Aston Merrygold’s elimination from Strictly Come Dancing on Sunday night was the most shocking moment of the series so far.
And now head judge Shirley Ballas has broken her silence on just why she chose to send the JLS star home following his dance-off against Saturdays singer Mollie King.
Many viewers were outraged by the decision, believing Aston was the better dancer throughout the series, and immediately branded the vote a ‘fix’ and claimed it was favouritism.
But appearing on Strictly spin-off show It Takes Two on Wednesday night, Shirley explained just why she saved Mollie.
“It’s an awful decision to have to make, to send anybody home, but you have to judge on that particular dance there in front of you,” she said.
“Not past performances or future performances, just right there and then.”
Shirley added: “I urge everybody at home, you have to vote.”
“Look at Ruth [Langsford],” added Shirley. “She got a four but she was saved. She didn’t go in the bottom two. Aston and Janette shouldn’t have been in the bottom two.”
Shirley was on It Takes Two to teach host Zoe Ball and the viewers how to do the perfect Cha Cha Cha.
But, as with most things in life, not everyone was a fan…
One viewer sniped: “Shirley Ballas is even awful on It Takes Two. You can tell she used to teach but no charisma or personality at all. I want Len Goodman dancing with Claudia again… at least it was fun!!!”
But taking it all in her stride, Shirley casually fired back: “Sorry you feel that way. My mum would disagree.”
Many fans then rushed to Shirley’s defence, saying they’re enjoying her addition to the judging panel this year.
One wrote: “I disagree too I think you are great and you are really great has a judge. Love you Shirley, guess we have to accept not everyone will like us.”
A second said: “Shirley you are a breath of fresh air, fantastic analysis and you have a lovely bit of edge. We love you on Strictly and ITT. You’re just what Strictly needed.”
And a third tweeted: “It’s refreshing to finally have an informed, articulate critique, delivered with passion and humility- oh & she’s a former world Champion.”
Meanwhile, Shirley found herself on the receiving end of some pointed remarks from fellow judge Craig Revel Horwood this week, after he criticised her technical feedback.
Speaking to The Sun, Craig said: “Shirley is this year’s villain. She’s frighteningly technical with her criticism, and I know the audience might struggle with that.”
However, a show insider insisted BBC bosses are thrilled with Shirley’s feedback to the celebrities.
A source said: “Bosses are delighted with how she’s getting on and like her detailed critique.
“She’s been told to carry on and ignore the trolls.”