Jay McGuiness on his talented Strictly dance partner Aliona Vilani

After topping the Strictly Come Dancing leader board last week, Jay McGuiness is fast emerging as the dark horse of the competition. The former The Wanted star has praised his dance partner Aliona Vilani for her talent as a teacher – and knowing exactly what Jay needs, and when.

"She knows exactly what's right for the situation," Jay told presenter Zoe Ball, during an appearance on Strictly's spin-off show It Takes Two.

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"So sometimes I need to carry on, stop thinking and carry on, and sometimes I need to stop. [Aliona] says, 'You need to eat now' and I say 'No let's carry on' and she says 'No you need to eat' and I go, 'Yeah you're right'."

Aliona Vilani and Jay McGuiness topped the leader board with 31 points

The Glad You Came singer and the Russian dancer scored an impressive 31 points for their waltz, which ballerina and judge Darcey Bussell called "outstanding".

"It just felt really fun," said Jay, 25. "Looking back – I watched this one back a lot – I thought it looked great. The cameras and the lights made it so great. They span around the opposite way. Aliona did lots of hard work to make me look good but everything around it made it look really good."

This week, Jay and 31-year-old Aliona will be performing a jive, a dance that the pair are having a lot of fun with.

"Looking back – I watched this one back a lot – I thought it looked great," said Jay of his waltz

"The actual jive itself is really hard and I think my legs are a bit lazy and slow," said Jay. "But then we have twists and that's a breather."

"It's a cool number because the movie is so cool. We're having fun with it," said Aliona.

The blonde beauty, who won series nine of Strictly with McBusted's Harry Judd, added: "Every week is a new dance so it's not that you're keeping up the standard, you're just trying to do the best in each dance you have.

"What I did appreciate a lot was that the judges saw and appreciated all the hard work that we've done and commented on the intricate technique and their comments were just amazing, so it was really awesome."