The most intensive ballroom dance training there is doesn’t transform everyone into a semi-pro superstar – some people are beyond even Strictly’s help.
Even the series champion finds themselves forgotten about a few years down the line unless they were particularly amazing, but the worst dancers live much longer in the memory.
Here’s the Strictly Come Dancing hall of fame for the show’s worst-ever contestants.
John Sergeant (2008)
Perhaps the most iconic of all bad Strictly dances is John Sergeant and Kristina Rihanoff’s Paso Doble.
John was terrible right from the very start, but the peak of his awfulness came during this dance when he dragged Kristina along the floor by her leg in the least graceful move we’ve ever seen.
Ironically, it was John’s lack of skill that kept the viewers voting for him week after week, and eventually he had to bow out of the show, saying: “The trouble is that there is now a real danger that I might win the competition. Even for me that would be a joke too far.”
Ann Widdecombe (2010)
Rivalling John for the crown of worst dancer in Strictly’s history is Ann Widdecombe – Anton Du Beke must still be living in terror of being matched with someone worse than her.
Both Ann and Anton took their status as worst couple with good grace, playing up to their comedy side in each routine.
Particularly memorable were routines involving Ann flying on wires, a Titanic theme, and Anton swinging Ann around the dancefloor by one ankle and wrist.
Ed Balls (2016)
The king of dad dancing, Ed Balls suffered a chronic lack of rhythm no matter what the dance style.
He and Katya Jones were one of the series’ most popular couples, though, thanks to them fully embracing the ridiculousness of his moves.
Ed’s highlights on the show included a Gangnam Style themed Salsa, and some enthusiastic thrusting during his Halloween Cha Cha to Love Potion No 9.
Dave Myers (2013)
The Hairy Biker sadly didn’t manage the same speed on the dancefloor as he does on his bike, but attacked the competition with his trademark enthusiasm.
Partnered with Karen Clifton, he stumbled his way through a Monster Mash Jive and a Meatloaf-inspired Paso Doble to the delight of laughing viewers.
Dave’s opening performance of a Cha Cha to Moves Like Jagger introduced him as one of the stompiest dancers we’ve ever seen, but he was still a joy to watch because he enjoyed every second of his terrible routines.
Judy Murray (2014)
As soon as Judy Murray was matched with Anton Du Beke, we could have predicted that she would be the worst act of the series as Anton attracts bad dancers like a magnet.
“Wooden” is a criticism often levelled at Strictly contestants, but it’s never been more of an accurate description than it was for poor Judy, who spent most performances in a series of awkward-looking stationary poses.
Even the usually-gallant Anton apparently said afterwards: “She was s***. Why couldn’t they have given me Pixie Lott instead?”
Gregg Wallace (2014)
Actually, Judy may have been unfairly remembered as 2014’s worst contestant – it’s just that we didn’t get to see as much of MasterChef judge Gregg Wallace.
We felt a bit sorry for Gregg during the launch show when he was matched with Aliona Vilani, who made her disappointment and disgust painfully obvious whilst Gregg stood alongside her looking sheepish.
The pair didn’t have long to put up with each other though, as they were voted out first.
Nancy Dell’Olio (2011)
Anton Du Beke has certainly taken on more than his fair share of appalling partners, and these are just the highlights – there are plenty of others who didn’t make the cut.
Nancy Dell’Olio had the confidence to be the best dancer on the show…unfortunately, her skills didn’t quite match up.
Our favourite Nancy moment was her Halloween Rumba which saw her emerge from a coffin sipping champagne, but critics of Nancy’s dancing should be cautious – she made noises about wanting to sue judge Alesha Dixon for calling her “not very feminine”.
Scott Mills (2014)
Series 12 was a strong year for bad dancers, also featuring DJ Scott Mills who looked like a deer in the headlights every time he stepped out onto the ballroom.
He and partner Joanne Clifton sensibly decided to concentrate on the novelty routines, which saw them through for a good few weeks before being booted out with an Addams Family-themed Halloween Foxtrot.
Our favourite Scott number was his Little Mermaid-inspired Samba to Under the Sea, where he gamely donned a lobster costume and had viewers hitting rewind again and again to see the dance that judge Craig Revel Horwood described as “a lobster on acid”.
Susannah Constantine (2018)
You’ve got to feel sorry for Susannah – not only did she sign up for Strictly in one of the strongest seasons ever, she also got saddled with being Anton Du Beke’s latest fall guy.
Ok, he often gets matched with the worst dancer of the bunch, but 2018 felt a little unfair as Susannah was barely given a chance to be anything other than the comedy turn.
She might have been first out, but her Carmen Miranda-themed Samba which saw Anton emerge from under her skirt lives long in the memory.
James Cracknell (2019)
Sorry James, we know you’ve really only just taken your first few steps onto the dancefloor, but that week 1 Tango was painfully slow and heavy-footed.
Again, he wasn’t helped by taking part in a year with plenty of talented dancers, and especially not when his performance was followed by Kelvin “Top of the Leaderboard” Fletcher.
But the judges agreed that his posture was way too hunched and awarded him just 11 points, making him the favourite to leave first.
James admitted the criticism hadn’t only come from the experts, after an awkward shopping trip to Ikea.
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Saturday night was tough although not a surprise to be ripped apart by the judges. Yesterday was worse, realisation of how big @bbcstrictly is when my tango was constructively criticised by fellow shoppers in IKEA then to finish the weekend off @chelseafc lost to @liverpoolfc
Strictly Come Dancing continues on Saturdays and Sundays on BBC One.
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