Whitchurch hero AJ Pritchard went agonisingly close to reaching the final of Strictly Come Dancing at the weekend.

But the professional dancer and celebrity partner Mollie King lost in a dance-off on Sunday night’s show.

AJ and the singer from girl band The Saturdays shared a warm embrace after the result. The couple danced twice on Saturday night’s show.

They scored 32 points for a waltz to Angel by Sarah McLachlan and 24 points for a samba to Whenever, Wherever by Shakira. After votes from viewers, the couple were in the bottom two and faced a dance-off against Hollyoaks and Emmerdale actress Gemma Atkinson and professional dancer Aljaz Skorjanec.

But the four judges unanimously decided it was the end of the Strictly journey for AJ and Mollie.

AJ turned to social media to express his happiness.

Talking about Mollie, he said: “You have been outstanding throughout this journey – every performance has become a cherished memory that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are a star.”

The 23-year-old started dancing at a young age, learning at his mum and dad Adrian and Debi’s dance school, Pritchard’s Dance and Fitness Academy, in Cheshire.