BBC slammed by former Strictly pro for 'unusual' treatment of dancers: 'Renowned for it!'

The Strictly professionals in 2023

This year's crop of Strictly Come Dancing professional dancers

Alex Davies

By Alex Davies

Published: 15/09/2023

- 05:00

The 15 celebs who make up this year's Strictly line-up are currently gearing up for the show to begin

The partnerships for this year's Strictly Come Dancing remains anybody's guess as the new crop of famous faces prepare to battle it out for the Glitterball Trophy.

But this year, many of the headlines surrounding the couples have centred on the professional dancers who look set to miss out on a celebrity pairing.

Nadiya Bychkova is tipped to miss out on a partner for the first time since she joined in 2017 while Neil Jones has also reportedly been snubbed again.

The furore surrounding their omissions has led to a number of fans speaking out against the decision - including Bychkova's former celebrity partner Dan Walker who admitted he was "gutted" for his pal.

With so much of the attention drawn towards these dancers who've missed out, GB News spoke with former Strictly stars Vincent Simone and Ian Waite to see if the current format needs renewing.

"I don't think there's any need (for a select list of pros)," Simone began. "I mean, from a covering part of it, if someone gets injured, you have some extra professionals, which are already known roughly by the public so you don't get like a full-on stranger jumping into the show in for injury purposes.

Nadiya Bychkocva and Kai Widdrington

Nadiya Bychkova (left) has reportedly been snubbed from this year's pairings


"But otherwise... I mean, our group numbers back in the days, it was quite intimate, you know, it was like three couples, four couples.

"But now the dance floor is packed, which is amazing, you know, looks spectacular, but (Strictly) could just employ dancers."

Waite weighed in with a suggestion of his own: "My personal opinion is that they should have a very big pool of dancers and they change it up every time.

"So you have 30 dancers and you're going to change it up every time depending on which celebrities you get.

"I think that is a much better idea than kind of keeping the same pros year after year after year," Waite continued.

Explaining the reasons behind his suggestion, Waite delved further: "And I just think that way - because it gets really hard if you're doing it year after year and touring. It gets hard.

"So it would be nice for certain pros to have a year off, let's say Giovanni [Pernice], have a year off, and then come back next year and feel fresh and to do it again.

"And I'm sure if they were given the option, somebody like Giovanni would, say, 'Yes, please, I'll take a year off this year and come back next year.'"

However, Waite revealed there's an obstacle in the dancers' way when it comes to this approach - the Beeb itself.

He explained: "But the BBC are renowned for not bringing pros back. I don't think we've ever seen any pros being dropped one year and then brought back the year after which is unusual because in America they do and in Australia they do.

"It's just one of those things," he added. "It's a shame."

Waite and Simone then touched upon the Strictly stars who've left the series and gone on to have decorated careers, such as Oti Mabuse and Kevin Clifton.

"I mean with those guys (who've left), I just think it's fantastic for us because they have paved the way for the other pros to make careers in other areas," Waite praised.

"For so long, ballroom dancers have been put in a box and been told, 'Oh, they can't do musical theatre. They can't do presenting. Who are they? They can't do it because we have no history of it.'

Ian Waite (right) and Vincent Simone (left)Ian Waite (right) and Vincent Simone (left) with their Magic of Dance co-stars INSTAGRAM/IAN WAITE

"But now we're starting to get a history of people breaking out of the box going into presenting, going into judging like Oti, going into musical theatre like Kevin and Joanne Clifton.

"And I think that's fantastic for all of us because it makes everybody look at us in a different way.

"They go, 'Oh, actually, they have got talents in other areas. Maybe they aren't good at presenting. Maybe they are good.'

"You know, I was probably given the first opportunity on It Takes Two. And I did It Takes Two with Zoe [Ball] for 10 years as a presenter.

"And that was such a great opportunity," Waite concluded.

Waite and Simone may no longer be performing on the Strictly dancefloor but they are currently touring the country with their own show, The Magic of Dance.

Tickets are still available for dates in Lancaster, Rugby, Newbridge, Stamford, Darlington, Burton-on-Trent, Eastbourne, Middlesbrough, Barnstaple, Epsom, and Felixstowe.

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