Strictly Come Dancing hero John Sergeant has been the celebrity to benefit from the most positive PR this year, according to a new survey.

Though the political journalist pulled out of the BBC1 show due to the "real danger" that he might win the competition, he won the hearts of the nation with his unique dance style.

To celebrate this week's DVD and Blu-ray release of family blockbuster Hancock, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment carried out a national survey to find out whose public persona has gone from zero to hero in 2008... and vice versa, mirroring Will Smith playing a down-on-his-luck superhero whose public image is transformed thanks to positive PR.

And while Sergeant's reputation has soared this year, troubled singer Amy Winehouse has unsurprisingly seen her stock fall according to the Sony survey.

The Grammy winner received more than a third of votes (37 per cent) while former Atomic Kitten star Kerry Katona was placed second, following her disastrous appearance on ITV1's This Morning.

Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand also featured in the top five of celebrities whose profile has been lowered in the last year, following the public controversy over their lewd phone calls to actor Andrew Sachs.

Celebrities judged to have had a positive image makeover in the last year included sporting greats Andy Murray and Chris Hoy and X Factor judge Cheryl Cole.

And the British public also seem to believe Britney Spears is on the road to recovery, with good PR and the help of Simon Cowell crucial to her comeback.

"We live in a very volatile time economically and politically and the media are reflecting this," said Danny Rogers, editor of PR Week.

"People's reputations can be built and destroyed very quickly at the moment."

The results in full are:Profile raised by positive PR

John Sergeant - 37 per cent
Cheryl Cole - 33 per cent
Britney Spears - 18 per cent
Andy Murray -15 per cent
Chris Hoy - 11 per cent

Profile lowered by negative PR

Amy Winehouse - 37 per cent
Kerry Katona - 26 per cent
Jonathan Ross - 21 per cent
Russell Brand - 13 per cent
Jennifer Aniston - 1 per cent

This survey was carried out by Opinion Matters across 1,096 UK adult respondents.

Hancock is out on DVD and Blu-ray now.

04/12/2008 03:01:01