It was a nerve-racking moment for Winslow man Mark Cope as he and his dancing partner faced the casting vote from Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood on Sunday night.
Mr Cope, aged 25, and Joanna Beardsmore-Dilks had reached the final dance-off in the glitzy Strictly Florence charity fundraiser at Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre.
A packed house of supporters watched 12 amateur couples compete on stage in front of a panel of judges including former soap star Anita Dobson, celebrity chef Lotte Duncan, former Latin champion Scott Cole, and chief judge Mr Revel Horwood.
Mr Cope had been persuaded to take part by Mrs Beardsmore-Dilks, who runs the Rosemary Conley Diet & Fitness Club in Aylesbury. Mr Cope, a general manager for an IT company, has lost 3st 7lb since he and his fiancee, Nicola Herrington, began attending the class last September.
Strictly Florence, which launched the 25th anniversary of Florence Nightingale Hospice, saw each duo showcase a cha-cha and a tango, and receive the judge’s comments.
Three couples, including Mr Cope and Mrs Beardsmore-Dilks, got the judges’ vote to go head to head in the dance-off – a 90-second cha-cha.
After an audience vote, it was a tie-breaker between them and one other couple.
Forced into giving his casting vote, TV’s ‘Mr Nasty’ showed his softer side, saying: “It’s so unfair – I love both of you. You’ve been a-maz-ing.”
In the end, Mr Cope and his partner were worthy runners up to Sian McCarthy and Mark Henderson.
Mr Cope said: “I had a great evening and Jo and I have raised £2,300 which I’m chuffed about. It has been great, it’s been unbelievable. Nicola and I are going to carry on going to dance classes now.”