Last year, BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing found itself at the centre of a “racism” storm after viewers noticed that the first three celebrities to leave the competition were ethnic minorities.
Melvin Odoom, Tameka Empson, and Naga Munchetty were the first to bid farewell to the dancefloor in 2016, and when Holby City actress Chizzy Akudolu became the first to be eliminated from this series last night, fans took to social media to claim that “history is repeating itself”.
Chizzy found herself in the dance-off with Brian Conley after they both received the lowest combined score from the judges and the public, with the judges eventually voting to send Chizzy home after she performed the Foxtrot with dance partner Pasha Kovalev.
The actress was clearly emotional when she was sent home, sobbing as she thanked the judges and viewers for the opportunity.
Taking to Twitter last night, fans denounced the show for being racist:
Is it just me, or is #Strictly basically racist? Black people always seem to leave first.
— David Maloney (@dtrmcr) October 1, 2017
um yeah, #strictly somewhat racist voting pattern strikes again. Chizzy was fabulous, and shouldn't have gone this early.
— Jane E.M. Callaghan (@JaneEMCallaghan) October 1, 2017
is #Strictly racist? Im pretty sure a black contestant always goes home in the first week, does this mean viewers are inherently racist too?
— Radagast (@Radagast_uk) October 2, 2017
Amid the backlash, Melvin Odoom has publicly reached out to Chizzy to let her know that he understands how she feels.
He tweeted: “If anyone knows what you’re going through it’s me…you gave it your all @chizzyakudolu and that’s all you can do…we love you #Strictly”.
Chizzy replied: “Thanks mate. Ahhh… sucks right? We need to start a First Week Support Group #Strictly”.
Last year, Melvin’s exit prompted backlash after he was in the bottom two against singer Anastacia, who refused to take part in the dance-off for medical reasons.
Melvin was kicked off after it was revealed that he had the least amount of public votes but later denied that race played a factor in his, Tameka and Naga’s early departures.
Speaking exclusively to Yahoo Celeb UK at the time, the DJ explained: “If there was a racist issue we wouldn’t be there in the first place, so I think it has nothing to do with that.
“I think people are just trying to find a story out of nothing, essentially.
“Every single person on that show is amazing, whoever leaves is going to be a big story. With Laura and Tameka, their dance-off for me was like: ‘Whoever loses, this is going to be a sad outcome.'”
Yahoo Celeb UK have contacted reps for Strictly and Chizzy for comment.