Strictly Come Dancing contestant John Sergeant has achieved the lowest score of the series so far, as the competition on the dancefloor hots up.

The political commentator – who has so far escaped the dance-off despite scathing comments from the judges – scored just 12 points for his cha cha cha with dance partner Kristina Rihanoff.

And the panel spared no venom when it came to appraising his performance. “Disaster,” Craig Revel Horwood said simply before giving him just one out of ten.

Len Goodman, meanwhile, said it was “more ha ha ha than cha cha cha”, and added, “if somebody really deserving gets knocked out just because the public likes you, then it makes a mockery of the show”.

But it wasn’t all bad news for the contestants, with many of them scoring some of their highest marks so far this series – and a three way tie at the top of the scoreboard between Tom Chambers, Cherie Lunghi and Lisa Snowdon.

There was particular praise for Snowdon, who performed a Viennese Waltz with her dance partner Brendan Cole. “You are without doubt the most improved dancer of this series,” Len told her, while Bruno Tonioli described the routine as “ballroom magic”.

And Tom Chambers won raves for his quickstep, which opened the show. “You were so on with the timing it was unbelievable,” Bruno said, while Len told him “you did a great job”.

However, it wasn’t such a good week for Jodie Kidd, who performed a samba. “You absolutely crucified that,” Craig Revel Horwood complained. “It didn’t have the passion and drama that it needs,” Arlene Phillips said.

And current favourite Austin Healy also received a disappointing reaction from the judges for his rumba – but Rachel Stevens wowed the panel with her American Smooth.

“That was absolutely wonderful,” Craig said, while Len was more vocal in his praise. “They say diamonds come in small packages and that was an absolute gem of a performance,” he raved.

The results will be announced on Sunday evening’s show, which will also feature a performance from Beyonce Knowles.