Strictly Come Dancing fans have branded judge Shirley Ballas "sexist" and have called for her to be sacked from the hit BBC show.
The 62 year old panellist, who recently called for "respect" after receiving hurtful messages during live shows, has been accused of favouring male celebrity dancers to women on the programme.
Fans of the dance competition went into a frenzy on Sunday 9 October night's segment after she backed Richie Anderson, 34, and his pro partner Giovanni Pernice, 32, who were eliminated after a dance off with Fleur East, 34, and Vito Coppola, 30.
While fellow judges Craig Revel Horwood, 57, Anton Du Beke, 56, and Motsi Mabuse, 41, chose to save Fleur and Vito, Shirley said: "Well with the two couples the public put in the bottom two I would have saved Richie and Giovanni.”
Host Tess Daly, 53, then pointed out that it "of course makes no difference to the results," but fans were left fuming over the ordeal and called for Shirley to be booted off the show.
Flocking to Twitter, one person wrote: "Sexist Shirley would have saved Richie over Fleur. Ffs, Richie’s dance had negligible samba content and he fannied around the judges’ tables for half the dance. Fleur’s dance was elegant and beautiful. She has no credibility as a judge #Strictly," followed by an angry face emoji.
Another shared: "Shirley Ballas should be removed from the panel, she’s setting a bad example, she cannot celebrate the young, female celebrities. Her views are outdated and sexist. Please let this be her last year, or preferably week on, #Strictly".
A third said: "Shirley seems to have completely lost the plot this season. She is downright rude, sexist and blatantly has her favourites whether they have ability or not. I am rapidly losing all respect for her!!!"
Just a day after the show, Shirley took to her Instagram to post a cryptic message to her 240,000 followers.
Sharing an illustration of someone speaking with a smile on their face while their shadow scowled, a quote read: "Some people aren't loyal to you, they are loyal to their need of you. Once their need changes, so does their loyalty."
Despite the backlash, Shirley has consistently given Molly Rainford, 21, the highest scores – contributing towards her becoming the best performing female on the programme so far. Meanwhile, Shirley gave the male celebrity dancers the overall lower scores on Saturday night.
And while viewers have hit out at Shirley's comment on saving Richie and Giovanni, people at home were left unimpressed with the duo's Samba performance on Saturday night themselves as one person wrote: "Oh I’m sorry. It hurt my eyes to watch that dance," on Twitter.
Another said: "What the hell have I just witnessed!?”
While a third chimed: "The opening duo were absolutely awful. How is that a samba and why aren't the judges not slating that. Giovanni clearly is uncomfortable.”
OK! has approached Shirley's representatives as well as the BBC for further comment.
- Strictly fans 'work out' Giovanni and Richie's downfall as they leave the show
- Shirley Ballas accused of 'targeting' Ellie Taylor by Strictly viewers
- Strictly's Shirley Ballas calls for 'respect' after hurtful messages during live shows
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