Strictlys Nikita Kuzmin breaks down as he pays tribute to Layton Williams after personal problems

Professional dancer Nikita Kuzmin couldn't help but shed a tear on Saturday (9 December) as he took to the Strictly Come Dancing stage with partner Layton Williams.

The duo performed a sensational Charleston routine, earning them not only a full house of 40 points from the judges, but a standing ovation from notoriously harsh Craig Revel Horwood.

Layton's stellar feedback left Nikita, who recently went public with his new girlfriend, feeling emotional as they chatted after the performance, with the dancer making reference to some turbulence in stage and screen star Layton's personal life.

Speaking to host Claudia Winkleman, Nikita was bursting with pride as he turned to Layton and shared: "I know he [Layton] makes it seem easy but you are the most hard-working person I have ever been in a room with.

"You try to bring joy to everyone's life, no matter what is happening outside. No matter what is going on in your personal life, I'm not going to go into that."

After steering away from personal issues, Layton began to tear up, struggling to make it through his sentences. "You always make joy, but, especially…" he began, being overcome with emotion.

Taking a breath, he continued: "Seeing you cry makes me cry, honestly, you make me shine to see how much you are shining. You are one of my best friends and I would love to have my first final with you." Layton then tightly held Nikita as they shared a hug.

Nikita joined the show's roster of professional dancers in 2021, but has not yet made it to holding the glitterball trophy, or to the final show.

His comments about Layton's personal life sparked concern amongst viewers, with some taking to social media to share their thoughts. "What did Nikita mean about Layton's personal life? Genuine question #Strictly.," one fan wrote to X.

Others couldn't believe the performance, as another tweeted: "Wow wow wow wow!! Those two dances were everything and that Charleston is the best thing I’ve ever seen!"

"Whatever happens, that Charleston was THE dance of 2023! Amazing," exclaimed another.

Layton is battling it out against Bobby Brazier, Annabel Croft and Ellie Leach for a place in the coveted, and sparkling, final show.

Last week, the stars were given a free pass to the semi-final after the public vote was cancelled at the weekend because former EastEnders actor Nigel Harman injured a rib in rehearsals – leaving him unable to continue in the competition.

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