Anton Du Beke has dismissed accusations that Strictly has become a “box-ticking exercise".
Du Beke, who is a judge on the BBC dance show, addressed criticism that this year’s line-up, which includes two same-sex pairings and ex-Paralympian Ellie Simmonds, who has dwarfism, is too politically correct and "woke".
“Strictly hasn’t gone woke — it’s modern,” he said.
“The show is going from strength to strength and is a reflection of all the people who watch the show.
“It’s inclusive and everybody gets involved,” he explained to the Daily Mail’s Eden Confidential column.
John Whaite, 33, who reached the final of last year’s series with Johannes Radebe as the first two-male pairing, also pushed back on an article that called the series a “woke box-ticking exercise”.
In a video posted to his instagram page, the Great British Bake Off star Waite slammed comparisons between him and this year’s same-sex pairing of Richie Anderson and Giovanni Pernice.
He said: "It’s an article that directly compares, on BBC’s Strictly, my partnership with Johannes with that of Richie [Anderson] and Giovanni. And it also compares Ellie Simmonds on the show to Rose Ayling-Ellis last year.
"Please don’t use my partnership with Johannes as a way to undermine or erode the beauty of Richie and Giovanni’s partnership," he shot back at claims that Radebe’s partnership seemed "natural" while Anderson and Pernice are a "mis-match".
He continued: “In using the comparisons between Rose and Ellie, I’m picking up that if a disability isn’t visible then it’s digestible, but as soon as it becomes visible, it’s difficult to watch.
“If you think the BBC showing this broad range of diversity and representation, if you think that’s indigestible to watch or woke, may I suggest that you don’t watch."
Actress Rose Ayling-Ellis, 27, who was the show’s first deaf contestant and was crowned series winner, shared Whaite’s video on Instagram condemning the article.
“Remember if you think TV is too ‘woke’, you have been living your life being privileged enough not to notice this,” she captioned the re-post. "It is a huge deal for those from the minority.
“And please don’t compare me to [Paralympian] Ellie [Simmonds], we both have completely different life experiences that are just not comparable.
“Just be open to listen and learn. No disabled people are the same. I myself am learning a lot from Ellie, who is amazing btw!”
The term “woke” was created by African Americans in the 1940s to symbolise awareness of social issues and movement against injustice, inequality, and prejudice.
But the word, which had been primarily used by black Americans up until the last few years, has now been appropriated by some as as an insult to mock “hypersensitivity” to social issues.