Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Wells slams BBC's same-sex partner move on 'beautiful' Strictly Come Dancing

MLA a fan of the show

Jim Wells MLA said he'll miss Strictly, but will watch Casualty instead.
Jim Wells MLA said he'll miss Strictly, but will watch Casualty instead.

By Eimear McGovern

The former Stormont health minister Jim Wells has said he will not watch the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing after bosses announced they would allow same-sex pairings on the series for the first time, but admitted he would miss the show.

Show producers said they were "open" to allowing same-sex pairings on the series in 2020, something Mr Wells described as a "reprobate" step.

The South Down MLA has had the DUP whip removed over disagreements with his party.

Mr Wells - who first revealed he would no longer watch the show on the BBC Radio Five Live Stephen Nolan Show - does not have a television or a TV licence but said he had an arrangement to watch the televised ballroom dancing competition with friends.

"I don't have a TV but I watch Strictly Come Dancing with friends, a couple who are avid enthusiasts so they regularly invite me round for dinner to watch it," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I don't and I won't [have a tv] because if Stephen Nolan's on £420k a year, the money they're paying their presenters is absolutely obscene."

Mr Wells said he will miss the programme, which he said was "wonderful family viewing".

"Now we've decided to introduce same-sex partners as demanded by the LGBT community. This goes out at 7.30pm on a Saturday evening when families want to sit down and watch something that won't be challenging, won't ask any awkward questions, won't be embarrassing. It's going to ruin it for family viewing.

"Once you get past the watershed, there's plenty of programmes that cater for the demands of the LGBT community. Why are we damaging what has been seen as sacrosanct?".

Mr Wells said he'll have to find something else to watch on a Saturday evening. But he lamented the loss of Strictly to his viewing habits, describing the show as a "beautiful idea".

"We'll watch something else, there's Casualty or something we can watch."

He said some of his favourite parts of the series were when Anne Widdecombe MEP took part in 2010, or when the journalist John Sergeant partnered with Kristina Rihanoff in series six - during which he dragged his partner around with him like she was "a sack of potatoes".

"I would be unteachable if I was on Strictly, it is a beautiful idea - a celebrity and a trained dancer. It has given us some of the most classic TV moments.

"I will miss Strictly - my favourite programme is Have I Got News For You and also the News Quiz on Radio 4," he said.

A report in the Daily Mirror on Saturday revealed same-sex pairings will be allowed from next year, with the BBC saying it was “completely open” to the idea.

A spokesman said: “Strictly Come Dancing is an inclusive show and we are proud to have featured same-sex dancing amongst the professional dancers in group numbers in previous series.

“We are completely open to the prospect of including same-sex pairings between our celebrities and professional dancers in the future, should the opportunity arise.”

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