Page last updated at 17:16 GMT, Sunday, 14 December 2008

No refunds for TV Strictly voters


No losers: How viewers saw the semi-final result

No refunds will be given to viewers who voted in Strictly Come Dancing's semi-final, which was affected by a tie in the scoring on Saturday evening.

Contestants Lisa Snowdon and Rachel Stevens and their partners were given top points by the show's judges.

But that meant Tom Chambers could not be saved from a dance-off to decide who left the series. All three qualified.

The voting has been carried forward to next weekend's final. "No vote has been disregarded," a BBC spokesman said.

The corporation has faced criticism from viewers following the incident, with more than 100 calls to the corporation on Saturday evening alone.

Tom Chambers and Camilla Dallerup
They should have worked it out and decided what they were going to about to do about it
Media commentator Steve Hewlett
But while viewers were able to get refunds after broadcaster John Sergeant left the series last month, they will not be able to claim their money back this time.

"Viewers were asked to vote for their favourite dancer and they will all be going through," the BBC spokesman said.

"Nobody's vote has been disregarded, in fact, quite the opposite."

The situation was not explained to viewers at the time, and the programme ended 10 minutes early, forcing BBC One to fill the gap with trailers.

'Really unfortunate'

When the series started in the autumn, with 16 celebrities paired with professional dancers, the original plan was to have three couples in the final.

But after broadcaster Sergeant quit the show following criticism from the judges, it was decided to continue voting one couple off each week until just two were left to compete in the final.

Now three couples will appear in next Saturday's final anyway.

The BBC's controller of entertainment production, Jon Beazley, called the situation "really unfortunate" but said: "There were exceptional circumstances at play.

Jon Beazley: "There were exceptional circumstances at play"

Asked about viewers' complaints that producers should have anticipated the situation, he said: "They might be right.

"We have so many contingencies for a live programme of the complexity of Strictly Come Dancing, this was one extra set of circumstances we didn't have the contingencies in place for. Everything else, we could have legislated for. But that's the nature of the beast."

Dancer Karen Hardy, who teamed up with cricketer Mark Ramprakash to win the fourth series in 2006, said she would not have expected producers to foresee the situation.

"This just shows you what live TV is all about," she said.

"Can a production this big know every single thing that is going to happen? The bosses of the show are never going to know what the judges are going to mark."

'Entirely predictable'

But media commentator Steve Hewlett, presenter of BBC Radio 4's Media Show, said the incident was "entirely predictable".

Lisa Snowdon and Rachel Stevens
Scoring is split 50:50 between judges and viewers
The two couples with the lowest scores once the votes have been combined must perform in a dance-off in front of the judges alone
If there is a tie, the viewers' votes take priority
In this case, the judges' votes for Lisa Snowdon and Rachel Stevens (above) were so high, viewers' votes for Tom Chambers would have been worthless

"They should have worked it out and decided what they were going to about to do about it," he said.

"When you add it all together with John Sergeant and all the other phone-in things that have happened, you do just sometimes wonder, you can't just invite us, the great unwashed, to play this game, and then disregard what we say.

"What's to stop this happening next week?"

Earlier this year, the BBC was fined 400,000 by media watchdog Ofcom for misleading its audiences by "faking" phone-ins on TV and radio. A new code of practice was introduced after the furore.

Mr Beazley said the incident was "validation of the work that's been put into trust at the BBC".

"A decision was made - a very clear decision which was communicated to the audience, which was 'this isn't right'," he said.

"We've out our hands up, we've said it's not right, it's a shame we didn't have the contingency in place, but we'll make it right and we'll sort it."

Perfect score

I have effectively wasted a pound on a vote that doesn't even count. Ridiculous!
Barney, Liverpool

Singer Stevens, dancing with Vincent Simone, and presenter Snowdon, partnered by Brendan Cole, had both been awarded 75 marks out of a possible 80 by the judges after their two dances, with Snowdon achieving a perfect score on her ballroom round.

That meant both couples were awarded three points to take into the audience vote, with Holby City star Chambers and partner Camilla Dallerup awarded just one.

In the audience vote, a further three would have been the most points Chambers and Dallerup could have won and a further one would have been the least either of the other couples could have got.

Therefore, whatever the outcome of the audience vote, Chambers and Dallerup would have been one of the two lowest-scoring couples and facing a dance-off for a place in the final against the other lowest scorers.

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