Page last updated at 10:33 GMT, Monday, 15 December 2008

Voting review for BBC's Strictly


No losers: How viewers saw the semi-final result

The scoring system in Strictly Come Dancing is to be reviewed by the BBC after a tie affected the semi-final 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, receiving almost 200 complaints by the end of the weekend.

Phillips on the semi-final vote confusion

Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom said it had received a number of complaints "which we will assess against the broadcasting code."

The BBC's spokesman dismissed the suggestion the flaw in the scoring system should have been spotted sooner, but said it would be reviewed.

"They (the producers) are going to look at ways in which they can avoid this situation happening again, definitely," he said.

"Exactly what's going to happen is yet to be debated and agreed, but that process will begin soon."

However, 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 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.

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.

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 tied, viewers' votes for Tom Chambers would have been worthless

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.

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."

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".

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.

'Complete shock'

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.

Lisa Snowdon and Brendan Cole
Lisa Snowdon achieved a perfect score in one dance
Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Monday, Arlene Phillips said she and her fellow judges had "no idea" there was a tie until Stevens and Snowdon's scores were announced.

"It's unfortunate the judges' scores combined to create the same amount," she said, explaining the judges enter their scores via keypads immediately after each dance's completion.

"It was a complete shock to us," she added, saying the judges "look at the leader board the same time as everyone else."

Phillips also stressed the judges will have no impact on which couple wins in next Saturday's final.

"We have no say next week - the public decide," she said. "Their votes will make a big difference."

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