Strictly Come Dancing star Ugo Monye has spoken out to defend his fellow competitors from what he calls "vile" abuse.
"All of us on Strictly sign up to be critiqued by the judges when we perform, but what no one signs up to abuse," said Monye. "It's vile, and criminal actually. We saw it with Tilly, and unfortunately Oti had it on Instagram, and Judi too, whether it be racist abuse or fat shaming."
Love will miss this weekend's Strictly Come Dancing after having tested positive for COVID-19. "I've checked in with Judi since she got COVID and the girl is getting nasty messages while she's trying to recover, saying that she's opting out this weekend off the back of her being in the dance-off for two weeks," Monye said.
"It makes me sad because the line is not blurred between criticism and abuse - there needs to be greater accountability for these people who want to live in the shadows."
Monye, who will be performing a rumba this weekend, was keen to distinguish between tough critiques from Strictly's judges and unprompted personal attacks online. "I got a three from Craig for my first dance and that's absolutely fine, I probably deserved it! But abuse? Hell no. You can't target people and their characteristics, it's just totally unacceptable.
"There has to be responsibility on social media companies to protect our humans, because on one part we speak about mental health so well, but then sometimes we seem to ignore it. Everyone says they're tired of it, they've had enough, but the conversation has got to lead to action and at the moment we don't see it."
Monye returns to the dance floor tomorrow, after missing last weekend as a result of his back injury. He told us there was no way he would have withdrawn from the series completely though, no matter how much trouble his back was giving him. "I'm stubborn!" he laughed. "And I feel a sense of duty as well, because Strictly have been supportive in allowing me to have adequate treatment.
"I want to come back this week and put on a good show, to repay that support. So yeah, there was no doubt in my mind that I would be back, even if I was hobbling!"
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