Page last updated at 17:17 GMT, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

In quotes: John Sergeant's exit

Famous faces and Strictly Come Dancing pundits give their reaction to John Sergeant's decision to pull out of the celebrity ballroom competition.

BRUCE FORSYTH - CO-HOST, STRICTLY COME DANCING

It was a bit of a shock. He ruined my opening joke this week - I was going to say 'Ladies, gentlemen and children, welcome to The John Sergeant Show. Now I've got to get a different joke.

Bruce Forsyth
'It was pure Generation Game'
I feel sorry for John because he was put in the most awkward position. He looked at all the other dancers and knew they were better than him. Over the last few weeks he must have felt guilty in a way.

But the way the show is, as he's been saying, is that the public have half the vote, the judges have the other half. He's got a point there.

But I'm a Pisces, I go both ways - I can feel sorry for John, I can feel sorry for the dancers, I feel sorry for the judges. They're there to give their professional opinion of the dancing.

It's all ended up a bit sad in a way. John is such a lovely guy and the whole team adore him. But then I felt sorry for poor Cheri [Lunghi] who worked so hard. They don't realise how hard the contestants work learning the dances for up to seven hours a day.

When John did his dances it was like going back 30 years and bringing back The Generation Game - but without me doing a demonstration before he did it. It was pure Generation Game, bless his heart. It's what the public love to see.

There are four couples who could win, and win it handsomely. This year it's very hard to pick the winner.

CHRISTOPHER PARKER - FINALIST, SERIES ONE

I'm gutted. I'm going along on Saturday with the sole intention of supporting him, and this is a bit of a shock to be honest.

I'm really upset about it because he really is an inspiration to people who can't dance. I got to the final and I can't dance, I admit that readily.

I just think it's nice to have someone in the show who is kind of triumphing for all those people who love watching the show but aren't great dancers.

Hanna Karttunen and Chris Parker
'He really is an inspiration'

If you want to watch a pro dance contest, you'll go and watch a pro dance contest. People watch Strictly because it's a fair representation of the public - you've got some people who can dance, some who can't, some who are improving, some people who aren't.

I didn't know who John Sergeant was the first week I went to watch the show. I thought he was entertaining, I liked his relationship with his partner.

He's older than me and yet he's going out there in front of millions of viewers every week and trying.

Last week I thought was definitely the best week for him so far, and I thought he was improving, and I'd had loved for him to be in the final.

I'm definitely very disappointed with Arlene and the judges, she's publicly gone out and attacked him - I think that's the wrong thing to do.

Those judges have a job, and that job is to criticise on the show, it's not to go out and influence the public vote. They have enough power as it is.

I think the judges should be ashamed of themselves and I think the show will suffer as a result.

ARLENE PHILLIPS - STRICTLY COME DANCING JUDGE

I'm always sad if a contestant leaves out of choice because you always expect them to let the public vote them in or out.

Arlene Phillips
'John Sergeant isn't anything new'
But obviously John is his own person and has his own reasons for doing this.

We've always had competitors who've been on the show, can't dance and have had public support. John Sergeant isn't anything new. There was all of this debate with Christopher Parker.

There can be massive public support for someone who can't dance and the judges don't believe they can dance.

There were funny, funny moments when he was dragging Christina along the floor, and last week's performance was an improved one. I don't think there was a judge who didn't say that.

BUSINESS SECRETARY PETER MANDELSON
John Sergeant should not bow out, he has become the people's John Travolta and he should be a fighter and not a quitter.

ANDREW CASTLE - FORMER CONTESTANT, CURRENT SERIES

I was quite shocked when John pulled out, but I think he's played an absolutely brilliant game from the beginning of the competition.

Andrew Castle and dance partner Ola Jordan
'The public will feel very, very miffed'

Now he leaves the programme undefeated with his flag flying high, and it will be worse off for it.

At the end of the day it's an entertainment show and some people have failed to see that in a spectacular way.

How many times has it been said it's a dancing competition? I take the view that it's out of hand that anyone else is still in it. John was the star of the show and made great entertainment.

He's been dancing now for three months, lost two stone, got every ounce of PR out of it and has had a really good time doing it. He's probably taken the view that enough is enough.

I think the public will feel very, very miffed and upset with John's exit. I think it's fantastic that people can vote for who they want.

MARK FOSTER - FORMER CONTESTANT, CURRENT SERIES

I was very surprised. I thought he'd have a bit more fight in him, but can understand his reasoning.

Mark Foster
'I think he should have carried on'
The public obviously enjoyed watching him and I think he should have just carried on doing what he was doing.

Every week you're putting a stage show on - and it's an amazing show. The judges are there to give their comments, but it's a big pantomime. I was called a "stick insect on acid".

They're there to mark the dances and it's half their show, half the public's. You could take the public vote out and let it just be a dance contest. But at the same time it's entertainment.

The only way John had a chance of staying in the competition from the word go was getting the public vote. They've been having a go at the judges.

Why was he there in the first place if it was purely a dance contest? He didn't stand a chance. But I was up for him doing well on behalf of the non-dancer, which added another element to the show.

If John had been out sooner, I might have got some of the public vote and still been in!


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