Former Strictly Come Dancing star Kristina Rihanoff has said she thinks the celebrities and dancers are “under a lot of pressure” due to social media commentary surrounding the show.
The Russian professional dancer, 44, competed on the BBC programme for eight series between 2008-2015.
The remaining couples will continue the battle for the Strictly glitterball in week four of the competition on Saturday evening.
Rihanoff discussed on BBC Breakfast how the dancers and celebrities used to only receive the judges’ commentary about their performances, but now have the added pressure of instant feedback from the public through social media.
She said: “I think everyone is under a lot of pressure because they can read the comments, they can see what people say.
“When I joined the show it wasn’t like that, it was pure ballroom dancing, there were no extra things.
“And then a couple of years later, during my eight years on Strictly, all of a sudden everything changed, we were allowed props and more things to the production.
“So, it added a lot of pressure on the dancers, and of course the celebrities, to deliver even more spectacular numbers.
“And of course, anybody can sit at home and tweet something not very nice and we have to read that, and you think ‘I worked so hard all week’.”
She also said she feels the standard of the dance competition has got higher over the years and thinks the routines are “incredible” this season.
“I just admire the pros, and of course the celebrities, because it’s such intense work”, she said.
Former rugby player Ugo Monye had to withdraw from Saturday’s show due to back problems while comedian Robert Webb and partner Dianne Buswell withdrew from the competition completely over the TV star’s ill health.
Rihanoff added: “I think people are always surprised how intense physically and emotionally the show is.
“The thing when people start saying things like that ‘My medical professional is saying to me I have to take a little break’, people [think] ‘Oh it’s just an entertainment show, it’s a bit of fun, a couple of hours of dancing’.
“But it isn’t like that. You dance sometimes eight to nine hours a day to prepare your dance, you have only four days to prepare a dance, that’s it, because on Friday you’re already at the BBC doing rehearsal, so people don’t realise how intense that is.”
Strictly Come Dancing continues on Saturday at 7.10pm on BBC One.