After weeks of tough criticism from the show’s judges, John Sergeant has decided to pull out of Strictly Come Dancing.

Viewers have been voting each week to keep the former political journalist on the BBC1 show – but he has been slammed by the judges and some of the professional dancers for remaining in the competition while ‘stronger’ dancers have been voted off.

In a statement, John confirmed: “I am sorry to say I have decided to leave Strictly Come Dancing. The trouble is that there is now a real danger that I might win the competition. Even for me that would be a joke too far.”

BBC1 controller Jay Hunt said: “We are very sad to see him go.”

John, who was partnered with Russian dancer Kristina Rihanoff, said: “It was always my intention to have fun on the show and I was hoping to stay in as long as possible.”

John added that he would like to “thank Kristina and all those viewers who have been rooting for me through the series”.

Two weeks ago, when the judges awarded John just 12 points for his cha cha cha, head judge Len Goodman told John: “If somebody really deserving gets knocked out just because the public likes you, then it makes a mockery of the show”.

And just this week, judge Arlene Phillips accused John of ‘reading The Guardian’ while other celebrities were busy rehearsing.

But prior to John’s shock announcement, a poll revealed that four in 10 viewers who backed John did so just to rile the judges.

John and Kristina will perform a farewell dance on Saturday’s show.