Strictly Come Dancing 2013: Give Natalie Gumede a chance – and lay off the catty comments

Nat's it, I've had enough of the hate! says Mark Jefferies

At the start of Strictly, Natalie Gumede was streets ahead of the others, and almost inevitably a backlash started.


My newspaper discovered she had some dancing experience and I must admit, I was amongst those who thought she had an unfair advantage.

But the abuse that followed for Natalie has been disgusting.

The former Corrie actress has been subjected to attacks on Twitter and Facebook, some of it racist.

And when I actually met her, it turns out she is an adorable young girl, with a heart almost as big as her cackling laugh.

It turns out those dance lessons wouldn’t have helped her a lot either.

“I haven’t danced for ten years,” she explained.

“I did ballet, jazz and tap as a kid. Latin American is on my CV from a Saturday class when I was 12. It was a big group of 30 and we didn’t dance with a partner.”

So that big advantage we thought she had, and the cause of vile online abuse, isn’t so big after all.

Since I first met her at Blackpool I have watched her dances differently.

Her charleston dance up north in the Ballroom to’s Bang Bang is my current favourite of the series.

And spending time with her again last week, I saw how hard she trains. Natalie works seven hours a day at her routines every day. That is the REAL reason she is the best on Strictly.

Bookmakers can’t decide who is going to win between Natalie, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Susanna Reid.

But at this stage, despite regular tens from the judges, Natalie is not the most popular with the public.

I would urge people to give Natalie a chance and even if they don’t like her enough to vote for her, at least lay off the online catty comments.

Natalie told me she just “wants to enjoy” her last days or weeks on the show and she should at least be allowed that.

Mark Jefferies is Showbiz editor at the Daily Mirror