Bruno Tonioli: 'Strictly' same sex decision can’t be about ‘headline chasing’

Julia Hunt
Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli

Bruno Tonioli has said Strictly Come Dancing shouldn’t following in Dancing On Ice’s footsteps and have a same sex couple just to make headlines.

The current series of ITV’s ice-skating show made history by pairing celebrity contestant Ian “H” Watkins with professional skater Matt Evers, and there has been talk about whether Strictly will follow its example when it returns later this year.

Read more: Dancing On Ice has coronavirus measures in place

When Steps singer Watkins was eliminated from the competition earlier this month, he issued a challenge to the BBC’s ballroom contest, saying: “It’s your turn next.”

Strictly judge Tonioli told The Sun that the show needs to find right pair to follow suit.

He said: “We would have to be very careful because we wouldn’t want to do it just to get headlines."

Ian Watkins amd Matt Evers during the Dancing On Ice 2019 photocall (Mike Marsland/WireImage)

"It has to be the right person and couple for it to work."

The 64-year-old added that “the search needs to start and it’s something that is possible”.

But he warned that it should not just be about “headline chasing”.

Strictly Come Dancing has been under rising pressure to feature a same sex couple over the last few years.

During last year’s series, male dancers Johannes Radebe and Graziano Di Prima performed the programme’s first individual same sex routine.

Read more: Johannes Radebe felt liberated after dance

Their performance to Emeli Sande’s Shine triggered close to 200 complaints from the public, which Tonioli was dismayed at.

He wrote on Twitter at the time: “It’s hard to believe after such progress in society and many other topics going on that over 200 people felt so upset they complained when 2 men danced with each other…

“I just don’t know what to say… Very sad. #bbcstrictly.”

He added in another post: “Just speechless...

“With everything else going on in the world this is what people find offensive...”