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Strictly's Len Goodman says same-sex pairing will 'turn off' older viewers and he would rather keep show 'traditional'

STRICTLY Come Dancing will "turn off older viewers" if they stick with same-sex pairings, former judge Len Goodman has claimed.

The BBC One show will, for the first time, feature a same-sex pairing with Olympic boxer Nicola Adams.

But Len, who left Strictly Come Dancing in 2016, has suggested that "traditional" viewers may "not be sure" of what they are watching.

"A lot of older people are traditionalists – they used to go ballroom dancing and most people's nans and grandads met probably in a dance hall," he said

"The older viewers have their certain traditional ways about it all so might not be sure."

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, he added: "But look – I suppose the good thing is that most older people I don't think vote, so it won't matter much in that way."

After the BBC confirmed there would be a same-sex pairing – it is thought Nicola will be partnered with professional dancer Katya Jones – there were 189 complaints made.

In a statement, the BBC said: "Strictly Come Dancing is an inclusive show and is proud to have featured same sex dancing amongst the professional dancers in group numbers in previous series.

"We have stated, in the past, that we are open to the prospect of including same sex pairings between our celebrities and professional dancers, should the opportunity arise.

"Nicola Adams requested an all-female pairing, which we are happy to facilitate. The show is first and foremost about dance, the sex of each partner within a coupling should have no bearing on their routine."

ITV show Dancing On Ice became the first British competition show to feature a same-sex pairing when in 2019 Ian H Watkins was paired with professional skater Matt Evers.

The Irish version of Strictly, Dancing With The Stars, has already featured two same-sex pairings, with Brian Dowling and Kai Widdrington, and Lottie Ryan and Emily Barker, dancing together.

Nicola, 37, will also be the first female contestant not to wear a dress on Strictly.

The Olympic gold medallist has asked to take to the dancefloor in trouser suits when she stars in the show’s first same-sex couple.

Nicola, who is dating model Ella Baig, 22, revealed earlier this month that she insisted on being paired with a female pro.

She said: “They wanted to know if I wanted to be on the show and I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do it, but I want to dance with another female.’ It’s really important, and it’s a big step for the show as well.  

“It’s nice to see that we’re able to move on. I just can’t wait to get some dancing done.”

Other hopefuls for the shorter 2020 season include EastEnders' star Maisie Smith, Good Morning Britain host Ranvir Singh, and comedan Bill Bailey.

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