LOCAL hero AJ Pritchard is through to the semi-finals of Strictly Come Dancing.

The 23-year-old and partner Mollie King are one of five couples left in the competition to lift the glitterball trophy.

They are now preparing for two dances to wow the judges and viewers on Saturday, hoping to reach the grand final the following weekend.

Last Saturday was musical week and AJ and Mollie, a singer with band The Saturdays, danced the Rumba to Hopelessly Devoted to You from the film Grease.

They finished fourth on the leaderboard out of six couples and scored a total of 31 points.

After two scares of facing the dreaded dance-off, Mollie and AJ impressed the viewers to escape the bottom two spots.

Judge Bruno Tonioli was very impressed and said: “I was not expecting your ability to translate wonderful emotion to such wonderful motion.”

However, Craig Revel Horwood disagreed. “I don’t agree with Bruno at all – I thought you were dancing by numbers,” he said.

“I have to be honest – I thought there needed to be much more extension in your body. There was some hip action, which was nice. I liked it, I didn’t love it.”

Darcey Bussell enjoyed the dance. She said: “How you played Sandy was divine – your timing was nice as well. It was very sweet and romantic, which is unusual for a Rumba.”

Head judge Shirley Ballas was also impressed. “Your timing was impeccable today. It’s very, very, very difficult to do and I felt you were totally on your feet.”

AJ’s mum and dad, Debi and Adrian, run a dance and fitness centre in Burleydam.