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Film and TV

Strictly Come Dancing judge piles pressure on BBC to finally introduce same-sex couples

Lily Wakefield June 15, 2020
Arlene Phillips Strictly come dancing

Arlene Phillips attends The Olivier Awards with Mastercard at Royal Albert Hall on April 8, 2018 in London, England. (John Phillips/John Phillips/Getty)

Former Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips is putting pressure on the BBC to finally introduce same-sex couples to the show, insisting: “It’s not an offensive thing.”

The prime time ballroom dancing show recently announced plans to introduce its first same-sex pairing after facing sustained criticism for several years.

It has been rumoured that the first same-sex couple will be two women, after rival Dancing on Ice featured two male dance partners, Ian ‘H’ Watkins and Matt Evers, in its most recent series.

But former Strictly Come Dancing judge Phillips, 77, told The Sun that there was too much “fuss” over the decision.

She said: “I feel absolutely you could have male, male, female, female partners, and it shouldn’t be made a fuss of.

“They are not making a decision to do a defined male or female role. They are dancing together. And I think we should all, let it happen.

“Dance has to readily move forward and it’s not an offensive thing.”

Although all of the competing dance partners featured on Strictly Come Dancing have been strictly opposite-sex, the show did feature a dance routine performed by same-sex pair Johannes Radebe and Graziano di Prima in its last series. 

More than 300 people complained to the BBC over the November 2019 dance routine, with most saying they found it “offensive”. The BBC did not uphold any of the complaints.

For the next series, TV bosses are reportedly looking for a high-profile lesbian or bisexual female celebrity to make up one half on the show’s first same-sex pairing – and at the top of the list are former X Files star Gillian Anderson and singer Jessie J.

Actor Anderson is bisexual, whereas Jessie J came out as bisexual during an interview in 2011, then backtracked years later labelling her bisexuality “a phase”.

Lesbian TV presenter Steph McGovern, former Great British Bake Off host Sandi Toksvig and singer Chelcee Grimes are also being considered for the show.

 

More: arlene phillips, BBC, dancing on ice, gillian anderson, Graziano Di Prima, Ian H Watkins, jessie j, Johannes Radebe, matt evers, same-sex couple, Strictly Come Dancing

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