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Charlotte Hawkins reveals fears Brendan Cole’s defence of her contributed to Strictly Come Dancing axe

She's still reeling from the pro dancer's shock Strictly exit

Former Strictly Come Dancing contestant Charlotte Hawkins has revealed her sadness at Brendan Cole’s axe from Strictly Come Dancing.

The Good Morning Britain co-host admitted on Wednesday’s show that she’d even wondered if Brendan sticking up for her last series when she was criticised by the judges had contributed to his departure.

Talking to her co-hosts, Susanna Reid, Piers Morgan, and Alex Beresford about finishing 13th on the last series with Brendan, Charlotte, 42, said: “I hope it was nothing to do with me. Who knows? It’s a BBC decision, isn’t it? I think it’s really sad. He’s been there since the beginning, he’s done 15 series.”

Susanna, 47, asked: “Did he get too fight-y with head judge, Shirley [Ballas]?

Charlotte replied: “That’s what people are saying. He was one of those ones who did speak his mind. He had my back when the judges were being harsh in their criticism, let’s put it that way.

“One week it was justified, there was another point where he felt it was unfair, but I think you should be allowed to speak your mind, so I hope it’s not to do with that.”

Piers, 52, added: “I think the BBC have made a massive mistake here”, as Charlotte confirmed she’d had “hundreds of messages” from upset fans after the news.

She went on: “I saw [Brendan] after the [announcement] and it’s difficult for him. For years and years this has been a massive part of his life.”

Trying to wind her up, Piers asked Charlotte again if it could be her fault, and she looked upset, adding: “When I looked at all the partners and realised I did the worst out of all of them for him, I did feel very bad that he went out…”

Read more: Piers Morgan launches campaign to re-hire Brendan Cole

The group later returned to the conversation, touching again on the rumoured conflict between Brendan, 41, and the judges.

Charlotte explained: “I was really upset by [the criticism]. I felt he had my back and was defending me. I think your professional dance partner should be able to speak out if they think there has been unfair treatment or a criticism has been unjustified.”

It came after Tuesday’s shock announcement that the Strictly Come Dancing veteran had been axed from the show.

He made the emotional revelation on ITV’s Lorraine, telling presenter Lorraine Kelly: “This is quite hard to talk about. The BBC haven’t renewed my contract – we get renewed year on year – and they made an editorial decision not to have me back on the show.

“I’m a little bit in shock. I’m quite emotional, a bit raw about it.”

The professional dancer has taken part in every series since it began in 2004, partnering with everyone from Kelly Brook to Lisa Snowdon, Lulu to Kirsty Gallacher, and was crowned champion with Natasha Kaplinsky in 2004.

The Strictly Twitter account issued a statement wishing the dancer well.

Read more: Charlotte Hawkins offers Brendan Cole shoulder to cry on

It read: “We’d like to thank Brendan Cole for being part of the show since the beginning – winner of the first series – and for the contribution he has made to its success.

“We wish him all the very best for the future.”