17 NOVEMBER 2008

Even his years reporting from the cut-throat environment of Westminster can hardly have prepared John Sergeant for the controversy stirred up by his continued survival in Strictly Come Dancing.

The former political journalist has become the housewives' favourite, despite showing little aptitude for dance. During Sunday's episode he moved yet closer to the competition finale, buoyed by his popularity with the public.

He and Russian partner Kristina Rihanoff came bottom of the judges' ranking after performing the American Smooth. Yet it was Cheryl Lunghi, one of the favourites to win, who was eliminated following phone votes from the viewers.

It was the third week running that John had come last in the judges' estimation, but been saved by his armchair fans.

One judge Craig Revel Horwood was so miffed by the outcome he said: "This is a dance competition. It's not Strictly Come John Sergeant.

Attitudes like his previously prompted the political correspondent to suggest the panellists were out of sync with the "views of ordinary people".

Photo: © Alphapress.com
His performance of the American Smooth failed to impress Strictly judges, but John Sergeant and his partner Kristina Rihanoff will go on in the show thanks to his fansPhoto: © BBC
Photo: © Alphapress.com
Their phone votes saved the former journalist for the third week running from being kicked out off the contestPhoto: © BBC
Photo: © Alphapress.com
Judges are so put out at being repeatedly overruled, one commented: "This is a dance competition. It's not Strictly Come John Sergeant"Photo: © BBC