Page last updated at 16:27 GMT, Monday, 17 November 2008

John Sergeant dances through divide

John Sergeant and Kristina Rihanoff
John Sergeant is partnered with professional dancer Kristina Rihanoff

By Fiona Pryor
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

His Paso Doble made fans laugh and the judges cringe.

However, that has not stopped viewers voting to keep former political correspondent John Sergeant in the Strictly Come Dancing competition.

His continued success has the judges worried the show is becoming more about the celebrities' personality over the dancing, while Sergeant fans argue it is all about the entertainment.

Here, the different sides of the divide put their case:

ARLENE PHILLIPS - STRICTLY COME DANCING JUDGE

We've never had anyone this bad who has gone this far. It's frustrating.

A lot of people seem to think everyone else has had dance training except "poor" John. But that isn't true.

Arlene Phillips
Arlene Phillips is well known for her harsh criticism
The competition is about watching the celebrities improve and really start to learn the dance.

So it is a little bit disheartening when the public are voting for a non-dancing Mickey Rooney.

I really hope John does not win, because it sort of changes what the show is about.

The end has always been about the best dancer battling it out against the next best dancer.

CHRIS PARKER - CAME SECOND IN THE FIRST SERIES

I didn't know who John Sergeant was, but by the end of the first episode I thought he was so funny.

I am rooting for John, not because I can relate to him in a small way, because he's not the best dancer and neither was I, but also because he's a real character. He's a joy to watch.

Hanna Karttunen and Chris Parker
Chris Parker appeared in the first series of Strictly Come Dancing

The thing that Arlene [Phillips] needs to realise is that this is an entertainment show and the public have 50% of the vote for a reason.

When people say it's a travesty and that it will be bad for the show, that's rubbish, because if everyone was amazing I'd get bored and switch off.

But I do strongly think that the judges need to realise that it's not just about who the best dancer is. I've actually put a bet on John to be the top guy.

KATE GARRAWAY - APPEARED IN LAST YEAR'S SERIES

I think every series has a John Sergeant type, somebody who defies the judges in their attempts to oust them from the competition. I guess, in a way, I was John Sergeant in the last series.

Kate Garraway
Kate Garraway's dancing was criticised, but viewers voted her in

The judges always say you can't always vote for whoever is most popular because this is a dance competition, but I don't know if it's as simple as that, because everybody on Strictly is popular.

What the judges don't seem to understand is, people are loving watching John Sergeant dance.

They don't love him because he seems like a nice chap and want him to come over to have a cup of tea, they're loving him perform on the show.

We love seeing people who are having a wonderful time, even if they're not technically the best dancers. I think if people don't like what they see, then they can pick up the phone and vote.

DIANA JONES, FOUNDER OF FACEBOOK FAN GROUP

We Love John Sergeant group on Facebook
Diana Jones turned to the internet to gather support for Sergeant
The criticism he's received from the judges has been outrageous.

He's not a professional dancer and his dancing skills are not the best in the world, but he's trying.

Just seeing his face makes me smile. He seems to be a lovely man.

It is entertainment and I watch it for the entertainment. I don't know whether their footwork is fantastic. I just watch it, because it's fun to watch. It's definitely entertainment.

I believe in going for the underdog. I want somebody to win who tries their hardest. People need to know it's not how fantastic you are, it's how hard you try.



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