Lead data journalist

Former Hollyoaks star surges into the lead in YouGov's Strictly tracker, with more than four in ten viewers saying they think he will win

Despite various controversies in recent weeks, the biggest story of this year’s Strictly Come Dancing is the rise and rise of Danny Mac.

Going into the fourth weekend of the competition the actor looks like an increasingly good bet to lift the glitterball trophy. Just before the competition started YouGov found that a mere 2% of Strictly viewers with an opinion thought he was the contestant most likely to win. However, over successive weeks this rose to 17% then 26% and, now, after last weekend’s Paso Doble, 42% think he will end up as champion.

The increase in expectations of victory are mirrored by a rise in his popularity among the show’s audience. Just before the start of the series just one in twenty (5%) Strictly viewers with an opinion picked him as the star they would most like to win. After his cha-cha-cha in week one this rose to 8% and after the second weekend it increased further to 11%.

However after delivering last weekend’s highest scoring dance, almost one in five (19%) viewers say he is the contestant they would most like to win. This draws him level alongside Louise Redknapp, also on 19% - the same level of support she received the previous week.

The rise of Danny Mac has coincided with the slow puncture in support for Will Young, who departed the series for personal reasons earlier in the week. At the start of the series he topped the leader board when it came to who viewers wanted to win. Among those with an opinion, after week one approaching one in five (18%) wanted him to prevail, although this fell to 12% in week two and declined further in week three to just 8%.

Will Young's departure means there is one fewer couple competing in this week, but the BBC has decided to still hold an elimination round this week. Strictly viewers back the BBC's decision, with 59% supporting having an elimination, almost twice as many as the 32% who opposed it.

Photo: PA

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