Controversial contestant Seann Walsh has left Strictly Come Dancing with partner Katya Jones after a run on the show which saw them make headlines for an off-screen kiss.
Despite the divisive indiscretion and media spotlight, Walsh has said being on the show was “the best experience of my life”.
The pair became embroiled in a highly publicised “Strictly curse” controversy over the kiss, which was captured on camera following a night out.
It cost Walsh his relationship with girlfriend Rebecca Humphries, and the dance partners made a public apology before performing a “dance of shame” following the revelations.
There was clamour from some critics for the pair to be sent home from the show, but they returned to the dance floor for several weeks with unromantic routines.
After a low-scoring Viennese waltz – a return to a more tender dance – the pair faced a dance-off with Graeme Swann and Oti Mabuse.
They are the fifth couple to depart the show after the judges unanimously voted them off.
Walsh said: “When you watch it and hear people at the end say this has been the best experience in my life … you don’t really believe, but this has been without a doubt the best experience of my life. Probably bar the last few weeks.
“But generally speaking, from the beginning it really was. I can’t believe it, it’s been amazing.”
He addressed his partner following their exit, saying: “It’s an absolute miracle that I’ve gotten this far. I’ve been Neo from The Matrix, I’ve been used as a set of steps and even Craig a few weeks ago called me hot, it’s been a dream come true and that’s because of you.”
Jones, who said she is happily married to fellow dancer Neil Jones, thanked Walsh for the time they had together on Strictly.
She said: “It wasn’t easy but thank you for your commitment every single day. We did 12 hours, it was amazing and I’m so proud of you from day one when you couldn’t get your right from your left and now delivering dances like that that. Thanks for making me laugh a lot.”
The remaining 10 couples will take to the dance floor next week when Strictly Come Dancing returns on Saturday at 7.05pm.