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The great Strictly revolt: Thousands threaten boycott and demand return of the Dancing Pig


By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 3:02 PM on 20th November 2008




The BBC was being bombarded by thousands of complaints from Strictly Come Dancing fans today after 'dancing pig' John Sergeant quit the competition.

More than 2,000 viewers angry at the veteran political reporter's withdrawal from the show have already contracted the corporation, with more expected throughout the day.


The figure dwarfs the 370 or so who had earlier complained that Sergeant, 64, had not yet been kicked off despite being branded a 'disaster' by the judges for weeks.

Millions of viewers have threatened to boycott the show after his shock decision to leave yesterday because 'the joke was wearing thin'.


article-1087662-0289DD5E000005DC-592_468x511.jpg Relieved: 'Dancing pig' John Sergeant leaving his home today

A huge audience is expected to tune in for his emotional last dance with partner Kristina Rihanoff on Saturday but many viewers have said they will then switch off.






More than 8,000 people had written on the BBC's messageboard about his departure today.


Julia Thompson from Alresford said: 'Shame on the judges for hounding the poor man. This is a family show with families voting and the BBC should reinstate him immediately...

'Noticed the judges all agreed last night that he was wrong to go, double standards after all their ludicrous and extremely unkind remarks made week after week. I will not watch again.'

Kathleen Davidson from Belfast added: thought this was supposed to be an entertainment programme. I will not vote on strictly again and will never watch it again. I think its a disgrace the way he has been treated.'


According to a survey by onepoll.com, more than half will no longer be tuning in once the hugely popular Sergeant goes.

Almost three quarters of the 2,000 polled also declared that they wanted him reinstated immediately.


Enlarge article-1087662-02889AFB000005DC-674_468x347.jpg

John Sergeant drags his dancing partner Kristina Rihanoff across the floor

A similar figure, 72 per cent, said his departure had 'made a mockery' of the programme's voting process.

Under the current rules, a panel of judges score each couple and their marks make up half the final score.


The viewers' vote counts for the other half, meaning that a couple who do consistently badly can still be safe as long as they are popular at home.

This meant Sergeant was saved again on Saturday night despite being by far the worst dancer and actress Cherie Lunghi was ultimately kicked off.

LORD MANDELSON: 'John Sergeant should not bow out. He has become the people's John Travolta. He should be a fighter, not a quitter.'



The majority of people who spoke to onepoll said they felt there was no point in voting any more.

Worryingly for the BBC, a massive 79 per cent of those who had voted for Sergeant also said they wanted their money back.

And an even higher figure, 86 per cent, believed he had been forced off the show by the judges - although the reporter insisted yesterday that was not the case.

A spokesman said: 'It seems people feel cheated and a large chunk want their money back for the votes they cast.


'For a lot of people, this will have wrecked a show which was the highlight of their weekend. People want to be entertained and they have a right to have who they want on the show.'


article-1087662-0289D5AC000005DC-262_468x286.jpg Laying low: Judge Arlene Phillips tries to make a run from the paparazzi today as the furore over Sergeant's departure from Strictly raged

The BBC has already pledged to refund voters' from Saturday night who feel let down,

meaning the fiasco is likely to cost the corporation tens of thousands of pounds.


Insiders have confirmed it expects to fork out a hefty sum in compensation, although there has been no official confirmation of how many votes are involved.

Phone charges to vote on the show are 15p from a BT landline or as much as 80p from a mobile.

A show source said: 'If everyone that voted claims money back then certainly we are looking at tens of thousands of pounds.


'It seems there is a lot of public upset about John's decision - a lot of people wanted to see him go all the way.'

At this stage, the BBC is planning to reimburse only those who called last weekend but it is understood it is also considering whether to extend the refund to the entire series.

William Hill today promised to refund all bets if Sergeant sticks with his plan not to return as a contestant on Saturday night.



Week 8, Goodman unimpressed as usual

Sergeant's surprise decision to waltz off the show left many furious with the BBC and Strictly judges, who were accused of hounding him out.


Tory MP Nigel Evans, said yesterday that it would be a 'complete disgrace' if he had been 'elbowed out' by the BBC because his lamentable performances threatened to turn the show into a joke.




Even Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, who earlier this week said he would like to be asked on the show, took the opportunity to join the debate.

He said: 'John Sergeant should not bow out. He has become the people's John Travolta.'

And echoing his own famous victory speech after holding on to his Hartlepool seat in 2001, Lord Mandelson added: 'He should be a fighter, not a quitter.'


