Dan Walker: Strictly Come Dancing star pays emotional tribute to partner Nadiya Bychkova after week 11 exit
Dan Walker has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing just a week before the semi-finals – and has paid tribute to professional partner Nadiya.
After 11 weeks of dancing, BBC Breakfast presenter Dan has had his hopes of winning the Glitter Ball trophy dashed.
He was voted off Strictly on Sunday, December 5, after failing to win over both the judges and the public with his tango to Santa Maria by Gotan Project.
He and Nadiya faced AJ Odudu and her partner Kai Widdrington in the dance off, with all four judges voting to save the latter.
And Dan himself agreed with the results, telling presenter Tess Daly: “By the way, I would have saved AJ and Kai as well.”
Over recent weeks he has experienced trolling and online abuse from people who have been unhappy about his success on the hit BBC dancing show.
Dan and Nadiya made it through to the quarter finals despite repeatedly receiving lower scores than many other couples in the competition, leading some people to make unfounded accusations that the show had been fixed.
Responding to the trolls, Dan tweeted: “Thank you to everyone who is sending lovely messages and enjoying us having fun on Strictly, and to the few who say… ‘just leave’, ‘aren’t you ashamed?’, ‘you’re a disgrace’, ‘it’s a fix’ (which I don’t get) or ‘who is voting for them?’, IT’S A TV SHOW!”
Although his success on the show has now come to an end, Dan has thanked his friend and professional partner Nadiya Bychkova for her support during his Strictly journey.
What did Dan Walker say about Nadiya Bychkova on Strictly Come Dancing?
Despite not making it through to the semi-finals, the pair received plenty of praise for their performance in the dance-off this week.
Judge Craig Revel Horwood, who is well-known for being brutally honest – and often harsh – with contestants, said Dan did a ‘great job’ in the dance off.
He added: “Being honest, that is the best I think I’ve seen you dance, ever.”
His comments were echoed by judges Motsi Mobuse and Anton Du Beke, who said both pairs ‘danced brilliantly’.
But AJ and Kai ultimately won the dance off, leaving Dan and Nadiya with the sad news that they would be leaving the competition.
In an emotional speech after the result, Dan paid tribute to Nadiya for her help during their time on the show.
He said: “The last 11 weeks have been absolutely amazing, I genuinely have loved every second of it. If I go back to the first day when we were asked to dance in front of some glitter balls, and at that point if there had been a fire exit, I felt that uncomfortable I’d have just walked away.
"But this amazing woman sort of grabbed me by the hand and brought me out on the dancefloor and I’m not a dancer but she showed me that I can dance, and that for me has been an absolutely incredible experience and I have really loved it.
"Can I say as well, thank you to the judges because your feedback every week has been brilliant and really constructive and really helpful, and everyone over there - my fellow competitors - it’s a pleasure to be part of a show that means so much to so many people.
"I also want to mention this amazing woman next to me who - there are some people who walk into your life and they turn some lights on and that’s what she has done for me, because she’s an amazing person and if you’ll have me, I’ll be your friend for life, Nadiya Bychkova, okay?”
Nadiya seemed keen to accept the offer, as she wiped away some tears and tried to put on a brave face.
She replied: “Like you said, sometimes the right person walks into your life at the right time and that’s what happened. He always encourages everyone here as well, you always have time for everyone, and it just inspires me to be a better person myself. Thank you.”
The pair have formed a strong friendship while training for Strictly as Nadiya moved to Sheffield and has often been out for dinner with Dan and his family.
The couples left alongside AJ and Kai for the Strictly Come Dancing semi-finals are: Rhys Stephenson and Nancy Xu, Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice, and John Whaite and Johannes Radebe.
The next episode airs on Saturday, December 11 at 7.05pm on BBC One.