No Strictly Come Dancing star will be knocked out partway through final in revamp of format

Anita Singh
Four couples, including Debbie McGee and Giovanni Pernice, will battle it out on Saturday - PA

With viewers grumbling that the results are a fix and the celebrity dancers stung by some unkind comments, this series of Strictly Come Dancing has been in danger of losing the feelgood factor.

But the final is guaranteed to be a happier place after the BBC announced they are scrapping the early elimination.

Traditionally, one of the four couples is voted out in the opening hour of the final, leaving three to battle it out for the Glitterball trophy.

This year, all four will dance through to the very end, where the winner will be decided by a public vote.

The BBC said the decision was taken at the beginning of this series, and is not a response to anything that has happened since the show began.

But the more inclusive final follows accusations that the BBC One show has taken a nasty turn this year.

Alexandra Burke has suffered negative commentsCredit: Andrew Crowley 

Alexandra Burke, one of the four celebrities left in the competition, said she has struggled to cope with some of the negative comments aimed at her. Some viewers have accused her of faking tears, and have claimed the judges are 'fixing' the result by awarding her higher marks than her dances deserve.

It has also been suggested that she and Debbie McGee have an unfair advantage because they have previous dance experience, with Burke appearing in musical theatre and McGee trained in ballet. However, neither has ballroom experience; the bookmakers' favourite, Joe McFadden has also appeared in West End musicals.

Burke faced the dance-off for two consecutive weeks despite high judges' scores, but on Sunday was voted through to the final. Mollie King, the girl band singer, was the last contestant to be eliminated.

McFadden, McGee and Burke will be joined in the final by Gemma Atkinson, the Hollyoaks actress. All will perform three dances: a judges' pick, a show dance and a favourite dance.

The final is expected to attract one of the highest audiences of the year. Saturday's show was watched by an average of 10.2 million viewers and a peak audience of 11.3 million.

From Aston Merrygold's exit to Lisa Riley's splits: Strictly Come Dancing's biggest shocks

Other criticism this series has been directed at Shirley Ballas, the new judge, who has received hate mail from viewers who believe her judging is too harsh.

"I don't want to say what they say. I won't go there. But some people are just inappropriate," she has said. "I think it's unfair to say that I'm mean. I think I'm constructive. I'm there to do my job and do it to the best of my ability."

Last year, in an anomaly, there was no elimination in the final because only three contestants were featured, following Will Young's decision to quit. Producers thought it was more seamless than in previous years, when proceedings paused to send one couple home.

A BBC spokesperson said: "The producers always wanted a final in which all the couples danced three times. It proved hugely successful in 2016 and we’re very excited about the routines that will be performed this weekend.”

 

 

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