Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing after his samba failed to win the vote of any of the judges last night.
The sportsman and his dance partner, Natalie Lowe, faced former Westlife singer Nicky Byrne and Karen Hauer in the dance-off following their performances on Saturday’s show which yet again attracted more viewers than X Factor.
After the dance-off, all four judges voted to eliminate Vaughan and save Byrne.
An average of 9.9 million viewers tuned in to see Strictly on BBC1 on Saturday, while ITV1’s struggling X Factor saw its semi-final audience dip to an average of eight million – 2.6 million fewer viewers than last year.
The show has seen its fortunes wane since Simon Cowell left the judging panel after the 2010 series. At this stage last year the Saturday night edition of X Factor pulled in 10.6 million viewers. Compared with figures for 2010, this year’s semi-final looked even more disastrous, with the audience dropping almost 42 per cent on the 13.7 million who tuned in two years ago.
Strictly also saw a drop in viewer numbers on Saturday compared with last year, when it pulled in 10.3 million for the equivalent show, but overall ratings for the BBC contest continue to beat the X Factor.
Following Byrne’s Argentine tango in the dance-off last night, judge Craig Revel Horwood said they were “absolutely sensational the second time round”.
Darcey Bussell added: “They both upped their game tonight. It’s really difficult, but I’m going to save Nicky and Karen.”
Bruno Tonioli confirmed that the pair would be saved to appear again this week, saying: “I really have to go for the couple who for me had the licence to thrill, and that was Nicky and Karen.”
That meant that Vaughan became the eighth celebrity to leave the competition.
After being evicted, he said: “Everything about this show, the judges and everyone backstage, all the contestants, have been great, I’ve got new friends that I’ve made for life.
“Nicky thoroughly deserved that win, he wiped the floor with me.
“I’ve had a ball, and the real winner for me is this one [Lowe]. She got me to the ninth week, which is quite remarkable.”
There are now six celebrities left in the competition and three weeks until the final.
Meanwhile, former contestant Fern Britton said her performances on Strictly Come Dancing had shown people “the real me”.
The presenter, who was voted off last month after dancing a steamy salsa with Artem Chigvintsev, said she revelled in her new glamorous image.
In a magazine interview, she said: “You all think I’m mumsy, mumsy, but I’m not. That’s the real me. I know how to have a good time, I like to be extrovert and I don’t mind making a fool of myself.
“I comfort myself with the feeling that the audience know me and that I’m prepared to have a go at things.
“I don’t think they’re ever shocked by anything that happens to me. I got such lovely messages saying, ‘Go, girl’.
“At the end, even Artem said, ‘You’ve made me a better person’, and gave me a big bunch of flowers.”