BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker has said he believed his last performance on Strictly Come Dancing was the best he has danced in his entire life.
The TV presenter, 44, was sent home from the BBC One series after his quarter-finals tango with partner Nadiya Bychkova failed to earn him a spot in the semi-finals next weekend.
Walker reflected on his time on the show and said he felt he was a “completely different person” with a changed mindset after going from someone who never danced to performing live to 10 million viewers on a weekly basis.
On the Strictly spin-off show It Takes Two, he said: “I’ve loved every dance we’ve done and each week has been my favourite and I told Nadiya on the Monday when she showed me the choreography, I said ‘I already love it, I can’t wait to dance it on Saturday’.
“And that was the best I’ve danced in my entire life, in front of 10 million people, and it’s a good way to go out.”
His Ukrainian-born dance partner agreed she thought it was their best performance, adding: “I absolutely loved it. The way he improved and the way he performed on Saturday night, he didn’t just dance that to the music, he actually performed, he was in the moment.
“And for me, it was beautiful, I loved it. I loved every moment of that tango, I loved the music, I loved the way we dance together.
“How much hard work he put in and then to show that in front of millions of people, it was just beautiful.”
Walker and Bychkova landed in the dance-off over the weekend against AJ Odudu and her partner, Kai Widdrington, who went on to receive the majority vote from the judging panel for their salsa, keeping them in the competition.
The TV presenter added that he believed “overwhelmingly” that the “best four dancers” got into the semi-final, saying: “As I said in the dance-off, I would have put AJ and Kai through as well.
“Because I think it’s important, it’s an entertainment show but it’s also a dancing competition, and they’re the best by a mile and we all said that on day one.
“But I don’t think anyone’s had as much fun as us, we’ve had a great time.”
Reflecting on his journey on the show, he said he felt like a “completely different person” to the person he started out as after three months of working with Bychkova.
He added: “The number of messages off people who’ve been inspired by watching a tall, awkward dad go on Strictly, who couldn’t dance and didn’t know what he was doing, to be able to do a tango like that on a Saturday night, that’s a huge change for me and a huge mindset change.
“And it’s helped a lot of people, either trying to dance for the first time, dance in the kitchen, dance for the kids, dance with their partner, and that’s what the show is all about, really.”
Bychkova also said her time on the show with Walker had been “very special”, adding: “I love teaching him but at the same time I learned so much from him.
“You gave me the confidence in front of the camera. You managed to create that environment for me where I felt safe, and I felt free to be myself for the first time, and your friendship gave me wings to fly again. Thank you very much.”
Four couples – TV presenter Odudu and Widdrington, EastEnders actress Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice, Bake Off winner John Whaite and Johannes Radebe, and CBBC host Rhys Stephenson and Nancy Xu – remain in the competition.
The semi-finals will air on December 11 at 7.05pm, with the results show on December 12 at 7.20pm on BBC One and on BBC iPlayer.