Strictly Come Dancing’s head judge Shirley Ballas has expressed her admiration for Mike Bushell’s attitude in the face of trolling and online death threats.
The dancing pro and TV star often voted to save BBC sports presenter Bushell from the dance-off, but chose to send him home instead of Michelle Visage in his fourth week running in Strictly’s bottom two this weekend.
However, she wrote in her Hello! column that while his time on the show was up, she made sure to tell him how much she admired his attitude after he was bullied and abused by some viewers.
Ballas wrote: “I made sure to speak to Mike afterwards though and tell him how much I admire him.
“After everything he's been through, including online trolling and death threats, he still had his head held high week after week and tried his best.
“He came in with grace, he danced with grace and he went home with grace – he showed everyone what a true professional looks like.”
The vicious comments suffered by Bushell and his dance partner Katya Jones even included death threats warning him to didn’t quit the BBC dance contest.
Bushell, his wife Emily and his BBC Breakfast colleague Dan Walker made public pleas for the abuse to stop, and Jones quit social media to avoid seeing the worst of the insults.
"I was really disappointed last week with the backlash"@emilybushell80 tells #BBCBreakfast she's glad @mikebreakfast spoke out about abuse over #Strictly, as some people are realising it hurts others. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/muCuv1aSTp— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) November 4, 2019
Bushell lost out to Visage in Sunday’s results show, meaning he just misses out on a trip to Blackpool, but left the contest in good humour by leading his co-stars in a conga around the ballroom.
Ballas also named Karim Zeroual, Michelle Visage, Kelvin Fletcher, Saffron Barker and Emma Barton as potential series champions in her column, meaning that the only two celebrities she doesn’t see winning are Alex Scott and Chris Ramsey.