Page last updated at 09:07 GMT, Sunday, 23 November 2008

John Sergeant dances off Strictly

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John Sergeant's Strictly journey ends with a final dance

John Sergeant has danced his final waltz on BBC One show Strictly Come Dancing, after he quit earlier this week saying he feared he would win.

The former political journalist, who received strong support from the public, denied he had been pushed and said it had been "strictly fantastic".

He thanked the judges for the "extraordinary" way they had whipped up public support in his favour.

The BBC is offering to reimburse anyone who voted for Sergeant on 15 November.

'I adore you'

Bookmaker William Hill has also agreed to repay customers who placed bets on Sergeant.

The 64-year-old performed a waltz to the music Come Away With Me with his dance partner Kristina Rihanoff.

I certainly wasn't pushed, Brucie. I had a marvellous time. It has been strictly fantastic
John Sergeant

Despite Sergeant coming bottom of the score-board three weeks in a row, the voting public had chosen to keep him in the competition.

Amid speculation he had been pressured to quit the show, Sergeant told host Bruce Forsyth on Saturday: "I certainly wasn't pushed, was I Brucie?

"I had a marvellous time. It has been strictly fantastic."

Of his partner Rihanoff, he said: "With her sense of fun, her smile and her courage she is simply the best dancer in the world."

John Sergeant and Kristina Rihanoff
John Sergeant came bottom of the score board three weeks in a row

The emotional dancer told him: "It's been quite a journey from the first day and I want to say to John that I admire you, I respect you and I adore you."

Speaking on behalf of the judging panel during Saturday's show, Len Goodman said: "We're sorry that John decided to leave the competition because he's given us and the viewers a lot of entertainment. We wish him well."

Throughout the series, Sergeant has been heavily criticised by the judges.

Arlene Phillips previously declared he was "outstanding at dancing really badly".

While Goodman said his performances undermined the whole show.

Explaining his decision to quit earlier in the week, he said winning the competition was a "frightening thought".

He added: "I didn't want that to happen because it would have been a very bittersweet victory."

The BBC has received more than 2,000 complaints about Sergeant's departure since he announced he was quitting the show.

Jodie Kidd, Tom Chambers, Christine Bleakley, Austin Healey, Lisa Snowdon and Rachel Stevens remain in the competition.

Stevens and her partner Vincent Simone scored the first perfect score of the series, with four 10s from the judges.

The result show is on BBC One on Sunday.



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