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Last Updated: Wednesday November 18 2009 14:20 GMT

Strictly to split into two shows

Ali Bastian and her dance partner Brian Fortuna

Strictly Come Dancing will be split into two shows in the run-up to the final, the BBC has said.

The change, which is kicking in on 5 December, is to allow phone operators more time to deal with all the votes.

Strictly has been getting fewer viewers than big rival the X Factor, but the BBC says this doesn't have anything to do with the changes to the programme.

The main show will start at 6.40pm and end at 8.10pm. The results will be shown in a show starting at 9.40pm.

In past years the number of votes cast has gone up the closer Strictly has got to the final, so the people sorting out all the votes need more time to do their job.

The split starts at the same time guest judge Darcey Bussell arrives on the show.

The ballerina joins Len Goodman, Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli and Alesha Dixon on the panel.