Layton Williams has said he is living his best life by “pushing the boundaries” on Strictly Come Dancing.
The West End and Bad Education star, 29, was asked about criticism from former Strictly professionals Brendan Cole and James Jordan over a pole-based routine on last week’s episode of the BBC One show at Blackpool Tower Ballroom.
Williams said: “I feel like we’ve always come out and kind of like done something potentially a little bit more out there pushing the boundaries… we’ve thrown in this and that… and there’s always an element of surprise.
“Why shouldn’t we be swinging from poles and living our best lives? It went down pretty (well) if you ask me so I’m really proud and I stand by it, it’s also a couple’s choice. Get into it.”
The dance to Ain’t No Other Man by Christina Aguilera with Nikita Kuzmin earned them a judges’ score of 39 out of a potential 40 points and was widely praised on the night.
Kuzmin said the dance had “nothing more to it” than swinging around a pole and dancing.
He added: “At the end of the day, we’re just two boys dancing together and we are having fun, we’re trying to bring a show, and well, if somebody doesn’t like this, it’s absolutely fine.”
Williams also said people referencing his background performing in the West End was “disrespectful” to Strictly’s professional dancers, who are “unbelievable” performers.
He explained that the hardest part of competing on the series has been “the noise and the chaos and the silly questions and the silly assumptions” that he has had to deal with.
Williams also said: “I think I’ve kind of learned to kind of just push that away, leave everything on the dancefloor knowing that like, I’ve put my heart and soul into this.
“I think sometimes because of the conversations, it’s like, ‘oh, yeah, well’ and (this is) my hard work, by the way, but I just really am grateful that, one, I got to have this opportunity and (two) I’ve got this guy to dance with because we literally… (have) the best time.”
Williams said there has been a “beautiful ripple effect” from people identifying with him on the show.
He added: “We get so many beautiful messages from like, teachers, parents, it’s really making the change, seeing somebody outwardly sometimes effeminate, sometimes not effeminate, sometimes more masculine and like, people have seen that going, ‘Oh, that’s a little bit like what I’m like’. It resonates.”
Strictly Come Dancing airs on weekends on BBC One.