Rhys Stephenson has missed out on a place in the Strictly Come Dancing final after becoming the 11th contestant to be eliminated from the dance competition.

The CBBC presenter, 28, came bottom of the leader board during the show’s semi-final on Saturday night after the four remaining couples performed two routines.

Rhys and his professional partner, Nancy Xu, landed in the dance-off against Bake Off winner John Whaite and his partner Johannes Radebe, where both couples had to reprise one of their dances in a bid to impress the judges and secure their place in the final next week.

John and Johannes win dance off

After Rhys and Nancy performed their samba to It Had Better Be Tonight (Meglio Stasera) by Michael Buble again, and John and Johannes danced their jive to Higher Power by Coldplay, it was a unanimous decision by the judges to save the TV baker, sending Rhys packing.

Judge Craig Revel Horwood deliberated intensely on his decision, saying: “In all the years I’ve been doing the show since 2004, I really do not want to make this decision tonight.

“This has been one of the most amazing dance-offs I’ve ever witnessed. Both couples are equal and both couples deserve to go through and I just want to put both couples through.

READ MORE: Dan Walker talks Strictly Come Dancing exit and Twitter trolls on BBC Breakfast

“I know I’m not allowed to do that so I have to choose. I’m going on the technical side and it’s to do with clean finishes. I’d like to put through to the final: John and Johannes.”

Motsi Mabuse also felt both couples “deserved to stay in the competition” but finally voted to save John and Johannes, while Anton Du Beke agreed it was “such an event contest” but based his decision on what he really liked.

With three votes to John and Johannes, they had already won the majority vote but head judge Shirley Ballas agreed that she would have saved the pair as well.

Rhys Stephenson thanks Nancy for being his “rock”

Talking about his time on the show with co-host Tess Daly, Rhys said: “I might not have gotten to the final but I learnt so much from just being on this show, from everyone here who’s just supported us in this new family.

“To have the time to spend with this champion of a dancer (Nancy) who’s put so much into me. Thank you for just letting my energy shine. Thank you for being that partner.

“I should use your actual name which is Xu YouJie. Thank you so much Nancy Xu YouJie, for just being there, being my rock and everything I needed to get through this. Thank you.”

After watching a video collage of their best bits, an emotional Rhys added: “It’s good to cry, it’s good to feel. Strictly makes you feel things. You feel so much and sometimes that’s overwhelming.”

Nancy also praised Rhys for being an “amazing dancer partner” and making her first year on the show “absolutely epic”.

She added: “I want to say a massive thank you to everyone in the show for supporting us from the very beginning. You’ve become stronger and stronger every week.”

Strictly Come Dancing 2021 Finalists

The semi-final show saw TV presenter AJ Odudu and actress Rose Ayling-Ellis come joint top of the leaderboard after both celebrities secured a perfect 40 and a score of 39 for their two routines.

The Strictly finalists, John and Johannes, AJ and Kai, and Rose and Giovanni, will take to the dancefloor in the Strictly Final 2021.

:: Watch the Strictly  Come Dancing Final at 7pm on December 18 on BBC One and BBC iPlayer