AFTER a week making the headlines, former ITN journalist John Sergeant, came under the spotlight for the last time in Strictly Come Dancing.
He quit the show last week, in a blaze of publicity, saying it would be a "joke too far" if he won. He had been repeatedly saved by the public vote, inspite of coming bottom of the score table.
To rapturous applause and a standing ovation, he led his partner, Russian Kristina Rihanoff, 30, in a waltz on Saturday.
The judges, who criticised him bitterly over previous weeks, all said how sorry they were to see him go. Head judge Len Goodman said: "We are sorry John decided to leave because he has given us and the viewers so much entertainement."
This was echoed by co-host Bruce Forsyth, who said:"You have given the public a lot of pleasure and fun." He also asked John, 64, from Ealing, whether he was pressurised into leaving.
John said: "I wasn't pushed. I have had a marvellous time. It has been fantastic. I want to thank everyone who voted for us. We have been overwhelmed by their kindness and generosity, particularly the judges. It has been extraordinary the way they whipped up public support in our favour."
He then paid tribute to a glowing Kristina, reducing her to tears. He spoke of the "brilliant and wonderful Kristina" and her sense of "fun and courage," adding:"she has been the best dancer in the world."
Kristina, who is now out of the show, said: "Thankyou to everyone who gave me the chance to take part and for pairing me with John." Turning to him she said:" I admire, respect you and adore you."
An estimated 10 million viewers tuned in to the couple's final appearance together.