Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid clashed with a veteran DUP politician who said same-sex couples should not be allowed on Strictly Come Dancing because it would be too “challenging” to watch.
Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Jim Wells said he believes the BBC should not let two people of the same gender dance together on the programme after the broadcaster said it was “completely open” to having same-sex couples competing on the show in the future.
Hosts Morgan and Reid clashed with former DUP health minister Mr Wells, who said that Strictly is “family viewing”, adding: “You’ve had a busy week, you sit down with the family and you watch pure entertainment.
“The last thing you want is to be challenged or to be asked deep intellectual questions.”
Mr Wells, who makes his opposition to same-sex marriage widely known, said that he believes same-sex couples should only be shown on Strictly if it were after the watershed of 9pm.
He cited Blind Date, saying that the programme “went down the plughole” and that viewers switched off after the “radical” move to include homosexual and lesbian couples.
Morgan and Reid asked what time he thinks gay couples should be allowed on TV, to which he replied: “Exactly the same time as the BBC thought two years ago, 9pm.”
Morgan asked him: “What are you like at parties? Do you ever dance?”
Mr Wells said he rarely dances in public, to which Morgan said: “When you danced and men came on the dancefloor, how did you feel? At what point did you feel like a man entering your orbit became a problem for you?”
Reid also challenged Mr Wells’ views, asking: “Have you ever seen children dancing? They dance together, girls dance together, boys dance together, there’s nothing challenging about it.
“Your concern is only about seeing gay couples – it’s not about children.”
Morgan told him: “I think you’re just an old bigoted dinosaur, and you feel challenged because you don’t like the idea of scary gay people around you.”
Referring to former Strictly professional Robin Windsor, who appeared on the programme and was sat next to him, the presenter added: “There’s one right next to you Jim, the whole time you’ve been talking you’ve been in close proximity to a gay man.”
Windsor said that he thought Mr Wells’ belief that same-sex couples should only be seen dancing after the watershed was “an absolute disgrace”.
During the debate, Mr Wells also said his views are not a “repressed” thing after Morgan told him: “Most people who have this weirdly anti-gay sentiment at some stage in their life have had a ‘feeling’.”
After the politician claimed he was being insulted by Morgan, the broadcaster replied: “I’m not insulting you, I’m insulting your bigotry, which is irrational, inconsistent, makes no sense whatsoever, your favourite shows have loads of gay presenters on, there’s a gay judge on Strictly, you think that’s fine but you won’t have two people – who may not even be gay – dancing together.”
Mr Wells, who lost the DUP whip after criticising the leadership last year, asked if Morgan is meant to be impartial for the interview, to which Reid said: “How can you be impartial about homosexuality?”
The politician claimed he has received a lot of support for speaking out about his views, but that people are “scared to stand by traditional values” in fear of the backlash.
The BBC last week said that Strictly is an “inclusive show” and that they are “proud to have featured same-sex dancing amongst the professional dancers in group numbers in previous series”.
A spokesman said: “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.”