Page last updated at 21:07 GMT, Sunday, 16 November 2008

Strictly exit for actress Lunghi

Cherie Lunghi and James Jordan
James Jordan was unhappy after Lunghi's departure from the show

Actress Cherie Lunghi has become the ninth star to leave the BBC's celebrity talent contest Strictly Come Dancing - despite backing from the show's judges.

Her "breakthrough" performance had been praised by judges, but viewers opted to support broadcaster John Sergeant, who received faint praise from the panel.

Lunghi and dance partner James Jordan had to perform against Lisa Snowdon and Brendan Cole to stay on the show.

Head judge Len Goodman said having to choose between them was "terrible".

"I feel as though I'm kicking someone off the show because neither should be going, but I have to base it on that last performance, and for me the couple that edged it were Lisa and Brendan," he said after casting the deciding vote.

The two couples had joined Sergeant and partner Kristina Rihanoff at the bottom of the score table following Saturday night's performances.

But while Sergeant and Rihanoff received the lowest marks from the judges, the strength of viewers' votes were enough to see them avoid the dance-off.

Lunghi's partner Jordan begged viewers to change the way they voted.

"This is supposed to be a dance contest," Jordan said.

"Please, please, people at home vote for the dancing. I think Cherie had a lot more to show."

But Lunghi showed no signs of bitterness at the manner of her departure from the show.

"It has been great, such a wonderful experience and great fun," she said.

"It's been a huge learning curve and I wouldn't have missed it for the world."

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