On ITV The X Factor (6pm) continued and pulled in a share of 30.9%, an average audience of 6.5 million people.

However, nearly as many people tuned in for the results of the talent contest at 9.25pm, when a share of 28.4% watched, an audience of 6.4 million people.

Meanwhile, the Beeb had its own talent contest of the ballroom dancing variety. Strictly Come Dancing notched an average audience of 6.9 million people at 6.30pm, equalling a share of 32.2%.

The second instalment of the show at 8.35pm did even better with 8.3 million people tuning in, a 37.5% share.

On Sunday evening, Michael Palin signed off his travels in the last in the series of his Himalaya programme – an audience of 7.4 million people watched the former Python journey from Bhutan to the Bay of Bengal, a 28.6% share.

ITV1 countered with their drama Foyle’s War (9pm), about a detective during World War Two – it clocked 7.7 million and a very healthy share of 32.8%.

On Channel 4 between 9pm and 11.10pm the UK Music Hall of Fame countdown proved that nostalgia just isn’t what it used to be as it was watched by just 1.1 million average audience, a share of 4.7%.

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Strictly 2

Dance Show 3

Diarmuid dived, while Jill jived her way to the top.ROGER and CAMILLA jived to "Teenage Wedding" to rapturous applause from the audience. "Fabulous effort," cooed Len. Bruno said Roger's footwork needs more care, but still called him "Elvis". Even Craig praised the "naughtiness" and Arlene was amazed.

SCORE: 25 (CRAIG: 6 ARLENE: 6 LEN: 7 BRUNO: 6 )

JULIAN and ERIN tangoed to "Roxanne", with Julian trying out a new, aggressive personality called "Carlos". "More Carlotta, really," sighed Craig. Len didn't agree - "Carlos the Jackal."

SCORE: 27 (CRAIG: 6 ARLENE: 7 LEN: 7 BRUNO: 7 )

JILL and DARREN showed off their chemistry with a raunchy jive to "I'm Still Standing" - or, as Darren put it "sleeveless top, loads of muscle, yeah, yeah, yeah." The audience were standing their feet - and so were the judges: "Brilliant," said Len; "A masterclass in jive," purred Bruno.

SCORE: 35 (CRAIG: 8 ARLENE: 9 LEN: 9 BRUNO: 9 )

ESTHER and ANTON returned from an exotic cruise to perform an equally exotic tango. "Technically an absolute distaster, but dramatically I thought it was triumphant," demurred Craig. "You certainly told a story," admitted Arlene.

SCORE: 16 (CRAIG:2 ARLENE: 4 LEN: 5 BRUNO: 5 )

DENISE and IAN managed an unusual jive to Rachel Stevens' "Some Girls". Did they get what they wanna, wanna? "More kitten than panther," tutted Bruno, "but I liked the rapport between the two of you."

SCORE: 25 (CRAIG: 6 ARLENE: 6 LEN: 6 BRUNO: 7 )

DIARMUID and NICOLE tried their best tango, but Arlene laid into them. Len leapt in to support them, but then Craig shouted "painful to watch." That did it. Bruce snapped back "Well, sometimes you're painful to listen to." Craig was silenced.

SCORE: 14 (CRAIG: 2 ARLENE: 3 LEN: 5 BRUNO: 4 )

ALED and LILLIA stormed past injury to a strong jive to "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." Arlene praised the fact that he was the first male celebrity to lead his partner.

SCORE: 32 (CRAIG: 8 ARLENE: 8 LEN: 8 BRUNO: 8 )

SARAH and BRENDAN have had a tough week with each other, but overcame their animosity to tango to "Hernando's Hideaway". "Back on form," admired Len.

SCORE: 31 (CRAIG: 7 ARLENE: 8 LEN: 8 BRUNO: 8 )

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Strictly 2

Esther's Out

We lose a legend. And the gardener's still there.Could Diarmuid be the new Christopher Parker? With the gardener saved by overwhelming public vote, it was surprise curtains for Esther and Anton.

Esther paid tribute to Anton for giving her confidence and posture, and to the judges for being harsh but fair.

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Strictly 2

City dance stars plan quick step to glory

The tempo's speeding up for Sheffield stars Darren Bennett and Lilia Kopylova as they get ready for the third round of tomorrow's TV hit Strictly Come Dancing.Last weekend saw Darren and his partner, EastEnders star Jill Halfpenny, take the top spot and the judges' praise with a sultry rumba, while Lilia and broadcaster partner Aled Jones came in a close third, impressing the judges with their sprightly quickstep.

