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Strictly Farcical

PUBLISHED: 15:35 18 December 2008 | UPDATED: 15:50 25 August 2010

KEPT IN: Holby City star Tom Chambers and partner Camilla Dallerup.

KEPT IN: Holby City star Tom Chambers and partner Camilla Dallerup.

REALITY TV fans confidence in phone voting has been shattered following the latest controversy in the Strictly Come Dancing semi-final - your Times can reveal.

REALITY TV fans' confidence in phone voting has been shattered following the latest controversy in the Strictly Come Dancing semi-final - your Times can reveal.

There was uproar at the weekend as the BBC show's bosses were forced to put all three contestants through to next week's final after a fault in the scoring system meant millions of viewers' votes for Holby City star Tom Chambers would have been rendered redundant.

Thousands of complaints flooded in to the BBC and broadcasting regulator Ofcom after points awarded by the show's judging panel to hopefuls Lisa Snowdon and Rachel Stevens left viewers with no chance to save Chambers despite millions of fans having spent 15p a call to keep the actor in the show.

But the BBC was forced into a dramatic U-turn on Monday night, announcing it would be refunding the cash viewers wasted.

This week head judge Len Goodman, from Kent, refused to be drawn in to the controversial debate, but readers were clearly disappointed by the latest phone vote scandal.

Molly McGrannaghan, 17, a student, said: "I saw the show, but I've never voted. I don't really trust these kinds of things - that's why I've never phoned in. The fact it keeps happening is the most off-putting thing. If it happened once you could accept it was a mistake. But it's become so repetitive and that's not great."

Teresa Vowells, 55, added: "What happened with the voting was wrong. I wouldn't ever vote myself. People may lose confidence in doing it this way, like with what happened with Deal or no Deal - and all those people who were treated unfairly. My friends vote and I'm sure this'll make them think twice."

In a statement from BBC head of entertainment production Jon Beazley revealed that all votes cast will count for this Saturday's show. He also pledged to refund any voters if they requested their money back.

The spate of phone-in scandals over the past two years involving the likes of Channel 4's Richard and Judy, BBC's Blue Peter and Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway on ITV has clearly rocked fans' confidence in voting systems.

Ray Fitchett, 73, said: "It's quite annoying what happened on Saturday, it didn't seem right. Only two should have gone through, that's what people were voting for in the first place. I'm not going to be voting next week.

"I don't believe in the system anyway. They could be hiding the real number of votes cast."

Donna Moore, 38, of Keston, Bromley, added: "What happened is typical of the BBC. It doesn't take a mathematician to work out what was going to happen, my 13- year-old son worked it out and realised that Tom couldn't get through anyway. But at the end of the day, its light entertainment, and everyone is entitled to make a mistake."

j.shackley@archant.co.uk

Phone-in scandals timeline

April 2007: More than a million X Factor viewers overcharged by a total of £200,000 because of a computer error.

June 2007: Channel Five receive £300,000 fine for faking winners of phone-in quiz on daytime show Brainteaser.

July 2007: BBC fined £50,000 for misleading audience by faking the result of a Blue Peter phone-in.

August 2007: Profit-making phone-ins to be axed by Channel 4 after issues with Richard and Judy competition You Say We Pay discovered dating back to 2004.

September 2007: ICTIS [regulator of premium rate phone lines now known as PhonepayPlus] issues £250,000 phone-in fraud fine to GMTV. Ofcom fine the show a further £2 million.

December 2007: Channel 4 lands £1.5 million Ofcom fine for misconduct in Richard and Judy's You Say We Pay competition and Deal Or No Deal.

May 2008: ITV fined £5.675 million by Ofcom for abusing premium rate phone services in viewer competitions on shows including Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, Gameshow Marathon and Soapstar Superstar.

August 2008: BBC fined £400,000 for conducting viewer and listener competitions unfairly. It is BBC's highest ever Ofcom fine.

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