‘Strictly Come Dancing’ same-sex routine sparks almost 200 complaints to the BBC

Amy West
'Strictly Come Dancing' received almost 200 complaints when professionals Johannes Radebe and Graziano di Prima danced together earlier this month (BBC)

Strictly Come Dancing’s first same-sex routine is said to have triggered 189 complaints to the BBC.   

Earlier this month, the reality series made history when professionals Johannes Radebe and Graziano di Prima performed together to a live rendition of Shine by Emeli Sandé. 

Viewers praised the dance on social media, describing it as “progressive” and “emotional,” But now, Audience Services has revealed that others contacted the broadcaster to state that they found it “offensive” to see two men paired-up. 

Ofcom reports that it received one complaint regarding the same-sex partnership but notes that it generally encourages those who believe they have an issue to take it up with the BBC first.

Talking about the significance of the routine to HELLO! magazine, Radebe – who is gay – gushed: “For the first time in my life, I feel accepted for who I am. That says so much about the people of this country.

“To be able to dance with a friend I respect and adore is joyous. There’s bromance galore between us, but there were no male and female roles, just free movement. It was beautiful, classy and elegant.”  

Read more: ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ star Michelle Visage reveals she wasn’t asked to take part in ‘Strictly’ tour 

In its own response to the backlash, the BBC issued a statement that read: “Strictly Come Dancing is an inclusive show and is proud to have been able to facilitate the dance between Johannes and Graziano during the Professionals’ dance.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Johannes Radebe and Luba Mushtuk attend the "Strictly Come Dancing" launch show red carpet at Television Centre on August 26, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)

“They are dancers first and foremost, and their sex had no bearing on their routine.” 

Strictly has yet to feature a same-sex partnership between a professional and a celebrity but show bosses have said it’s something everyone would be open to in the future.

Meanwhile, Dancing on Ice, the ITV skating competition which follows a similar format, is set to see Steps singer Ian ‘H’ Watkins perform with series regular Matt Evers when it returns in 2020.  

Strictly Come Dancing continues on Saturday 23 November at 7pm on BBC One