It won’t come as a surprise to many that former England rugby star Ugo Monye lost the dance off and exited Strictly Come Dancing tonight, but if there was a prize for sheer guts, he’d be wearing the rosette.
It’s been revealed that the 38-year-old’s time on Strictly has triggered back problems so severe that he missed last week’s show while he recovered from spine injections.
Without blaming his physical battles himself, Ugo’s professional partner Oti Mabuse explained to the Mirror how excruciating the pain had been.
“Everybody knows I’m quite competitive, so when I go, I go,” she said. “It came to a point where he was really close to me and I’m like, ‘Stand up, why are you so close?’
“And he said, ‘I can’t stand up’ and every time I would speak he would lean against the wall just to take the weight off … Then eventually he couldn’t walk.”
Ugo and Oti performed a rumba to Leave The Door Open by Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak and Silk Sonic, while their surprise fellow cellar-dwellers in the dance off were Rhys Stephenson and his pro partner Nancy Xu, performing their American Smooth to I’ve Got The World On A String by Michael Bublé.
Ugo's exit was widely expected by fans after their performance on Saturday’s show.
I feel for Ugo so much because the Rumba is a mentally demanding dance. I felt like his injury held him back which was unfortunate. He needed more figure of 8 rotation. He was very wooden and stiff for me. He created a good atmosphere though.He could be for the chop tomorrow 😭😬October 23, 2021
And so it came to pass. The first three Strictly Come Dancing judges, Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Anton Du Beke, all chose to save Rhys and Nancy.
Anton explained: “Well, it so often turns out that the dance off seems to instil something in the couples and they’ve produced their best performances. So, on that performance alone, I’m going to give it to Rhys and Nancy.”
Ugo’s exit at week five may come as a relief after the pain he’s endured, but if Judi Love hadn’t had to stand down due to a positive Covid test, perhaps his run would have continued.
Ugo commented: “It’s an absolute privilege to be on this show and all I’ve wanted to do every week is just get a little bit better and I’ve done that.”
Of Craig’s consistently harsh criticism, Ugo said: “To the judges – Craig – I think it’s really important to say that if you’re willing to accept the positive comments, you have to accept the criticism as well so thank you for all of your comments.”
Next Saturday the remaining 10 pairs of dancers will feature in the Strictly Halloween special. Let’s hope the dance floor horror shows are restricted to the costumes and make-up!
Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.
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