Strictly Come Dancing’s head judge Shirley Ballas has defended the “awful decision” she had to make to send Aston Merrygold and Janette Manrara home after the dance-off.
Shirley had the casting vote on Sunday night and – controversially – opted to save Mollie King and her partner AJ Pritchard.
Appearing on It Takes Two with Zoë Ball, the judge explained her decision and called on Strictly fans to step up and vote for their favourites if they don’t want to see them eliminated from the show.
“Actually it’s an awful decision to have to make to send anybody home,” she said. “But you have to judge on that particular dance right there in front of you. Not past performances or future performances, but right there and then.
“And I urge everybody at home: you have to vote! Look at Ruth, she got a four but she was saved, she didn’t go in the bottom two. So they shouldn’t have been in the bottom two.”
On ITV’s Loose Women the following Thursday, Ballas added that any claims of a fix were “a load of rubbish”.
“There’s no fix. None at all,” she said. “It’s a TV show at the end of the day, everybody tunes in, everybody has a chance to vote. It’s in everybody’s living room, they’re all enjoying it. There’s nothing at all like that – so it’s just a load of rubbish.”
She added that she had been surprised and upset by some of the online messages she had received since taking over the role as Strictly head judge, saying the trolling on Twitter has been the hardest thing to deal with.
“I’ve struggled with the bullying on that,” she said. “The actual show is great, but the other side of it it’s been an experience.”
She added, “I couldn’t even repeat some of the things that people have called me, or said about me, or criticised my family or whatever.
“There are some nice people on Twitter as well so I feel like I’ve got this little Twitter army behind me,” she added. “Just some really lovely people. One or two that have been mean have come round and said, ‘Maybe I made a mistake’.”
Fellow judge Craig Revel Horwood also hit back at comments that the judges had made the wrong call earlier this week when he tweeted, “The judges vote on the dance off alone NOT past performances or potential performances in the future”.
Ruth Langsford and Anton Du Beke were at the bottom of the week seven leaderboard with 22 points but avoided the dance-off. But Aston, who fell foul of Craig’s “four” paddle and earned only 25 points from the judges, was in the dance off while Ruth was saved.
Instead he had to face Mollie and AJ, who were in the dance-off yet again despite their 27 points.
Strictly Come Dancing returns at 6.45pm on Saturday 11th November on BBC1