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Strictly star causes backlash after ‘squatter camps’ jibe at Blackpool

New Strictly Come Dancing star Johannes Radebe (Ian West/PA)
New Strictly Come Dancing star Johannes Radebe (Ian West/PA)

A new Strictly Come Dancing star has sparked fury after revealing his colleagues warned him not to “expect much” from Blackpool and compared it to a shanty town.

The BBC’s hit show makes a pilgrimage each year to the Blackpool Tower Ballroom and South African dancer Johannes Radebe, who is new to the series, said he had discussed the seaside town with his co-stars.

According to the Daily Mirror, he said he had been warned Blackpool is like a “squatter camp”, a term used in his native country to describe shanty towns.

Johannes Radebe
Johannes Radebe has caused a backlash with comments on Blackpool (Ian West/PA)

He told the newspaper: “Growing up, for me there’s always been the Blackpool championship… and when you look at Blackpool from the inside, it’s majestic.

“And you would think it would be in a very posh area as it hosts one of the biggest events in the dancing calendar.”

He added: “And apparently… they’re like the squatter camps.”

The comments sparked anger from Blackpool residents, with business owners rushing to defend the town.

Strictly traditionally makes the journey north midway through the competition and the Blackpool Tower Ballroom is where the original Come Dancing series was filmed in the 1970s.

In recent years there have been two police incidents when Strictly has been in town. Spanish dancer Gorka Marquez lost two teeth in an alleged attack after recording the show in 2016 and thieves stole valuables from dressing rooms three years earlier.

A BBC spokesman said visiting Blackpool was the “absolute highlight” of the series.

Radebe apologised for his comments.

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