Paul O’Grady: Strictly Come Dancing will ‘never’ feature gay couples because the BBC are too scared
Paul O’Grady has claimed that the BBC are “too scared of offending people” to allow same-sex dance couples to compete on Strictly Come Dancing.
The popular reality dance contest show has repeatedly ruled out rumoured changes to include same-sex couples.
Strictly has featured same-sex dance segments in group routines, but only opposite-sex couples are permitted in the main competition element of the show.
Judge Craig Revel Horwood has previously called for changes to remove the gender rules – but former Strictly dancer James Jordan insisted the change would be “wrong” and could “lose so many viewers”.
Speaking on Radio 4’s The World Tonight, veteran TV host Paul O’Grady said he couldn’t see the change happening “in a million years”.
He said: “I wonder if it wouldn’t happen on the BBC. The BBC are doing this huge series celebrating gay culture, but I can’t see 7 O’Clock on BBC One, on Strictly, two couples of the same sex doing the paso doble across the dance floor. I could never see that happen in a million years.”
“I think they’re scared of offending people, particularly in the press.”
O’Grady is currently hosting the revival of Blind Date on Channel 5.
The beloved dating show, which was famously hosted by Cilla Black, will feature lesbians in an episode airing this week.
The TV host added: “I think it’s about time, don’t you? Years ago, when Cilla was doing the show, it was mooted, but I don’t think the time was right.
“There was a bit of a hoo-hah about that then, but now of course [it’s different].
“We had a hoot, the audience loved it, and it was no big deal. That’s what I was so impressed about.
“There was no intake of breath, ‘oh god, we’ve got lesbians on the show!’. There was none of that.
“I still think homophobia is rife, but in the world of television it definitely still has changed.
“Why not on Blind Date, have same-sex couples? It’s ridiculous to ignore them.”
He joked: “I think the press will expect some kind of licentious bacchanalian orgy knowing we’ve got four lesbians on the show, but they’re going to be sadly disappointed!”
A Channel 5 spokesperson said: “We wanted to be inclusive with our contestants and having LGBT representation throughout the series was really important to us from the outset, alongside maintaining the spirit and warmth of the original and much-loved format.”