Strictly Come Dancing presenters Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly began tonight’s grand final of the reality show by apologising to viewers for last week’s voting debacle.
The BBC1 programme was hit by controversy after Holby City actor Tom Chambers was saved from a certain place in the dance-off in last week’s semi-final by a last-minute decision to let all three remaining couples go through to the final.
The decision was made after freak scoring results from judges meant two couples tied.
Singer Rachel Stevens and presenter Lisa Snowdon were awarded exactly the same amount of points.
This meant that no matter how much public support he received, Chambers could not be saved from the dance-off.
Viewers bombarded the BBC with thousands of complaints at the decision to let all the couples remain and the Corporation later decided that voters would be offered refunds.
“We are sorry we didn’t realise this earlier but when we did we took the fairest decision in the circumstances to put all three couples through to the final,” said Daly.
After explaining what happened last week, Forsyth and Daly also revealed for the first time the results of the semi-final after the judges scores were combined with the viewers’ votes.
Pop singer Stevens and her partner Vincent Simone were at the top with five points, followed by Chambers and Camilla Dallerup and model Snowdon and Brendan Cole with four points.
Viewers were told these points will be combined with the judges scores from tonight’s dances and converted into a final leader board.
The public will then vote to decide who to save before the couple in third place leaves the competition later.
The final two will then battle it out for the Strictly crown.
Forsyth said: “Once again we are so sorry about all this but we hope now you understand exactly what is going to happen.”
The three celebrities each performed two dances - ballroom and Latin - in a bid to win over the judges and the public.
Snowdon was awarded the maximum 80 points by the judges, ending the first show of the two-part final with three points.
In second place was Stevens, who received 79 out of 80 from the judges, equating to two points, while Chambers’ judges score of 73 resulted in one point.
Viewers were told the combined total of last week’s and this week’s results left Snowdon and Stevens at the top of the leaderboard with a score of seven, followed by Chambers’ five.
Those figures were then converted into three points each for the women and one for the remaining male competitor.
Telephone lines then opened for the public to choose who to save.
The star in third place will be eliminated from the show at the start of the second part of tonight’s grand final at 9pm.
According to the BBC, the phone lines will then be reset to zero as the final two celebrities battle it out for the title of 2008 Strictly Come Dancing champion.
The BBC worked with an independent adjudicator to decide the fairest way to tackle the controversy.
Tonight’s show also saw the return of the 13 celebrities who were knocked out in the weeks leading up to the final.
Among the contestants who took to the dance floor again was journalist John Sergeant, who sparked anger among the judges for being kept in the show by the public despite a lack of talent.
The popular 64-year-old eventually bowed out of the competition voluntarily last month.
Forsyth also provided entertainment with an all-singing, all-dancing performance of What The World Needs Now Is Love.
The voting row is not the first controversy to hit this series of the BBC1 show, with many viewers upset that Sergeant quit.
Explaining his decision to leave, Sergeant said he wanted to avoid a “bloody battle” but brushed aside suggestions that he was pushed out by TV bosses.
Talk of presenter Bruce Forsyth’s fluffing of lines this series also prompted criticism of the 80-year-old who simply came up with a new catchphrase – “I’m not doddery, doddery I am not.”