The BBC has gotten into a bit of hot water for one of their competition shows recently. Strictly Come Dancing, which is the British dancing competition that came to the United States as Dancing with the Stars, aired a same sex dance during its November 3 results show. The performance, which was given by professional dancers Johannes Radebe and Graziano di Prima, has led to 189 complaints from viewers about the partnership.
According to the BBC, which published a complaints report last week, each of those 189 grievances over the routine was due to those audience members feeling that it was "offensive to feature two men dancing as a pair." As you can see from the photo above, which features a snippet of the Graziano di Prima and Johannes Radebe performance, the dance did have the two men embrace each other instead of simply dancing side by side, which appears to be the issue for those who wrote in to the BBC.
Strictly Come Dancing has been a staple of British television since it debuted in May 2004, but this was the first time that the show had a same sex couple dance on air. A same sex couple has never competed for the top prize, but a statement released by the BBC made note of the fact that those behind the series and broadcaster are proud of the performance.
Strictly Come Dancing is an inclusive show and is proud to have been able to facilitate the dance between Johannes and Graziano during the professionals’ dance. They are dancers first and foremost, and their sex had no bearing on their routine.
If you're wondering whether or not the complaints about Strictly Come Dancing's same sex routine will cause the show to halt any future plans for more of the same, its unlikely. The BBC complaint report that revealed the Strictly Come Dancing objections, which covered a two week period of programs released on the network, also showed that it's not unusual for their shows to get at least as many complaints for other things. In fact, eight other shows got over 100 complaints, with topical debate show Question Time getting 1,057 people to write in about a factual error.
It should also be noted that those 189 viewers who took the time to write in about their objections to the routine seem to be in an absolute minority. According to Deadline, that particular Strictly Come Dancing results show pulled in 9.8 million total viewers, and while it's true that most people who see something they don't like on a TV show probably won't go through the trouble of contacting the show or network about it, it's also likely the case that most of those who saw the performance weren't truly offended by it.
For the record, Dancing with the Stars featured a Judge’s Team-Up Challenge dance in 2016 that started off with traditional partners before briefly switching to two seductive same sex pairs and then switching back, so it's not an unprecedented occurrence in Strictly / DWTS land.
Dancing with the Stars Season 28 airs on ABC, Mondays at 8 p.m. EST through November 25.