There were no string attached when Faye Tozer stormed to the top of the leaderboard on Strictly Come Dancing.
The former Steps star - who lives in East Boldon - scored top marks in the quarter-finals of the BBC1 hit show - which had a musicals theme - with a routine inspired by the puppet scene in The Sound of Music inspired routine.
Dressed in lederhosen, Faye and her partner Giovanni Pernice, performed an energetic Charleston to The Lonely Goatherd - earning four maximum ten-point scores from the judges.
Charles Venn has been ousted from the show after one of the most-feared dance routines - the rumba - put him in the dreaded dance-off with Ashley Roberts.
The Casualty actor, 45, was the 10th celebrity to leave the BBC One show after performing the sensual, rhythmic routine with his professional partner, Karen Clifton, to Maria from West Side Story.
The pair, who have previously been in the bottom two three times, found themselves in the dance-off with ex-Pussycat Doll Roberts, 37, and her professional partner Pasha Kovalev.
Before Saturday’s show, Faye said that contestants having previous dance experience is “part of Strictly”.
She was addressing comments on the perceived unfairness of some celebrities entering the contest with the benefit of a dancing background.
Faye, one of the favourites to win, admits that her dance experience has helped.
But the singer insisted it is “graft” that pays off on the BBC show, and said she would be heartbroken if she was voted off before the final.
She said: “There are some people in this year’s competition who are absolutely amazing, knocking people out the water. It’s just one of those things, it’s just part of Strictly.
“I do have dance experience, and I think I can probably pick up routines fairly quickly. I think it’s the graft that you put in the rehearsal studio. We all work so hard and do so many hours.
“There’s always been people with different sorts of abilities, and I guess until you get in the room and do the choreography you don’t know how good you’re going to be.”
Her routine on Saturday earned rave reviews from the judges.
Bruno Tonioli said: “Everyone was on their feet. That was the ultimate crowd-please, a show-stopping delight. It was so original.”
Darcey Bussell said: “It was extraordinary, there was a move to every beat, I don’t know how you stayed in synch.
“It was a stunning, to perfection.”
Venn said after leaving the show: “I have to pay extreme homage to this Karen. She turned me into a promising dancer.”