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Dame Arlene Phillips admits West End star Layton Williams DOES have an advantage on Strictly
Dame Arlene Phillips has admitted West End star Layton Williams has an advantage on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing.
Trained dancer Layton scored 36 out of 40 on Saturday for his Tango to Olivia Rodrigo’s Vampire with pro partner Nikita Kuzmin.
He earned a whopping 39 out of 40 from the judges in the preceding two weeks and was awarded the earliest 10 the series has ever seen in week four.
There is no rule that celebrities cannot have dancing experience before taking part in the show – but it has led to complaints of an unfair playing field between the contestants.
Now former judge Arlene, 80, has admitted the star does have an advantage over the other contestants, having performed on stage since the age of 12.
Unfair? West End star Layton Williams has been criticised for having an ‘advantage’ on Strictly as a trained dancer (pictured on Saturday for Halloween episode)
Debate: Dame Arlene Phillips, 80, admitted professional dancers have an advantage in an exclusive interview with MailOnline
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline at the Paul Strank Charity Gala, Dame Arlene said: ‘I love seeing Angela Ripton and Layton Williams, who I’ve worked with as a dancer. He’s amazing, and I’m very excited, because it’s people I know.
‘Anyone who’s danced is at an advantage, without question, because they know how to go forward and back, and they know right and left, and they understand their body.
‘They’re not starting from the beginning. If I’ve never done a step before – how do I go backwards, wait for my balance.’
Arlene went on to hail Layton as ‘one of the best dancers in the UK’ as he progresses swiftly through the dancing competition.
She continued: ‘Layton is a very special and peaceful human being. He gives everything he can and works so hard in everything he does, and he doesn’t need my advice.
‘And as dancers, I have to be honest, Layton is one of the best dancers in the UK.
‘He’s phenomenal! But he hasn’t done Ballroom and Latin and in America, on Dancing With The Stars, they have load and loads of people who have before, and we generally don’t, because we love an underdog here.’
A Strictly insider previously told MailOnline Layton ‘is not the first person with dance experience’ to have appeared on the show.
Experienced: Layton is a trained dancer and made his first appearance on stage at the age of 12
They added he ‘has never been trained in Latin and ballroom and was booked because he has a fantastic persona’.
Others who have appeared on Strictly with dancing experience include Kimberley Walsh, Abbey Clancy, Maisie Smith and Fleur East.
When Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts appeared on the show in 2018, she was criticised by fans for having an unfair advantage with her dance experience.
Ashley frequently landed in the bottom two after the public vote – despite earning high scores from the judges for her dances with pro partner Giovanni Pernice.
Speaking of the criticism of his ‘unfair advantage’, Williams said: ‘I’ve taken it on the chin, I get what everyone’s saying. But if you could be a fly on the wall in this rehearsal room, it’s not easy for me.’
And in another interview he said his stage experience was not directly relevant to Strictly, insisting: ‘I can’t stress enough how different [Strictly is]… it’s like a plumber trying to be an electrician!’
High scoring: Layton has scored 39 out of 40 on two occasions and also claimed the earliest 10 ever awarded
A source told The Mail on Sunday that Layton’s co-stars are becoming increasingly frustrated at having to compete against the dancing professional.
The source said: ‘Of course there have always been dancers of different standards on Strictly, that’s part of the show’s greatness.
‘But this is ridiculous, he is as good or even better than his professional partner.
‘There is such an uneven playing field here that it is impossible for any of the other contestants to have a chance of winning, even if the viewers do enjoy watching a celebrity’s journey.
‘While there might not be a rule that professional dancers can’t take part, it absolutely goes against the spirit of the show.
‘Look at someone like Krishnan Guru-Murthy, he has built up a huge fan base and is wonderful to watch, and Angela Rippon. But they are blown out of the water each week by someone who is a professional dancer.’
STRICTLY COME DANCING 2023: THE CONTESTANTS’ PROFILES
Angela says: ‘Having been a fan of Strictly since day one, and as a former presenter of Come Dancing, this will be quite an adventure for me. A scary one, considering I’m about to be 79. But I’m looking forward to the challenge, and perhaps being able to learn to dance the Argentine Tango.’
Amanda says: ‘I’m thrilled to have been asked to do Strictly. I’m actually really shy and self-conscious so this will be a great opportunity for me to overcome those things.’
Layton says: ‘Absolutely buzzing to confirm that I will be taking part in THE most iconic dance competition in the UK! It’s time to bring it to the Ballroom. So excited to learn new skills from the best. Bring on the sequins… ALL the sequins!’
Krishnan says: ‘I’m surprised, delighted and slightly confused to find myself taking part in Strictly on the basis of ‘You only live once!’ I can’t wait to start learning to dance, but I am slightly worried about my general decrepitude.’
Profession: Comedian and radio presenter
Eddie says: ‘WOW. Anyone who knows me, understands that music and dance is so important and central to who I am. I’m so unbelievably proud and honoured that Strictly and the BBC have asked me to join the 2023 Team. I promise you, I’m going to give it everything I’ve got. This is going to be a VIBE.
Profession: TV presenter
Angela says: ‘I’m not particularly fit, I’ve no idea how my pelvic floor is going to react to this dancing. I’ve never done any dances apart from drunken jiving at a wedding!’
Profession: Documentary maker and former Love Island star
Zara says: ‘I am so excited to be joining the world of Strictly! I grew up watching it every year with my nan and she was the biggest Strictly fan. We would dance around the house and I have such fond memories of that time in my life.’
Profession: Actor and presenter
Adam says: ‘I can’t dance to save my life but I’m buzzing to learn and have a good laugh with my pro. Get me on that dance floor…I can’t wait!’
Profession: Coronation Street star
Ellie says: ‘It still doesn’t feel real that I’m going to be doing Strictly!! It’s always been a dream of mine so I guess dreams really do come true!!!!’
Profession: EastEnders star and model
Bobby says: ‘I’m so excited to be part of the Strictly line up, I can’t wait to start training like a professional dancer and adding a few moves to my locker. I’m looking forward to performing in-front of everyone.’
Nigel says: ‘I’m amazed, excited, and terrified to be doing Strictly. As an armchair fan of the show I have watched in awe as people have twirled and gyrated across the screen. And now it’s my turn…..gulp!’
Profession: Broadcaster and ex tennis player
Annabel says: ‘I have always loved watching Strictly and can’t quite believe I’m going to be part of this magical show – swapping tennis balls for glitter balls and looking forward to finding some joyfulness in the process.’
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