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Richard Dunwoody and Lilia Kopylova


Strictly arrogant! Lilia blasts Gavin

He's found himself near the bottom of the leader board every week on Strictly - but it seems the show's former professional dancer Lilia Kopova has no sympathy for Gavin Henson, the rugby ace ex of Charlotte Church.

Lilia, who left the show earlier this year, accuses Gavin - partnered by 27-year-old Lithuanian Katya Virshalis on the show - of being arrogant and having the wrong attitude for the show.

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SCD professionals quit show

Ballroom professionals Matthew Cutler and Lilia Kopylova are to quit Strictly Come Dancing, the BBC has announced.

The pair were among the dancers asked to perform together in a professional troupe, rather than with celebrities, in a change of format for the show.

Cutler, who won with Alesha Dixon in 2007, is to concentrate on running his own dancing school and may choreograph some routines on the programme.

Kopylova's husband Darren Bennett will become a member of the new dance group.


Ian Waite, who partnered athlete Jade Johnson in the most recent series of the show, has also been confirmed as part of the professional troupe.

Four new recruits - one male and three female - will be announced as the new series approaches later this year.

Dancer Brian Fortuna announced in June that he would not return to the programme due to format changes.

At the time, other professionals said they had yet to come to a decision about their future.

Cutler said: "I've absolutely loved my time on Strictly, and now is a good time to focus on developing new areas of my career.

"I'm excited about having more time to commit to new projects and, of course, still having a hand in Strictly without all the training!"

Russian-born Kopylova, who won the 2005 series with cricketer Darren Gough, said she would miss working on the show, but was "looking forward to new opportunities ahead".

"Of course I will be there to support Darren and all of my fellow professionals," she added.

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Matthew & Lilia quit Strictly

The line-up for Strictly Come Dancing’s professional dance troupe has been revealed today – and two of its biggest stars have announced they are leaving the show.

Lilia Kopylova and Matthew Cutler have both decided to quit their roles on the dance show, however neither have ruled out making some guest appearances in the future.

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Shock for Strictly stars Darren and Lilia

Sheffield dance favourites Darren Bennett and Lilia Kopylova have been snubbed by Strictly Come Dancing bosses - who have axed them from competing with celebrities in the main section of the show.

Instead the couple - who are performing tonight in the second of two appearances at Sheffield City Hall in their hit Latin Fever show - would just be members of a dance troupe performing more 'spectacular' numbers.

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We’re wedded to the job

With rumours rife about the BBC giving the beloved Strictly Come Dancing a shake-up, there was always the worry that some of the professional dancers were going to be waltzing off the show.

But twinkle-toed man and wife Darren Bennett and Lilia Kopylova – dance mentors on the hit TV series – are taking the speculation in their stride.

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Dunwoody backs 'fantastic' Dixon

Strictly Come Dancing's controversial new judge Alesha Dixon said she felt able to "relax and be myself" after settling onto the show's judging panel.

The decision to replace veteran choreographer Arlene Phillips with the show's 2007 champion sparked angry comments on its website chat room with viewers complaining that the singer lacks the technical knowledge to judge others.

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Richard Dunwoody and Lilia Kopylova

Dunwoody second to leave Strictly

Jockey Richard Dunwoody has become the second celebrity to be voted off the new series of BBC One's Strictly Come Dancing show.

Dunwoody and his partner Lilia Kopylova were beaten in a dance-off by Coronation Street actor Craig Kelly.

Dunwoody said: "It's been an unbelievable experience."

Jo Wood, actresses Laila Rouass, Zoe Lucker and Natalie Cassidy, actor Ricky Whittle, cricketer Phil Tufnell, were all safe.

Votes cast by the public were added to the judges' scores, leaving the two dance pairs with the lowest scores to fight for survival in the dance-off.

His fate was sealed when judges Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli and Alesha Dixon all voted to save Kelly although head judge Len Goodman admitted he had planned to vote for Dunwoody.

