Strictly’s John Whaite on why he initially requested straight male partner

The former Bake Off champ explains that he was concerned about trolling on social media.

Strictly star John Whaite

John Whaite and Johannes Radebe have undoubtedly been one of the top couples on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing so far – delighting the judges and viewers alike with several dazzling routines and regularly sitting near the top of the leaderboard.

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They are also notable, of course, for being the first male same-sex partnership in the show’s history – but former Bake Off champ Whaite has revealed that he could very easily have been paired with a different professional.

In a recent interview with Attitude magazine, Whaite said that he initially requested to be partnered with a straight male dancer, in part because he was concerned about trolling on social media.

“I was honoured, of course, because not only had I wanted to do Strictly ever since I saw it when I was a little boy… but also, as soon as I found out, I felt a little bit anxious,” he said about being approached for the series.

“I knew that it was an important thing to do, that it was hopefully going to change the way TV is, change the way that children feel when they watch TV – it’s massive – but I was expecting to get a lot of hate, like [people] sliding into the DMs and saying, ‘You’re disgusting’ and that kind of thing.”

He added: “At first, I said, ‘Can you put me with a straight partner?’ because I [thought] that that would be the only way it would be accepted, and then, about a month before we were partnered up, I [thought], actually, I want it to be Johannes; it has to be Johannes, because it’s such an important thing for both of us, it would be wrong for it to be anyone but Johannes.

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“The fear in my wanting to please people got in the way and let me say, ‘Can you put me with a straight man?’”