Strictly’s Layton Williams defends place on show: ‘I deserve to be here’

Strictly Come Dancing's Layton Williams (left) and partner Nikita Kuzmin (right) during Halloween week

Strictly Come Dancing star Layton Williams has hit back against ongoing accusations that he has too much dance experience to be a contestant on the hit BBC reality competition.

The 29-year-old gay actor – best known for his roles in West End’s Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and BBC series Bad Education – has wowed judges with his jaw-dropping performances opposite pro-partner Nikita Kuzmin, setting multiple records on the show.

However, since the popular reality series returned in mid-September, the musical theatre star has had to battle criticism that he is over-qualified to perform alongside amateur celebrities.

Layton first addressed the controversy in August, telling disgruntled fans: “Lemme clear up this *fact* real quick. I had my 1st introduction to Ballroom & Latin class in rehearsals yesterday (along with the rest of the @bbcstrictly cast) and it was so much fun.”

Layton Williams performing during Strictly Come Dancing's Halloween week.
Layton Williams performing during Strictly Come Dancing’s Halloween week. (BBC/Guy Levy)

However, as some fans continue to voice discontent over Layton’s stunning routines, the actor has once again been forced to defend his place in the competition.

“Anybody who ever saw me in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie knows I didn’t do a Salsa or Tango there on stage,” he told Manchester Evening News in the lead up to his Halloween-themed dance on Saturday (28 October) evening.

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“I hope that by watching the show, people can see that I am not perfect and that I have so much to learn. When I first started, I didn’t even realise that Latin and ballroom were two different things.

Layton Williams says he's 'not perfect' after criticism.
Layton Williams says he’s ‘not perfect’ after criticism. (BBC/Ray Burmiston)

“I feel that everyone on the show is being critiqued within their own ability and I don’t think I am taking up anyone else’s space by being here.”

He added: “Quite frankly, I was asked to be on this show just like everyone else so I deserve to be here and I am working just as hard as everyone else.”

Layton and Nikita danced the Tango to “Vampire” by Olivia Rodrigo on Saturday night, landing in second place on the leader board with a judges’ score of 36.

As Layton continues to smash it on the dance floor (last week he scored the highest score, 39, for Samba in week five in 13 years) the Strictly line up has also seen a few losses.

Sherlock star Amanda Abbington was forced to leave the competition due to medical concerns. The actor’s inclusion in the original line up was met with controversy given their track record of controversial comments towards the trans community.

Strictly Come Dancing continues on Saturday 4 November on BBC One.

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