Dunwoody's partner Lilia Kopylova described Dunwoody as "by far the most hard-working partner I have had" even though dancing did not come easily to him.

"And finally I'm going to learn how to ride horses," she said as she hugged him.

Hollyoaks star Ricky Whittle was top of the judges' leader board both nights this week.

The seven couples who survived Saturday's show join the seven which went through last week when tennis player Martina Hingis became the first to leave.

The 14 couples will compete against each other for the first time next Saturday.


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Richard Dunwoody falls at first fence!

ockey Richard Dunwoody has become the second casualty of Strictly Come Dancing after losing out to soap star Craig Kelly in the dance-off.

Dunwoody - who had been one of the outsiders to win the series - failed to impress the judges with either his tango on Friday night's show or his cha cha cha on Saturday's.

He is the second sportsperson in a row to be voted off the show following tennis ace Martina Hingis' departure last week.

Dunwoody described the experience of being on the show as "unbelievable" - and he also praised his dance partner Lilia Kopylova. "She has really done a tremendous job the last four weeks," he said.

Lilia, meanwhile, described him as "the most hard-working partner I've had".

Dunwoody finished towards the bottom of the scoreboard on both nights, with only Jo Wood finishing below him. However the public voted her back in for another week.

Earlier in the show, the judges had said that while his cha cha cha kept them entertained, his actual dancing abilities were somewhat lacking.

"You don't have natural rhythm," Alesha Dixon told him, "but you know what, I don't really care."

And Craig Revel Horwood grudgingly told Dunwoody, "It's left me with a smile on my face. In a vague sort of way I suppose it was entertaining."

Coronation Street star Craig Kelly, meanwhile, also left the judges underwhelmed but was praised for his efforts. "For me there was a lot of posing going on," Len Goodman told him, "but as always you came out and gave us a performance."

Elsewhere in the show - which saw the eight couples from Friday's show perform either a cha cha cha or a rumba - there was more praise for Hollyoaks star Ricky Whittle, who once again finished top of the scoreboard.

"You were born to dance," Craig told him following his rumba with partner Natalie Lowe. "That was absolutely amazing."

Footballers Wives actress Zoe Lucker also fared well, finishing second on the judges' scoreboard following her rumba. "The chemistry between you two is incredible," Bruno Tonioli said of Lucker and her dance partner James Jordan.

However the panel weren't so sure about Laila Rouass' cha cha cha, following rave reviews for her tango on Friday night.

"It was like a garden with no flowers," Len told her, "very safe."

And Jo Wood once again finished in last place, despite her best efforts with dance partner Brendan Cole. "The best part of that for me was when you were standing still," said Craig Revel Horwood of her rumba.


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Richard Dunwoody out of Strictly

Richard Dunwoody left Strictly Come Dancing tonight after failing to impress judges Craig Revel Horwood, Alesha Dixon and Bruno Tonioli in the Dance Off. 45-year-old Richard and professional partner Lilia Kopylova performed both a ballroom and Latin dance in the second week of the series.

Eight couples danced in this week's two shows. Performing two dances along with Richard Dunwoody were Eastenders actress Natalie Cassidy, Coronation Street actor Craig Kelly, Footballers' Wives actresses Laila Rouass and Zoe Lucker, model Jo Wood, ex-cricketer Phil Tufnell and Hollyoaks hunk Ricky Whittle.

Facing the Dance Off with Richard and Lilia were Coronation Street actor Craig Kelly and his pro-partner Flavia Cacace. Three of the judges chose to save Craig and Flavia after they performed their tango for a second time. Head judge Len Goodman chose to save Richard and Lilya but they were sent home on the majority vote rule.

Bottom of the leader board this weekend was Jo Wood. The former model and entrepreneur - best known for being the estranged wife of Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood - and pro-dancer Brendan Cole, who performed a tango and a rumba, were saved from the Dance Off by the public vote.

Top of the judges' leader board for week two was Hollyoaks actor Ricky Whittle. Ricky and pro-partner Natalie Holt performed a waltz and a rumba. The pair are now the bookies' favourite to win the series.