This weekend both couples will be dancing the jive, while other celebrity competitors will be performing Argentinian dance classic the tango. "Last week was great, we really enjoyed it," said Darren. "And the ballroom dancing really came together for Lilia because it was the first time she'd done it for a long time.

"But I think we're really going to enjoy it this weekend. It's our first up-tempo week and up to now it's been a little bit slow with things like the rumba and the waltz so we're looking forward, all of us, to going out there and kicking it up!" He's making no predictions – especially after Saturday's surprise elimination for Countdown's Carol Vorderman – but Darren remains confident. "I'd like to think we could be in the top three again," he said. "We're trying hard to retain our place and to keep the standard of performance high each week – that's our main aim."

The poorest dancer technically remains gardener Diarmuid Gavin but he continues to survive on the strength of the viewer vote and is now into his third week after the experts predicted an early departure.

Despite the early morning practices so that Jill can get to the EastEnders set, and the tension of Saturday nights, Darren promises one thing.

"I never don't smile," he laughed. "All you can see is teeth on the TV!"

Strictly Come Dancing, BBC1, Saturday, 6.30

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Strictly 2

Jill and Aled

The two contestants tell all on It Takes Two.Joining Claudia last night were Aled Jones and Jill Halfpenny.

Claudia first turned her attention to Aled. Was he loving the dancing? she enquired.

"I love it. I was petrified to start with, especially when I got my first costume fitting. I don't do diamonds really. I do ruffs and surplices... I'm enjoying all the fitness thing and Lilia's good fun."

"Yeah, yeah you've lost weight. We all know!" Jill joked, You've done really well, I'm just jealous."

Claudia asked them if it was easier than last Saturday.

"I think we were both saying that the second week was less terrifying," said Jill

Surely she was used to tough tasks after kissing Dirty Den and Phil Mitchell on EastEnders?

"That's nothing compared to this. I could do that twenty times. I never thought it would be that scary," revealed Jill.

Aled had a revelation of his own: "Lilia said to me on Saturday 'I haven't ballroom dance for fifteen years, I'm petrified'. So I found myself going 'Don't worry darling, we'll be alright'."

But at other times Lilia's mood can be quite different, giving Aled terrors. "Lilia just says don't cock up or I'll kill you, I'll whip you" he said

After watching rehearsal footage Aled said, "I feel sick, I feel awful. I've got huge boobs. I may have lost my belly but it's gone to my boobs."

"It's OK, girls love that in a boy," Claudia lied, before asking Jill if she was enjoying the Jive.

"It is enjoyable because it's fun and bouncy, but you need to wear a sports bra."

"I wouldn't, because I've got nothing – Aled's got more than me!" joked Claudia.

So do they feel more confident as the week's progress?

"It's four hours of doing the same dance. If anyone mentions She Bangs by Ricky Martin, I throw up," said Aled

"I think in all honesty you put more demands on yourself. If you do well one week you go to yourself 'Well I have to do well next week'," said Jill.

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Strictly 2

Out but not down

Carol and Paul reveal their thoughts about leaving.Joining Claudia Winkleman on Monday's It Takes Two were this week's departing dancers Carol Vorderman and Paul Killick.

Claudia asked why they thought they'd been knocked out?

"It was all that Craig. It's the face. It's just all Craig," replied Paul, obviously in devilish mood.

Talking on the phone Carol said, "I had a thoroughly good time on Saturday. I hated the first show, I felt sick. But it wasn't Craig it was Arlene."

"It's quite interesting, because there are two gangs of contestants. We all stand to the right of Bruce [at the sart of the show] and we all know that we're all a bit rubbish. Those to the left they are kind of in it to win it."

"We really went for it. I know we weren't fabulous but I know I did as best as I could have done."

After watching some footage of Paul backbiting the judges, Claudia asked Craig if he regretted his words.

"Absolutely not, you've got to say your piece, haven't you? Go for it!" he said.

But did Carol think she'd be out so early? "Yes I did. I guessed I would be back in either week 1, 2, 3, or 4."

Claudia went on to ask her about her injury. Carol made light of the incident, "You just be very careful, Claudia That man next to you can do you serious damage," she joked.

Who do they think will win the competition?

"I would love Diarmuid to go all the way to the final. They are all nice, but I think Aled will win," said Carol

Paul disagreed, "I think that Denise is going to win," he said.

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