The same-sex couples debate has plagued Strictly Come Dancing, with fans and dance professionals alike calling for the show to partner up a celebrity with a dancer of the same sex.
Show bosses have said they are “open” to the idea of including same-sex pairings in future series, but they have fallen behind Dancing on Ice, which revealed the upcoming 2020 series will include a same-sex pairing for the first time.
Strictly 2017 contestant Reverend Richard Coles has waded into the debate, shutting down any notion that the show is homophobic.
“The idea that Strictly would not be an inclusive show is so absurd to anyone who’s been in it,” he told RadioTimes.com at the St John’s Ambulance Everyday Heroes Awards.
“It is what it is, it’s a dance show, and dance involves a certain grammar of how men and women move together.”
He continued: “Either way, if they want to do that, that’s absolutely fine by me. I can absolutely understand why the programme may want to keep the dance couples to men and women. I don’t think that should be construed as homophobic at all. It’s the least homophobic show on television.”
His response comes after former Strictly judge Arlene Phillips called for the show to “make a statement” and include same-sex couples.
“It’s common [in the dance world] it’s not even thought about. It’s part of dance, and it’s part of storytelling,” she told RadioTimes.com.
“If you’re going to do it, make a statement. I don’t think people would think about [same-sex couples]. I think it will be something that is just accepted.”
Last year Gorka Marquez and AJ Pritchard danced together in a show first, as well as Neil Jones and Kevin Clifton, Katya Jones and Nadiya Bychkova and Aljaž Škorjanec and Pasha Kovalev. But no same-sex couples have ever competed.
Strictly Come Dancing is on BBC One, Saturday at 6.40pm