Alesha Dixon has dismissed criticism that she is not qualified to judge Strictly Come Dancing‘s contestants as ‘nonsense’ and says she has been left ‘wounded’ by the backlash against her.

Alesha, 30 – who made her debut on Friday, replacing feisty choreographer Arlene Phillips, 66, on the panel – told the Radio Times: “It was all a shock to me, especially how quickly everyone jumped on the ageism argument.

“It’s nonsense to say that I’m not qualified to judge the dancers – I spent six years singing with Mis-Teeq, and another four as a solo artist where I had to pick my own dancers and audition them.”

“So I’m not new to this. Also, having competed on the show, I’ll be the only judge who understands what the celebrity dancers are going through.

“As a contestant, you’re on a physical and emotional journey. Unless you’ve walked in those shoes, you’ll never know how demanding it is.”

She continued: “When I read that I only won in 2007 because I was half-naked, I did take that seriously. That’s not someone offering a considered opinion, that’s someone being a b****.”

She added: “Whatever unkind things have been said about me, I’m now at a place in my life where I’m comfortable in my own skin. I just go out to be myself.

“Since all the controversy kicked off, I’d been wanting to get the show up and running and sink my teeth into it. So, let’s get it on.”

Read the full story on Alesha Dixon in the Radio Times.