The BBC has defended a decision to have a same-sex pairing on the new series of Strictly Come Dancing after receiving complaints from viewers about the move.
The corporation said Strictly was “an inclusive show” and that it had been “happy to facilitate” Nicola Adams’ request to be partnered with a woman.
The show, its statement continued, “is first and foremost about dance”.
According to the BBC, “the sex of each partner within a coupling should have no bearing on their routine”.
The statement was published on the complaints section of the BBC’s website in response to complaints received “from some viewers”.
It was announced earlier this month that Olympic boxer Adams would become the first contestant to be part of a same-sex pairing.
The move follows a one-off routine from last year’s series that saw two male professionals, Johannes Radebe and Graziano di Prima, dancing together.
Some applauded the show for the routine, but the BBC received 189 complaints from viewers who found it offensive.
Earlier this year ITV’s Dancing On Ice featured its first same-sex couple when it paired Ian Watkins – H from Steps – with professional skater Matt Evers.
In its statement, the corporation said Strictly was “proud to have featured same sex dancing amongst the professional dancers in group numbers in previous series”.
“We have stated, in the past, that we are open to the prospect of including same sex pairings between our celebrities and professional dancers, should the opportunity arise.”
In an interview with The Guardian this week, Adams said the same-sex pairing was “not really a big deal” and “not such an uncommon thing”.
“I guess it’s just breaking those boundaries and showing people that it’s OK,” said the former boxer, who won gold medals at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016.
Beginning in October, the 18th series of Strictly Come Dancing will have 12 celebrity contestants and a shorter run than usual.