Alexandra Burke has opened up about how “heart-breaking” it was to perform on Strictly Come Dancing without friend Aston Merrygold.

The ex-JLS star was one the favourites to win the competition when he was controversially sent packing the week before last.

The 29-year-old made his exit after judge Shirley Ballas had the final, casting vote – following a dance off with Mollie King.

Ok so lemme do this properly!! @bbcstrictly thank you so much for letting me be apart of such a great year I've made some amazing new homies!! Class of 17 you are all f***ing brilliant can't wait for our catch up night out.. good luck to you all!! Every single person that commented, posted, voted every week thank you so much for the love and chance to do what I love to do most.. ENTERTAIN!! All you strictly pros.. you are all ridiculously talented and I've loved watching and learning from you all. But the biggest shout out and thank you to my dance partner @jmanrara also known as the Latin sensation! (As seen in the video) You have made this whole experience perfect! From AMAZING routines every week, to fun and help in rehearsals, to being a great friend from it take 2 to chill time with team45! Guys life is great I'm gutted obviously but… I'm not sad that it's over, I'm happy that it got to happen! 🙌🏾🙏🏾❤ next stop and adventure being a daddy 😁❤😍 oh and some music n tours n shiiiiiiiet.. But daddy first ha!

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Burke, who won the X Factor in the same year JLS were runners up, wrote in the Radio Times: “Saturday was heart-breaking, to be honest. I’m very close to Aston and preparing for the live show without him was really hard.

“Aston going was a shock. Big-time. Seeing someone so talented leave the competition reminded us all that it could be any one of us.”

After Merrygold’s shock exit, Burke wrote on Twitter: “Truly sad to see you both go.”

Merrygold and partner Janette Manrara were forced to perform in the dance off after judge Craig Revel Horwood gave them a measly four points for their Viennese Waltz.

Singer Burke is now one of the favourites to win the BBC show, finishing joint top of the leaderboard on Saturday with 38 points after performing the first Argentine Tango of the series.

She will join the other seven remaining contestants for a special show filmed at the ballroom dancing capital Blackpool.

:: The Radio Times is out now