Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw has warned BBC bosses about the dangers of the ‘cult of youth’, after the changes to the Strictly Come Dancing panel.

Speaking to the Sunday Mirror, Bradshaw said that the corporation needed to be “sensitive to public opinion over issues like ageism”.

His remarks come just weeks after the BBC announced that Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips would be replaced by former series winner Alesha Dixon on the new series this autumn.

They have received over 1,500 complaints from viewers over the changes, many believing it is because of Phillips’ age even though this has been denied.

“The cult of youth has its limits and rightly so,” Bradshaw told the paper.

“With more and more of the population over 60 and that trend set to continue in years to come, I think the BBC and other organisations will have to reflect that in terms of the people they have on air. It’s important they reflect society as a whole.”

And when asked about claims that the BBC had wanted a younger judge for Strictly, Bradshaw said, “If that is the reason they did it, that would clearly not be acceptable. They may have other reasons.

“It’s very important, particularly when we have a growing elderly population whom we want to encourage to be active, that we should be employing more people on television in their 60s and even older.”