Strictly Come Dancing judge Dame Darcey Bussell sticks up for 'natural performers' like Faye Tozer

Faye Tozer and dance partner Giovanni Pernice
Faye Tozer and dance partner Giovanni Pernice

Dame Darcey Bussell has said she feels relieved that there are celebrities like Faye Tozer with experience competing on Strictly Come Dancing.

The BBC One show has sparked controversy with its line-up, with Steps star Faye, from West Boldon, and Pussycat Dolls singer Ashley Roberts having notched up previous dance experience.

"For me, as a judge, thank goodness there are people that have some tiny bit of dance experience," the judge told BBC Breakfast.

But she admitted: "If there are mistakes ... they can hide their mistakes because they are natural performers and they have been under that pressure. A lot of people have never been under the lights and razzmatazz."

The former prima ballerina said: "All actors have been to stage school. They will have all done some taster of dance in their lives..

"If they've had a flavour of dance I'm really happy about that. I think everybody should have the opportunity to have an experience in dance...

"For me, it's great that somebody has had an experience of dance and come on that show."

She added: "Whether they're are going to be better than the others, you can't tell. You never know."

And she said that "the techniques" involved in ballroom and contemporary dance "are so different".

When "you're so trained in one style, it's incredibly difficult to suddenly change", she said.

She said Casualty actor Charles Venn could win the show, adding: "When you see somebody on a journey, that's what changes it for everybody."

Faye and dance partner Giovanni Pernice produced a stunning pasodoble on Saturday night for Blackpool week, and recorded another massive points total of 38 to put themselves clear of trouble as Kate Silverton became the latest celebrity to be booted off the contest.

The newsreader and dance partner Aljaz Skorjanec faced former cricketer Graeme Swann and Oti Mabuse in the dance-off after their scores combined with the public vote put them in last place.

Silverton and Skorjanec performed their American smooth to Everlasting Love by Love Affair again, while Swann and Mabuse repeated their theatre and jazz routine to The Trolley Song from the film Meet Me In St Louis.

The judges unanimously chose to save Swann and Mabuse, leaving Silverton and Skorjanec to waltz away from the dancefloor.