Tearful Ashley: I don’t feel wanted on Strictly
IT HAS been a classic Strictly battle: the handsome housewives’ favourite versus the glamorous American accused of having an unfair advantage over her co-stars.
But while it might make good television, the competition between YouTube star Joe Sugg and Ashley Roberts has left the pop star in floods of tears, the MoS can reveal.
Ashley, who performed a paso doble and American smooth last night, has become convinced viewers of the hit BBC show have rejected her on the brink of the final, telling friends: ‘They don’t want me here.’
The singer, who found herself in the dance-off last week despite being second on the leaderboard, has suffered in the weekly vote, with observers saying her years of professional dance experience have turned the public against her.
The judges heaped praise on her quickstep routine with partner Pasha Kovalev last week and voted
‘BBC bosses knew all about her dance past’
to save her and instead send home Casualty actor Charles Venn.
‘Ashley feels she is not wanted on the show and it is terribly sad for her,’ said a source close to singer.
‘She is particularly upset because she wasn’t the one who went to the BBC, begging to be signed up for Strictly.
‘They approached her, knowing full well what she had done in the past. This has been so sad for Ashley. Imagine going to work when people don’t want you there.’
Friends of Ashley, 37, a member of US band the Pussycat Dolls in the 2000s, insist she is ‘working her butt off’ in training seven hours a day in a bid to survive this weekend’s semi-final and have a chance to lift the coveted glitterball trophy next week.
Meanwhile, Pasha is said to be distraught at the public attacks she has received, with viewers backing relative unknown Joe to win.
Ashley is not the only current Strictly contestant with professional dance experience. According to the CV of former Steps star Fay Tozer, she is trained in 12 types of dance, including Bollywood, tap, jazz, burlesque, folk and salsa.
Fay is also a fully trained choreographer, yet she has not suffered the same backlash.
Previous Strictly contestants have been criticised for having showbiz dance experience. Former S Club star Rachel Stevens and television presenter Caroline Flack, who trained at the Sylvia Young performing arts school, both faced claims of an unfair advantage.
Yet the public’s reaction to Ashley – who six years ago was runner up on ITV’s I’m A Celebrity – has been so harsh that host Tess Daly last week called on the public to ‘cut her some slack’, describing her as ‘an absolute sweetheart’.
YouTube vlogger Joe Sugg, 26, is currently the bookies’ favourite to lift the trophy. Joe is worth £3million and has more than eight million subscribers on YouTube. His partner is Dianne Buswell, with whom he is rumoured to be having a relationship.
Last week, Ashley described receiving a call in July from Strictly’s celebrity booker Stefania Aleksander, and being ‘so chuffed to be asked to take part’.
‘When I got asked to do Strictly, I remember my heart feeling like it was going to burst,’ she said. ‘I was so excited and so unbelievably grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing show.
‘I knew I was probably going to get some backlash, but this is a brand new skill for me.
‘The ballroom and Latin world is so different in how they carry their bodies, how they transfer their weight, whereas with hip hop and jazz you almost get to come up with the creative movement yourself.
‘Ballroom is very specific, so it’s very challenging. Strictly has given me the opportunity to learn so many new things, to challenge myself constantly, to keep showing up again and again, upping my game each week, and to be able to perform again is such a gift.’
Ashley had hoped Strictly would provide a happy ending to what has been a harrowing year. In March, her father Pat took his own life, aged 69, following a long battle with mental health issues. The call from Strictly came while she was still grieving and she accepted the invitation immediately.
‘This has been a very turbulent year for me, and being a part of Strictly has been healing on many levels,’ she explained.
‘I often find it hard to be vulnerable and share my highs and lows. I’ve always learned how to keep going, chin up and stay on my game.’
DRAMA ON THE DANCEFLOOR: Ashley and Pasha’s paso doble last night