Heather Mills has helped give the US version of Strictly Come Dancing its largest ratings ever for a season premiere.

The estranged wife of former Beatle Paul McCartney helped draw in an audience of 22 million earlier this week on ABC's Dancing with the Stars, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Mills, 38, is the first contestant on the show with a prosthetic limb, having lost her left leg below the knee in a traffic collision 14 years ago.

The show's hosts were eager to emphasise this fact, but despite leaving a visibly nervous Mills to wait until second to last to dance, she still impressed the judges with her fox-trot routine that included a kick with her left leg.

Len Goodman, who also adjudicates on the BBC1 version of the show, told her she was an "inspiration", while fellow judge Bruno Tonioli said: "You've got more guts than Rambo."

Mills was awarded an indicative score of 18 out of 30 by the judges, with viewers able to vote contestants off the show from next week onwards.

21/03/2007 08:08:16