Jeremy Kyle and Kevin O'Sullivan have been hit with backlash after they branded the latest series of Strictly Come Dancing as 'woke'. The pair made the comments as part of Piers Morgan: Uncensored on TalkTV on Wednesday, with Kyle stepping in to host the show in the absence of the former Good Morning Britain man.
They were joined by brothers AJ and Curtis Pritchard, who were among those who disagreed with criticism of Strictly. AJ has previously been a professional on Strictly while Curtis was one of the dancers on Ireland's Dancing with the Stars before going on Love Island.
Kyle, who presented The Jeremy Kyle Show for 14 years until its cancellation in 2019, claimed that the BBC show now "ticks boxes" with its celebrity line-up. He also said that Craig Revel Horwood, known for his gruff demeanour had "gone beige as well", reports the Express.
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As part of his scathing rant, Kyle said: "So Strictly Come Dancing was once the staple of Saturday night TV with over 10 million people tuning in every week. But there are now claims it has become a ‘box-ticking exercise’ and has become so woke it’s unwatchable.
"From having same-sex couples with absolutely zero chemistry to Paralympic champion Ellie Simmonds who has knocked down barriers her whole life, but how will the show’s first contestant with dwarfism be able to perform dances like the tango and the waltz when her dance partner is twice her size?"
Asked by Kyle whether or not the show, which this year features Bedminster comedian Jayde Adams, had "gone woke", TalkTV's O'Sullivan said: "I used to have to watch Strictly every week because in another life I was a TV critic. The point is, I respect the fact that it was a great show that millions of people absolutely love.
"The BBC has turned it into a sort of woke-fest with single-sex couples, we’ve got Ellie now with dwarfism, they’re very proud of that.
"Now that’s fine, if the BBC want to do that, that’s fine. But they should ask themselves, ’Is that what the audience wants?’.
"Because in my day when I had to watch it, the launch show used to get 15 million, this launch show just now got just over six million. So the audience seems to be saying no."
Kyle then cut across his TalkTV colleague to bring AJ and Curtis into the discussion. However, they were quick to criticise any notion from Kyle or O'Sullivan that Strictly had 'gone woke'.
Kyle asked his guests: "Have they taken a programme that appealed to everybody across every social barrier, right, and gone, ‘Oh, it’s really important we don’t upset them?’"
AJ said: "You [Kevin] hit the nail on the head, you said they’re proud of it, they’re proud to show the diversity, they’re proud to be inclusive and I think that’s a really positive thing in this day and age.
"If they didn’t do that, we wouldn’t be happy," he added before brother Curtis then suggested the show dropped in popularity because a number of famous professionals have exited the series.
Criticism of Kyle and O'Sullivan's position did not just come from inside the studio. Some viewers took to social media to take aim at the pair.
Travlinman said: "We live in a multicultural society - look around you - why on earth should an all white line up be normal!"
Ansi said: "I don't remember the unwoke complaining when an old woman who couldn't dance (Ann Widdicombe) was included on the programme. Why is the right-wing so nasty and hate filled."
Another said: "[Jeremy Kyle] is no different from Katie Hopkins, Jeremy Clarkson and the other guy, the one that is mad in love with Meghan, oh yeah piers"
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