Ex-Strictly star defends BBC series amid line-up backlash: 'There'll never be an even keel!'

This year's Strictly line-up

This year's Strictly line-up

Alex Davies

By Alex Davies

Published: 10/09/2023

- 07:00

This year's Strictly cast has been met with rather mixed responses from fans

The 15 celebrities taking part in this year's Strictly were announced one by one last month as anticipation levels among fans continue to grow.

The full line-up consists of Amanda Abbington, Angela Rippon CBE, Layton Williams, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Eddie Kadi, Angela Scanlon, Zara McDermott, Adam Thomas, Nikita Kanda, Ellie Leach, Jody Cundy CBE, Bobby Brazier, Nigel Harman, Annabel Croft, and Les Dennis.

While the cast is made up of stars from all walks of showbiz, the BBC contest has come under fire due to the previous experience of some of its stars.

Williams, for instance, is an actor on the screen and stage and earned acclaim for his stints in Everybody's Talking About Jamie and Billy Elliot.

Scanlon is also trained in the world of dance and even performed on-stage in the US with the Irish Thunder dance show as well as training with the O'Shea Irish Dance Company.

While complaints over the fairness of the competition have therefore emerged prior to the new series getting underway, GB News heard exclusively from former show stars Ian Waite and Vincent Simone about the disparity in the cast's ability.

Ian Waite (right) and Vincent Simone (left)

Ian Waite (right) and Vincent Simone (left) with their The Magic of Dance co-stars


And Waite was quick to defend the line-up from critics, claiming it'd be difficult to find a cast of celebrities with zero performing experience.

"You're never ever going to get an even cast who have had the same amount of experience," he explained.

Waite continued: "There's always going to be one or two that have, whether they had dance classes when they were younger, or they did musical theatre, or they went to stage school.

"I mean, most people in entertainment have done some sort of training like that.

"So I don't think we're going to go into there with an even keel," Waite claimed before he turned his attention to other experiences stars may have which people think can translate over.

He said: "I mean, when you have sports people (for example), they have the physicality but they don't necessarily have the natural dance movement so you've always got that to contend with.

"I think the variety is key actually," he continued. "We've had so many people that have won Strictly that started off with no dance experience at all, like Chris Hollins, people like that.

"So you never know. Also, it's about capturing the audience's imagination and, you know, you just have to do the right thing and one dance can win you the competition.

"Look at Jill Halfpenny, she did that jive and that was the only good dance she did," Waite quipped as he chuckled before clarifying: "No, I'm joking - she did lots of amazing dances but that was the dance that really gave them the win."

Simone also weighed into the debate to point out: "But also on the other side, I've had people that have been trained in musical theater, but when it comes to ballroom and Latin American dancing, they really, really struggle.

"I mean, most of my shows I've done in West End, I had musical theater people (around me) and when the director said, 'Why don't you try teach them some Waltz or something', I had girls crying their eyes out just on three steps because it's something that they're not familiar with.

"So the technical side of what we do, it's so extreme that it can just shut the bodies down.

"I mean, it's a long process. So sometimes it's best if you haven't danced at all," Simone claimed.

Angela Scanlon

Angela Scanlon is taking part in this year's Strictly with previous dance experience


Both Simone and Waite are still performing on the dancefloor but this time as part of their new tour, The Magic of Dance.

Hinting at what fans can expect from the tour, Simone told GB News: "For me, it's the perfect night out. I mean, we've done already three shows and the audience loves it!

"It's a variety show, so you get amazing dancing, then we have an amazing singer, Jai McDowell, who is an ex-champion of Britain's Got Talent - we're very lucky and blessed to have someone like him!

"But then also we bring comedy, myself and Ian, we have a bit of storytelling from the past, we do have some funny numbers when one of us is going to dress up and mix and match.

"So all in all, the audience gets real entertainment and it's an amazing night out - ever for the husbands. So ladies, please bring your husbands."

The pair are touring throughout September across the country with dates confirmed for venues in Cowes, Exmouth, Gravesend, Chelmsford, Chesterfield, Rhyl, Blackpool, Blackburn, Lancaster, Rugby, Newbridge, Stamford, Darlington, Burton-on-Trent, Eastbourne, Middlesbrough, Barnstaple, Epsom, and Felixstowe.

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