In addition to the competitive dances, jazz singer and pianist Jamie Cullum entertained the audience. The professional dancers also performed group routines showcasing next week's dances.

Next week's programme sees the remaining fourteen dancers perform either a quickstep or a paso doble. The next Strictly Come Dancing is on BBC One on Saturday at 7pm.


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Dunwoody survives his first 'Strictly' hurdle

JUDGE Bruno Tonioli accused him of not having a clue what he was doing, but Richard Dunwoody, racing's very own twinkletoes, survived his first experience of Strictly Come Dancing though is fearful of a savaging from the judges next weekend.

Dunwoody, ably assisted by former "Strictly" champion Lilia Kopylova, was joined by seven other celebrities and their professional partners in a Friday evening group mambo that left the excitable Tonioli mesmerised for all the wrong reasons.

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Jockey ready for Strictly TV test

HE claims he's got two left feet and poor balance - but Suffolk's horseracing star Richard Dunwoody has pledged to do his best in the new series of hit BBC show Strictly Come Dancing.

The jockey - who was brought up in Newmarket - has been partnered with 31-year-old Lilia Kopylova and has endured a “manic” past three weeks of training to get ready for the show.

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Richard Dunwoody and Lilia Kopylova

Richard Dunwoody & Lilia Kopylova

Three-time Champion Jockey Richard Dunwoody is one of Britain's most successful riders.

At the forefront of English National Hunt racing in the 80s and the 90s, he was victorious in the Big Three races – the Grand National, the Champion Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

His distinguished career and dedication to promoting the sport he loves earned him an MBE in 1993.

In becoming the first ever Jockey to foxtrot across the Strictly dancefloor, Richard hopes, that with the luck of the Irish, he will be galloping all the way to the final – adding the Strictly glitterball to his already heaving trophy cabinet.

Why did you agree to take part in Strictly?

The one great thing about this show is that you are learning a new skill, which really sets it apart from many other shows on TV. Dancing is not my forte but I wish I'd done it many years ago – I wish I had learned to dance!

I have had a couple of girlfriends who have been quite good dancers but sadly they have not been able to teach me anything about it. I have not had any training at all in my life.

I think the Tango is very hot, so I like the look of that. As long as I am able to learn to dance the tango on Strictly Come Dancing then I will be happy!

Lilia Kopylova

Lilia is 31 years old and a petite 5’3”. Her professional partner is Darren Bennett - they have been dancing since 1997 and are married. They turned professional in 2003. Her speciality is Latin American.

Lilia's grandmother signed her up for beginner Ballroom lessons at her local school. After just one lesson she was hooked by the elegance and glamour of the sport and has never looked back. By the time she was 12, Lilia was already Russian 10 Dance Champion (Ballroom and Latin combined).

The most memorable moment of Lilia's career was at the Open British at Blackpool in 2004. She and Darren walked out as part of the British Team, a moment that was even more special to them as it was their first major Professional Competition. Her other highlights are making the World Championship and European Championship final.

Lilia on Strictly

In Series 2 Lilia was paired with Aled Jones, and they were very popular with the public. They finished fourth overall and fourth in the Champion of Champions show.

Series 3 saw Lilia at her most successful, winning not only the series with partner Darren Gough, but going on to win the Christmas Special trophy too. "To start with I didn't think Darren would get very far… It never once entered my head we would win!"

Lilia returned to Series 4 and was paired with former England Rugby star Matt Dawson. They were the series runners up, just pipped at the post by Mark Ramprakash and Karen Hardy.

In Series 5, presenter Dominic Littlewood was Lilia's partner. They reached Show 5 before being knocked out of the competition.

Last year, Lilia was partnered by actor Don Warrington. They left the show after 3 dances, in week 5. "Don was a wonderful and very hard-working man, unfortunately it all got too nerve wracking for him on show days which made him forget his steps. He was physically shaking - what a shame."


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