Shirley Ballas: Strictly Come Dancing fans call for judge to be ‘removed’ from panel

Shirley Ballas (BBC/Guy Levy)

Strictly Come Dancing viewers have called for Shirley Ballas to be replaced on the judging panel following a dispute about her recent comments.

The professional ballroom and Latin dancer has been the lead judge on the BBC dance competition since season 15 in 2017, when she replaced Len Goodman.

After Saturday’s (8 October) episode, celebrity contestants Fleur East and Richie Anderson received the fewest votes from the public and were at risk of elimination on Sunday’s results show.

Both celebrities danced with their respective partners before the judges were asked which pair they’d like to save.

Craig Revel-Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Anton Du Beke chose to save East and her partner Vito Coppola, securing their position in the next stage of the competition.

However, when asked how she would have voted, Ballas revealed that she would have chosen Anderson and his partner Giovanni Pernice to stay, despite a consensus among the other judges that Fleur and Vito’s routine showed more technical skill.

Watch: Who Is Strictly's Richie Anderson?

In response to Ballas’s remark, some viewers have expressed their disappointment and have claimed that she should leave the show.

“Shirley Ballas should be removed from the panel,” wrote one viewer on Twitter. “She’s setting a bad example, she cannot celebrate the young, female celebrities. Her views are outdated and sexist. Please let this be her last year, or preferably week on Strictly.”

Elsewhere, a viewer commented: “Have the producers told Shirley that this year she has to say she'd save the other couple if the other three don't? Two weeks now not unanimous when clearly one of the bottom two outdanced the other.”

Other viewers, however, have defended Ballas’s position. One fan tweeted: “Just because she scores the celebrities differently and [has opinions] doesn’t make her outdated and sexist. She has done nothing wrong, she is only doing her job.”

When contacted by The Independent, a representative for Ballas denied sexism being a factor in her decision.