Ben Cohen’s time in the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom is up following a surprise result which saw Mark Benton survive the dance-off for the third successive week.

The rugby ace – who finished bottom of the judges’ scoreboard on Saturday night – lost out after finding himself in the bottom two for the first time.

And although it was another split vote – with Craig Revel Horwood voting to save Ben and Darcey and Bruno opting for Mark, it was ultimately Len who sealed the sportsman’s fate.

“The thing was they both went wrong, for me one couple made a small mistake and the others made two blatant mistakes and on that basis and on this performance I have to save Mark and Iveta.”

Afterwards Ben reflected on what he called a ‘great experience’ as well as paying tribute to dance partner Kristina Rihanoff.

“I said I was on borrowed time for a while and it has been amazing,” he said.

“When would I get to dress like this every day, wear all the lycra and maybe not a top! The support has been amazing and I’ve had a great time but now I can dance at my kid’s parties.”

Ben added: “Kristina has been great, I have thrown her around a little bit, I’ve thrown her into walls, dropped her a few times and she has been great – thanks ever so much for putting up with me!”

Meanwhile a tearful Kristina told him: “If there was a trophy for the most improved person it would go to you. You started at zero and have improved every week and you make me so proud every week and I’ve had the best, most rewarding time on Strictly.

“I took someone with no experience and I brought you here and you were amazing.”

Ben scored just 27 points out of 40 – one lower than Mark Benton – for his Charleston on Saturday night’s show.

“It wasn’t the most electrifying Charleston I’ve ever seen,” Craig told him, while Len complained it ‘lacked freedom of movement’.

Next weekend’s show will see the seven remaining celebrities paying tribute to classic musicals.