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Former Strictly stars back BBC over drag routine

Michelle Visage (Ian West/PA)
Michelle Visage (Ian West/PA)

Former Strictly Come Dancing stars Michelle Visage and Catherine Tyldesley have sided with the BBC over its stance on a drag performance that aired during the celebrity dancing competition.

On Saturday, three of the BBC One show’s male professional dancers wore wigs and high heels while performing a medley of songs from the musical Priscilla Queen Of The Desert.

On Wednesday the BBC said in a statement the programme is an “inclusive show” as it defended the routine.

Strictly Come Dancing Launch 2019 – London
Catherine Tyldesley (Ian West/PA)

RuPaul’s Drag Race star Visage, 52, who competed in the programme last year alongside professional partner Giovanni Pernice, praised the broadcaster in a post on Instagram.

Alongside a photo of a news story reporting the BBC statement, she wrote: “This is a huge part of why I’m honoured to be part of the BBC Strictly family.

“And look at my partner Giovanni Pernice giving it EVERYTHING in drag!”

Tyldesley, 37, who also starred in the 2019 series, said the routine was a “joy to behold”.

The actress added in an Instagram post: “Strictly is inclusive… of EVERYONE.

“EVERY human being has a right to be present AND represented.”

The BBC said: “We received complaints from viewers who felt it was inappropriate for some of the male professional dancers to be dressed in drag for the opening dance…

“It was intended to be a fun and entertaining musicals dance for our viewers who are used to and expect Strictly to be glamorous.

“We feel that it’s important to allow the choreographers and professional dancers to exercise creative freedom when putting together routines for a programme of this nature.

“Strictly is an inclusive show and we always ensure that the programme’s content is appropriate.”

The statement came after Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood said critics of the show’s drag performance should “turn the TV off”.

Strictly Come Dancing Launch 2019 – London
Craig Revel Horwood (Ian West/PA)

He said drag was part of “real life” and urged those who took issue with it to “open your eyes”.

He told the PA news agency: “If you can’t grow with society then turn it off. It’s crazy.

“If people knew what Priscilla Queen Of The Desert actually was, like the musical and they saw that, then they would know that the boys were acting as these characters in the play.

“That’s the whole point of having musicals week and movies week, so you get to play these wonderful and vibrant characters.”

The dance was led by South African professional Johannes Radebe, who last year made history on the show by dancing with fellow pro Graziano di Prima.

The routine, which featured rainbow fans, also sparked praise from viewers.

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