Louie Spence accuses BBC of 'box-ticking' for picking Motsi Mabuse to replace Strictly's Darcey Bussell

Danny Thompson
Contributor
Motsi Mabuse during the Belvedere X Janelle Monae event at Hotel Zoo on July 8, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Franziska Krug/Getty Images for Belvedere)

Strictly Come Dancing judge Louie Spence has accused the BBC of “box-ticking” after it chose Motsi Mabuse to be a new judge on the show.

Spence claimed Mabuse is a “nobody” who was picked so Strictly would have “somebody of colour”.

He suggested professional dancer Anton Du Beke would have replaced former judge Darcey Bussell had he “come out as gay”.

Speaking of Mabuse, who has previously judged on the German version of the show, Spence said: “I don’t know her. She is a nobody. She isn’t a celebrity. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t put Anton there - everyone loves him as a pro dancer on the show - unless it was because they wanted another woman on the panel.

Louie Spence is evicted from the Celebrity Big Brother House at Elstree Studios on September 11, 2013 in Borehamwood, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

“Also, they’ve got somebody of colour, which is being diverse. They like to tick every box. I’m not saying she’s not credible, but maybe that’s why they chose her.”

He added: “There’s all the boxes that have to be ticked now, the box for the gay, the box for the lesbian, the box for the black, the box for Asian.

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“Sometimes they don’t tick the box for the show, but they tick the box for the diversity or the inclusive and all that crap. But sometimes maybe people aren’t right for it. Just choose the right people.”

Spence did predict, however, that Mabuse would go down well with audiences: “After one episode, everyone will most probably love her.

"But that’s how fickle it is. You only have to be on TV for five minutes and fart and you can become famous. But if she’s qualified for the job, that’s all that counts.

"I’m not saying her credentials aren’t valid. I’m saying maybe that’s the reason why Anton wasn’t chosen.”

Speaking of Du Beke, Spence continued: “He would’ve been the perfect judge. He’s got great personality, great wit. You’ve got Craig Revel Horwood who’s a villain, Bruno Tonioli the camp queen, a bit like me, and Shirley Ballas being serious.

"Then you’d have had Anton, who really knows what he is talking about. He just didn’t tick enough boxes. If he’d have come out as gay, he might have got there.

"It’s not just about his talent and his personality. It’s having to be diverse and having to have two women on the panel and not three men, so then it’s men-heavy.”

Anton Du Beke attends the red carpet launch for 'Strictly Come Dancing 2018' at Old Broadcasting House on August 27, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

The comments were disregarded by show producers.

A BBC spokesman said: “Motsi got the job because she was the best candidate. Any suggestion to the contrary is completely wrong and insulting.”

Kate Phillips, controller of Entertainment, added: “We didn’t take finding Darcey’s replacement lightly. Motsi’s credentials made her our first choice.”

Strictly is expected to return to screens in early autumn.