Fleur East defends Shirley Ballas over 'Strictly' judging row
Fleur East has defended Shirley Ballas against angry Strictly Come Dancing fans, calling the criticism of the head judge "really unfair".
Singer East, 34, unexpectedly found herself in the dance off last weekend, sparking a torrent of online abuse aimed at Ballas when she said she would have voted to send East home.
Read more: Here's what you've missed in Strictly Come Dancing this week
Along with dance partner Vito Coppola, East won over three of the four judges who chose to keep them in the competition and send Richie Anderson and Giovanni Pernice home, but Ballas disagreed.
Ouutraged viewers accused the judge and dance pro of being "sexist" and having something against younger female celebrities - an allegation that has also been made in previous series.
But East clearly holds no grudge, as she told The Mirror of the online abuse about Ballas: "Oh my goodness, I couldn’t believe it. There’s a lot of heat in the cha cha chat room. And I think it’s really unfair, actually.
Read more: Miriam Margolyes wanted to tell Jeremy Hunt 'f*** you, b******'
“I have the utmost respect for all the judges. But Shirley...if you’ve not seen her dance, she’s incredible.
“So, any time I stand there I’m like ‘Just give me the notes, what do I have to do?’”
East added that it had been "a rough Sunday night", but that she was hoping to impress in tonight's show on BBC One.
After the dance off, many of the judges had made it clear that they were also surprised to see East and Anderson, who were both mid-table in the scoring, in the dance off but that they were there because that was how the viewers had voted.
During the week, fellow judge Anton Du Beke told BBC Radio Scotland that all of the experts had their own criteria that they were scoring on and that Ballas would be looking for technical points.
But Craig Revel Horwood wrote in his column in Best magazine: "Shirley seems to get great pleasure from contradicting me this year, doesn't she?!
"She's gunning for the big fight, I reckon. She's got that feistiness in her, she really went for my jugular in the first live show and, well, if you've been watching at all, you'll see she has continued to."
Strictly Come Dancing continues tonight at 6.30pm on BBC One.
Watch: Who is Strictly's Fleur East?