The celebrity contestants of this year’s Strictly Come Dancing have offered their opinions on the debate around same-sex couples appearing on the show.
Last month, the BBC confirmed there were no plans for this year’s series to feature partners of the same sex. They said in a statement ‘Strictly has chosen the longstanding ballroom-dancing format of mixed-sex couples.’
This is despite some international editions of Strictly making the change.
‘I would love to dance with a same-sex partner’
However, when questioned by Gay Star News at last week’s press launch, most of this year’s contestants, such as Blue’s Lee Ryan and social media star Joe Sugg, said they backed the inclusion of same-sex couples on future series of the hit show.
The news followed openly gay TV star Dr Ranj Singh, also appearing on this year’s show, last month telling The Mirror: ‘I would love to dance with a same-sex partner. I would value a time when same-sex couples could dance on shows like Strictly. It is incredibly important. We are making progress but I think there is still time to go.’
Here is a rundown of each celebrity’s response to the issue when asked ‘How would you feel about same-sex couples featuring on the show in the future?’
Lee Ryan, Blue star and Susannah Constantine, TV star
Susannah: I don’t know anything about it.
Lee: I’m up for anything. The world’s a liberal place. I’m cool with whatever people want to do. But it’s not for us to decide.
Susannah: Yeah, out of our hands.
Lee: I’m not a producer. I just have to look at my two feet. And get judged!
Ashley Roberts, The Pussycat Dolls star and Charles Venn, Casualty actor
Ashley: Strictly is sticking to how the original ballroom world was set up, so I guess that’s up to them.
Charles: I’m a strong believer of ‘let love be’. Let love be. You know what I mean?
Graeme Swann, cricketer and Lauren Steadman, Paralympic triathlete
Graeme: I’m absolutely fine with it. It’s 2018, not 1918, isn’t it? But I don’t think they’re going down that road. I can understand why they’re sticking to the dance rules, but surely some time in the future it’ll happen. It wouldn’t bother me in the slightest.
Lauren: I don’t have an opinion, I pretty much agree with you. I suppose the show’s in that classic ballroom genre with one male and one female dancer. But perhaps in the future they’ll look to change it.
Graeme: I tell you what. If they did do it, I’d want Johannes. Wait until you see Johannes dancing! My God. This man is the greatest dancer that ever walked the planet. I swear to God, he’s made of rubber, that boy. I love him to pieces. He is amazing. I cannot stop staring at him dance. It’s hypnotic.
Kate Silverton, journalist and Seann Walsh, comic
Kate: Have you seen those women? [Laughs]
Seann: I think, erm, that’s erm, above my remit. I don’t really know…
Kate: Can I just have Oti? She’s so much fun! I mean, she’s seriously so much fun.
Seann: Me and Graziano.
Kate: Oh yeah!
Seann: The new guy.
Kate: It’s be like a mirror between you!
Seann: Well, Graziano is more what I think I look like when I’ve had a drink! You know when you catch yourself in the mirror when you come out of the toilet?!
Faye Tozer, Steps star and Danny John-Jules, TV and stage star
Danny: Ooh, that’s not really something we can really comment on. That would be an executive decision. It’s impossible for us to really have a say if, they haven’t spoken about it.
Faye: It’s an exciting question for the future, though.
Danny: For me, it wouldn’t mean two hoots. If I go back to 1978, my first ever show I did, I shared a dressing room with two gay guys. It would be so not a story for me. It’s a big story in the sort of, middle of the road, middle England shows. But in showbiz, it’s not a story.
Vick Hope, radio DJ and Joe Sugg, social media star
Joe: Erm, I think it’s 2018 you know? Like you should be able to just sort of dance with whoever you want. I guess.
Vick: In the future yeah, absolutely. I mean obviously this year we’re all mixed-sex couples, which is I guess the norm in ballroom dancing. That’s how it has been. But everything develops and everything – you know, we should move with the times. So we’ll see what happens. I would love to see that if I’m honest, yeah.
Stacey Dooley, broadcaster and Dr Ranj Singh, TV star
Stacey: I mean, I’m not an expert, and I don’t know what judges are looking for, so I suppose you’d have to ask the judges that question. I love Strictly, I think it is particularly inclusive, I think it is one of the shows that no one’s judged… well, judged on their dancing, but no one is judged by the person they are.
Dr Ranj: And we are a really diverse bunch. There aren’t many shows on TV that will showcase this amount of diversity. And I think that’s really important to recognise – you’ve got different backgrounds, you’ve got men, women, you’ve got people of colour, you’ve got LGBT+ people. It’s great. That’s something we should celebrate.
Strictly Comes Dancing airs at 7pm on BBC1 tonight. Remaining contestant Katie Piper was absent from last week’s press launch