Strictly Come Dancing’s ‘best contestants’ – and some didn’t win Glitterball

As this year's Strictly Come Dancing competition heats up with just four couples remaining only one couple have managed to score the perfect 40 so far.

Up to week 11 of the series, judges Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Shirley Ballas and Anton du Beke have awarded 39 on five occasions – three times for Layton Williams and his professional dance partner Nikita Kuzmin and twice for Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola.

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Top marks went to Layton and Nikita on Saturday (December 3) as they wowed fans with their Paso Doble but it's the public vote that determines who progresses and who is in the dance-off. In fact, those who have been awarded the highest average score in the show's 19-year history have often gone on to miss out on lifting the BBC's coveted Glitterball Trophy. Daily Star pluck out our best celebrity performers from series gone by

Ashley Roberts

Pussycat Dolls star Ashley Roberts is the celebrity with the highest ever average score, having starred on Strictly in 2018 with dance partner, Pasha Kovalev. Over 19 series, the pair earned a stunning average of 36.94 over 19 performances – but despite this they only finished second, losing out to Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton.

After recording a 29 in week one, the remainder of Ashley scores were all 30+ with 39s in weeks six, seven and eight, with her first 40 arriving a week later. Ashley and Pasha later danced three 40 performances in the final – a perfect 120 that proved six points more than Stacey and Kevin. The public intervened, however, with Ashley missing out.

Ricky Whittle

Hollyoaks actor Ricky Whittle boasts the highest combined score in the show's history, meanwhile, with 682 dished out for his 2009 performances with Natalie Lowe. Like Ashley, however, Ricky finished runner-up, behind presenter Chris Hollins and Ola Jordan.

Ricky scored higher than Chris in 13 of the 14 rounds in the 2009 competition, but again it wasn't to be. Speaking after the result, he said: "It has been amazing, I am definitely going to keep dancing."

Alesha Dixon

Alesha Dixon's Strictly Come Dancing journey was so successful she went on to become a judge on the show. The former singer teamed up with Matthew Cutler in 2007's series five with the pair wowing audiences from the offset.

Other her weeks two and four performances (31 and 33), Alesha went the entire series without scoring below 35. Popular with the judges – particularly Bruno Tonioli who labelled her a "young Josephine Baker", Alesha impressed the public too, receiving 4.5 million telephone votes in the final to beat EastEnders' Matt Di Angelo.

Rose Ayling-Ellis

Another EastEnder in the form of Rose Ayling-Ellis captured the hearts of the nation after a series of beautiful performances with Italian hunk, Giovanni Pernice. The couple's chemistry was so great, they were repeatedly asked if they were romantically involved away from the screen.

En route to winning the series in 2021, Rose went down in Strictly history by scooping the show's earliest ever award of 40 – for her Tango just six weeks in. Two weeks later Rose and Giovanni performed their Couple's Choice dance including a period of silence as a tribute to the deaf community – something Anton described as "the best thing I have ever seen" on Strictly. It scored 39, as did their performances in weeks 11 and 12, before they capped the series off with an incredible 119 out of 120.

Harry Judd

McFly drummer Harry Judd is one of the standout male contestants in Strictly history, having won the show alongside Aliona Vilani in 2011. A slow developer to an extent, Harry didn't top the leaderboard until week seven.

From then on, however, he was favourite to win and did so with two perfect scores in the final against Chelsee Healy and Pasha. A year earlier, meanwhile, Harry won a Strictly Children in Need special. And in 2015 he won the show's Chrsitmas Special with Joanne Clifton.

Rachel Stevens

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S Club 7's Rachel Stevens is another star who despite her incredible efforts, narrowly missed out on the Glitterball Trophy. Back in 2008 she partnered Vincent Simone and went on to finish as runner-up to Tom Chambers.

On the way to the final, they recorded the most 10s in the show's history at the time, with all four judges awarding them the score in week 10, and seven more arriving in the final to give Rachel and Vincent a combined total of 79 out of 80 – six points higher than winner Tom. Indeed, Rachel's score was higher than the Holby City star's in all of the last six weeks of the competition.

Danny Mac

Actor Danny Mac is another famous runner-up, who danced his way to the final with Oti Mabuse in 2016. By week three Danny had already achieved a score of 36 out of 40, and from then on he never looked back to become one of the most constent performers in the show's history.

Peaking with 40s in weeks nine and 10 to top the leaderboard, he recorded two more top marks in the final, but missed out to BBC Sport's Ore Obuda and Joanne.

Natalie Gumede

After making her name as Kirsty Soames in Coronation Street, actress Natalie Gumede is another Strictly star who never scored below 30. On leaving the soap in 2013, Natalie partnered with Artem Chigvintsev and went up against Abbey Clancy for the Glitterball Trophy.

Natalie and Artem bagged their first 10 as early as week six for their Viennese Waltz. After missing the following week due to illness, she returned to scoop three more 10s in week eight, with several more in the latter stages of the series. A stunning 119 out of 120 proved three points higher than Abbey in an incredible finale, but again the viewing public went against the judges and Abbey emerged victorious.

Abbey Clancy

And that brings us on to Abbey herself. Partnered with Aljaž Škorjanec, the model opened series 11 with a brilliant 32 out of 40 in week one. Despite a blip in week three (28), the Liverpudlian mother-of-four impressed throughout, most notably in week 10 as she was awarded 40 for a Saturday Night Fever Salsa.

Kara Tointon

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Like Rose, Kara is another EastEnders actress to have won Strictly. The Dawn Swann star was the favourite from the early stages of series eight in 2010 after a number of sizzling showstoppers with partner Artem.

Such was their chemistry, the pair later dated for four years before announcing their split in 2010. On their way to being crowned champions, meanwhile, Kara and Artem never scored a 40, but performed consistently throughout the series and shared a kiss after pipping Matt Baker and Aliona to the post.

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