However Communities Secretary Hazel Blears added: 'John Sergeant jumped at just the right moment. Otherwise the joke would have turned sour quite quickly and there would have been a massive backlash against him.'

Sergeant, nicknamed the Dancing Pig, had received huge support from the voting public despite constant criticism from the judges who had placed him bottom of their score table for the last three weeks in a row.

Thanks to the public vote, he comfortably survived the first nine weeks of the series but it was, he said, time to walk away.

'The trouble is that there is now a real danger that I might win the competition,' said Sergeant, who called a press conference at the BBC's White City HQ flanked by his professional dancing partner Kristina Rihanoff and a number of senior BBC executives. 'Even for me that would be a joke too far.

CILLA BLACK: 'I think it is an absolute disgrace because it is a public show, it's supposed to be entertainment - so the judges judge on the dancing, but it's the public that pays for the license.'


'That is a frightening thought, a terrifying thought. I didn't want that to happen because it would have been a very bitter-sweet victory.'

He brushed aside suggestions that he was being pushed out by BBC bosses fearful that his repeated success at remaining in the competition was undermining the show and infuriating the judging panel.

'Anyone thinking that I can be leant on or bullied does not know me very well,' he said.

Sergeant will end his dancing career with a last waltz on Saturday, although he had originally planned a routine to Sophie Ellis Bextor's song Murder on the Dance Floor.

'It ended up with me firing imaginary bullets at the judges,' he said.


Also week 8, and Bruno Tonioll is equally scathing about Sergeant


'The reason for leaving; well it is like when you leave a party. You leave before the fighting starts and I think that is what has happened on this occasion. If the joke wears thin, if people begin to take things very seriously and if people are getting so wound up that is very difficult to carry on the joke, then it is time to go.'



His glamorous partner Kristina said: 'I feel like the war is over.'

NICHOLAS OWEN: 'John you're still a cart-horse. A cart-horse is still a cart-horse.'




Some of the harshest judges' criticism had come from Arlene Phillips, who described Sergeant as a ' non-dancing Mickey Rooney' who instead of rehearsing, just 'sits and reads the Guardian'.

Yesterday she said: 'I'm always sad if a contestant leaves of choice, because you are always expecting the public to vote them in or out - but John is his own person and he has his own reasons for doing this.'

Asked if she felt responsible for his surprise departure, she replied: 'Not really, if you look back, we've actually been quite nice.'


GLORIA HUNNIFORD: 'John Sergeant is great entertainment and I like him very much, but I would imagine it's become a bit embarrassing for him. He's probably done the most honourable thing.'



Fellow judge Len Goodman said: 'I think it's sad. If it had been me I would have stayed in and had a good laugh about it. If I was at home I would vote for him. The British love the underdog but we also love fairness and justice. I don't think he would have made it through to the final.'

Craig Revel Horwood said: 'I was shocked to hear the news. I think it is very odd that someone enters a competition and then actually doesn't have the courage to go all the way with it.'

Show host Bruce Forsyth said he felt sad for Sergeant. 'He looks at other dancers and he knows they're better dancers than him and he must have felt, over the last few weeks, he must have been very guilty in a way.'


article-1087662-0288951A000005DC-786_468x553.jpg Last weekend, and Sergeant seems to be improving at last



The BBC has already said that Lunghi will not be reinstated. The competition will instead continue as normal with the final on December 20 featuring two couples instead of traditional three.


MICHAEL WINNER: 'He's the only man in the world who dances worse than me. He's given it enormous pizzazz and interest. The unusual is always more interesting than the usual.'


One Strictly source said last night: 'It is no secret that John's success on the show has infuriated the judges. They feel John's failure to be voted off makes the show farcical and them look foolish. It has been a real issue over the past two weeks.'

Another senior BBC insider said: 'I think it is fair to say that while everyone loves John this is our flagship entertainment show.

KATE GARRAWAY: 'I would never have quit because the public were spending their hard-earned cash to keep me in the show. I was duty bound to stay for their sake. But I understand why John felt he had to go.'



'It is important to keep the integrity of it otherwise in the long term it's going to cause problems.

'We had been considering ways to avoid this situation happening again in the future.'

One former member of the Strictly team said: 'The BBC have completely overreacted to the issue. This will blow up in their face because it will make

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a bit random but we do have that show here i think... ok i hadn't read the whole article that mark has posted... but is it about a show where old celebs dance?.. :thinking:


we have it here too :worried:




So which old celebs take part in the Spanish version? People like Julio Iglesias?:rolleyes:

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