"IT'S been a big two weeks for me," said Strictly stalwart Brendan Cole, still coming to terms with his axing from the BBC show after 14 years.

Judging by comments from those attending Cole's All Night Long show on Wednesday, it is not a decision that has gone down well. "The BBC has cut off its nose to spite its face," said one fan. "It's just wrong. He's my favourite, he always has been. The show just won't be the same without Brendan," said another.

The 41-year-old New Zealander is throwing his energies into the second leg of his biggest ever tour show, which features 21 on stage: eight dancers, fronted by Cole; 11 musicians, led by musical director Barry Robinson, with five brass players from Michael Bublé and Tom Jones's bands among them, plus two singers, slick jazz crooner Iain MacKenzie and Jenna Lee-James, a cat-suited new addition from the West End stage.

Former Strictly lead judge Len Goodman has said of Cole, "there was always a bit of an edge with him: the bad boy of ballroom", and certainly Cole was not averse to a waspish comment or two about his fate, but he was game enough to take some teasing from MacKenzie and Robinson too.

We now have so many dance shows coming to York with Strictly connections that the Barbican was at best half full, but Cole more than once expressed his gratitude for the audience's support.

He rewarded them with a diverse, dynamic programme of song, dance and banter; hats and tails and canes; a fabulous Paso Doble, a hot,hot, hot Argentine tango and a divine waltz; Cole, Robinson and MacKenzie singing That's Life in Rat Pack style; the brass boys in top form throughout. How else could he finish but with the audience on their feet for Lionel Richie's All Night Long, the energy levels still going strong.

Where next for Brendan Cole? He and wife Zoe are expecting their second baby and rumours are growing that Cole is destined for the American Strictly. "I'll see you....when I see you," he said, contemplating anew the upcoming gap in his diary, but he will be back on the road with a new show next year, he promises. Strictly, you've just jettisoned one of your natural leaders; not a good step on any judge's score card.