Ashley Banjo defends Rufus Hound over Dancing On Ice comments

Alex Green, PA Entertainment Reporter
·3-min read

Ashley Banjo has defended Rufus Hound after the Dancing On Ice contestant took aim at the Government over its stance on free school meals.

The comedian, 41, prompted hundred of complaints to broadcasting watchdog Ofcom following his comments on last Sunday’s launch episode on ITV.

Diversity star Banjo, who sits on the judging panel, said it was “absolutely appropriate” that Hound was able to say what he wanted on the programme.

The 32-year-old added: “I have said this before. He is a comedian. He is an intelligent, emotional man who takes cues from the real world around him to formulate an opinion. That’s what we all do.

“And he said something in response which was the way he felt. Of course he is allowed to say it. That is his prerogative.

“If people agree, don’t agree, the idea that people aren’t allowed to express their opinion because the show is an in brackets ‘family show’ I think is nonsense.

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“I think what people are saying is, ‘It’s a family show and they only want opinions on the telly that they agree with’. That is a different thing.”

Sunday saw the judges put the comedian and his partner Robin Johnstone straight through to week three of the competition by giving the pair a golden ticket.

Dancing On Ice 2021
Dancing On Ice star Rufus Hound (Ian West/PA)

Visibly shocked, Hound said: “I’ve spent most of this year not being emotionally stable because the world stopped making sense and this does not make more sense of it. Thank you, I don’t know what is happening.

“We live in a world where the people we elect don’t want to feed hungry children, this is the least mad thing that has happened to me in a long time.”

Ofcom subsequently received 341 complaints about the episode and said the majority were made about his comments.

Last year Banjo and his dance troupe sparked more than 24,000 complaints with a performance on Britain’s Got Talent that referenced George Floyd and Black Lives Matter.

He said he had not reached out to Hound because he felt the stand-up did not need his support.

He said: “I don’t think I needed to. I don’t think Rufus is in need of support. I think he knows what he said and that is his opinion. I think he is absolutely fine to be honest.”

The dancer and presenter also addressed rapper Lady Leshurr becoming the first celebrity competitor to find themselves in the skate-off following the public vote, despite her earning 25 points from the judges and being joint top of their leaderboard.

Banjo said: “It obviously wasn’t to everybody’s tastes. She definitely wasn’t the worst skater on the night and in terms of performance and just general entertainment factor she was up there in the top, if not the top.

“So the fact that she is in the skate-off now, you can take from that what you will in terms of what it says about the vote, but I don’t think she deserves to be in the bottom two in my opinion.”

Dancing On Ice airs at 6pm on Sundays on ITV.

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