Angry Strictly Come Dancing have slammed the BBC as ‘sexist’ and ‘ageist’ after judge Arlene Phillips was axed.
The BBC has been forced to defend its decision to replace experienced choreographer Arlene, 66, with 2007 winner Alesha Dixon, 30, on the judging panel of the hit reality show.
Some 300 angry messages have been left on the BBC’s Points Of View forums since Thursday when it was officially announced that Alesha would be taking over from Arlene, according to The Sun.
One user insisted that host Bruce Forsyth, 81, and judge Len Goodman, 65, would never have been treated in the same way as Arlene.
The fan wrote: “The decision to replace Arlene is OK – but choosing Alesha is ridiculous. It’s an attempt to chase X Factor ratings.
“If anyone doesn’t think this is sexist ask yourself: ‘Would the BBC have replaced Bruce with Gethin Jones or replaced Len with Peter Andre?’ Of course not.”
Others were furious that Arlene had been replaced by a younger, less qualified person on the judging panel of the next series, which starts in September.
Website user witch-of-oz said of Alesha: “She is not a dancer or choreographer. As usual, the BBC gets it wrong.
“I have just had a look at another forum of SCD fans and there isn’t one post in favour of Alesha.”
A BBC spokesman confirmed that it had received complaints – but was unable to give a final figure.
The spokesman said: “We have received complaints from viewers who are unhappy about the reports that Arlene Phillips will not be returning as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing this year.”
In light of the complaints, the BBC was forced to post a statement on its website to explain its decision to fans.
It reads: “We wanted to review Strictly Come Dancing’s format this year as we felt it was the right time to do so. Part of that process was reviewing the judging panel.
“We decided it would be a good idea to bring in someone like Alesha, who adds a new voice to the judging panel and has an insight into what the dancers go through.
“We are very grateful for Arlene’s six years on the show and are delighted she will be remaining close to the family with her new role as The One Show’s resident Strictly expert.”