Judge Rinder leaps to the defence of Strictly co-star Ed Balls

The politician has faced increasing pressure to quit show

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Strictly star Judge Rinder has thrown his support behind fellow contestant Ed Balls amid accusations the BBC are trying to oust the former politician from the show.

The television judge revealed he felt “proud” of how much everyone had progressed during the competition’s first 10 weeks.

Judge Rinder, who scored 29 for a rumba on Saturday night to the Bill Withers hit, Lean On Me, said Ed’s  improvement each week meant he differed from previous novelty contestants.

(Peter Byrne/PA)

“The reality is I think that the British public would get pretty tired if it was a Jeremy Vine situation and he wasn’t getting better every week, or it was a kind of Ann Widdecombe situation.

He added: “But the reality is … on any fair and objective standard, every week he’s come out and tried his hardest and improved. You just watch the difference for example between his paso doble and the salsa and you know it would be unfair to come to any other conclusion.”

Former Labour MP Ed has survived up to week 10 of the dancing competition thanks to votes from viewers despite poor scoring from the judges.

The BBC has been accused of trying to remove the ex-shadow chancellor from the show after they organised the Cha Cha Cha challenge on Saturday night.

Judge Rinder said it was important to remember that Strictly is “an entertainment show”, adding: “I hope that the competition is genuinely about improving each week and everybody has, every single person in it so from my point of view if you look at the first dance each week to where we are now, I feel proud of our improvement.”

Judge Rinder and Oksana

The 38-year-old said he was surprised how committed to the show he had become but said there was little rivalry between the contestants.

“I’m a kind of stiff upper lip person to say the very least but I think, the show lasts till nine at night and sometimes tiredness can affect that to a degree but genuinely I’ve been surprised at how involved I’ve allowed myself to get into it.

“It’s because you work with somebody, in my case an amazing teacher, who invests all of her emotional and creative capital into making you look good, so you’re desperate for it to go well as much as for them as for yourself.

“I have been surprised yes. If you asked me a year ago that I would get emotional about a friend I’d made leaving a dance competition as in the case of Greg, I’d probably say oh stop being such a ninny.”

Judge Rinder

He also revealed he had been visiting McDonald’s more since joining the show because it’s the only place open when he finishes training late at night.

“It’s the only place that’s open at that time of night. They were rather shocked when I showed up late at night, the people at the drive-through.”

“I think when I showed up to the window the woman giving out the BBQ sauce thought she was going to get arrested.”