ashley-and-pasha

Former Strictly star defends Ashley Roberts

It's a tense week as we head towards the final

Hollie Richardson

The Strictly Come Dancing final is very nearly upon us, and finalist Ashley Roberts is still finding herself faced with criticism for signing up to the show in the first place, because she already had extensive dancing experience from her time with the Pussycat Dolls. Now, former Strictly judge Arlene Phillips has come to the star's defence, after fans continue to say Ashley's has an 'unfair advantage'. Speaking to Phillip Schofield and Rochelle Humes on This Morning on Tuesday, Arlene said: "No Strictly didn't get it wrong. Strictly has always had trained dancers on the show." She continued: "The thing with Ashley is, because the Pussycat Dolls were a dance pop group, people know her as a dancer. But, the truth is, when she came here, she didn't do any dancing. We just saw her as Ashley Roberts the celebrity. It's very, very different... Dancers who have done different genres are not trained in that fine light detail. Ashley just happens to be an exquisite dancer."

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Arlene Phillips on This Morning

Addressing the unkind messages toward Ashley on social media, Arlene also added: "It's been unkind. She isn't any better than many of the dancers. No one slammed Jay McGuiness. How often have the public rallied against — or the judges — who is comedic staying in?" The comments came after Ashley found herself in the bottom two with dance partner Pasha Kovalev for the third week running in last Sunday's semi-final show.

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WATCH: Ashley Roberts shares dream of Strictly final

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In a defiant social media post after the show, the American star wrote: "What a weekend. From four 10's to having to do the dance off for the third time in a row. I have definitely gotten to experience the whole spectrum of the Strictly adventure. And I'm grateful for it all!" She added: "I remember when I first started I had to call my mum (she's a huge fan of the show) to ask her what style was ballroom and which was Latin! And now I can say I sort of enjoy a ballroom hold and a little cha cha of the hips. To those on social media sending positive messages of love and support… thank you! Your messages helped give me a boost when I needed it." Heaping praise on her dancer partner Pasha, she concluded: "Now it's final time! Can't believe it! We did it @pashakovalev you're the best."

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