Strictlys Layton Williams defended by Lesley Joseph in dance experience row

Strictly: Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin perform Argentine Tango

Birds of a Feather star Lesley Joseph has shared her thoughts on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing as the BBC competition heats up for the Blackpool special.

The pantomime legend, who competed on the show in 2016, said she is loving the “really good” series so far and is particularly impressed with West End star Layton Williams and ex Coronation Street actress Ellie Leach.

Throughout the series, 29-year-old Layton has been hit with criticism about his already known dance knowledge from his 16 years in the West End and being trained in jazz, tap, and ballet.

EastEnders star Michelle Collins was one of his critics recently claiming it was “not fair” to have him on the show as he’s already a professional.

Speaking exclusively to ahead of her stint in Jac and the Beanstalk, Lesley, 78, said: “I think Layton is brilliant, the last one he did, the Tango, was sensational.

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“He’s a dancer, but it is an entertainment show too, you can’t have everybody who couldn’t dance.

“You have to have some people who go on more of a journey. And at the end of the day, it’s up to the public to vote for who they want to vote for.

“So, they’ll either vote for someone who’s been on a journey or they’ll vote for Layton, who is b****y brilliant, and that’s what it boils down to.”

Lesley went on to say she has also been impressed with Angela Rippon and Annabel Croft’s efforts so far, but was sad to see her friend Les Dennis leave in the first week after his “very difficult” Samba routine.

Layton recently hit out at the “tiresome” criticism he had been receiving as he addressed just how different Ballroom and Latin is to what he already knows.

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He spilled: “I know the cameras are in the room when we’re doing the training, but I wish people could sit there and watch how hard it is for me just to grasp even the basics, especially because Niki [Nikita Kuzmin] is not exactly holding back.

“He’s giving me the hardest choreography. This stuff is not easy. And it doesn’t come to me like that, and people roll their eyes going ‘yeah, yeah’, but I’m really just working my a**e off like everybody else.

“So it is a little bit frustrating to hear that, but I’m trying to think about the bigger picture as to what else can I give to people,” he added on the Where There’s a Will, There’s a Wake podcast.

Last week, Layton and his dance partner Nikita scored an almost perfect 40 for their impressive Argentine Tango.

For six of the eight weeks so far, the dancing duo have been awarded 35 points or more by the four judges.

The pair will be hoping to do the same in the Blackpool special this weekend performing a Couple’s Choice routine to Ain’t No Other Man by Christina Aguilera.

Strictly Come Dancing: Blackpool Special airs Saturday at 6.40pm on BBC One.

Jac and the Beanstalk begins its spectacular adventure at New Theatre from Saturday 9th December 2023 until Sunday 7th January 2024.

For more information, or to book, visit here.

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