Strictly star Richie Anderson sends message to hateful trolls ahead of same-sex pairing reveal

A BBC promotional image of Radio 2 DJ Richie Anderson

Strictly 2022 contestant Richie Anderson has a message for online trolls ahead of his debut on the show.

Anderson will form one-half of Strictly’s third same-sex pairing, after Nicola Adams and Katya Jones (2020) and John Whaite and Johannes Radebe (2021).

Ahead of this year’s launch show on Friday (23 September), in which he’ll meet his partner for the first time, he said that the response to his casting has been overwhelmingly positive, but that he has experienced trolling.

“We often focus on the trolls a lot, but on my Instagram… there’s a lot of love, and more people are positive than negative, he told HuffPost UK.

“If somebody wants to take 10 seconds of their day to say something arsey to me online, then that’s more on them than me. I’m not going to stop doing what I’m doing.”

He added: “I don’t pay much attention to trolls online. At the end of the day, I’m doing something that I’ve always wanted to do and enjoying myself.”

Anderson is an ex-Sunday league footballer who went viral in 2018 when he came out as gay to his teammates during a documentary about homophobia in sport.

He previously told the BBC that being on the show in a same-sex pairing is a “massive honour”.

He said: “I’m going to have to cancel my legendary Strictly launch night kitchen party that I throw every year, I’m sure my friends and family will understand!”

John Whaite opened up on Instagram about being hit with “vicious” trolls during his own run on Strictly, with both he and his dance partner Johannes Radebe choosing to step back from social media due to hateful messages.

Whaite wrote to trolls: “You vicious, empty people are a dying breed.

“You’ll be left behind as the world becomes kinder, more empathic, more loving, more tolerant, more understanding.

“The only grievance you should feel is your own failure to evolve.”

Anderson, however, added that the “representation” Whaite and Radebe brought to television with their run means more to him than trolling does, recalling his own experience as a gay teenager.

“Watching John and Johannes last year, and Nicola and Katya the year before, they were majestic and I wish, for me, as a gay teenager growing up that I would have had that representation on television,” he said. 

“I wish when I was growing up I could have switched on primetime television on a Saturday night and seen two men dancing together.”

Anderson added: “John and Johannes and Nicola and Katya are one of the reasons I’m doing it this year, I’m so inspired by them.”

Strictly Come Dancing will return to BBC One on Friday (23 September) at 7pm.