BBC bosses defend decision to drop professional dancer Nadiya Bychkova

BBC bosses defend decision to drop professional dancer Nadiya Bychkova amid a backlash from her fans

She has built up a strong following since joining Strictly in 2017 and finished fifth when paired with Dan Walker two years ago.

So professional dancer Nadiya Bychkova might have expected a main role in this year’s competition, paired with a celebrity contestant.

But the 34-year-old Ukrainian was shocked to learn that BBC bosses had no such plan for her. She will not be paired with any of the 15 well-known names taking part and instead will be part of the general dance troupe.

Ms Bychkova held a series of discussions with the show’s most senior staff about the decision, which has infuriated her fans. Some even suggested that they might boycott the new series in support of Ms Bychkova, a ballroom and Latin world champion.

And former BBC star Walker, who now presents Channel 5 news, said on social media that leaving her out ‘feels like putting Messi on the bench for the World Cup final!’

Professional dancer Nadiya Bychkova (pictured) will not be paired with a celebrity star in this year’s Strictly series

Nadiyah finished fifth when she was paired with Dan Walker in 2021 

But BBC chiefs say there are many factors which determine whether a professional dancer is chosen to be given a celebrity partner or not, including height and how many years they have been on Strictly.

Corporation sources say that when this year’s stars and professionals met, there was no chemistry between Ms Bychkova and the male contestants.

One told the Mail: ‘Nadiya was very surprised when she learned she would merely be part of he wider dance troupe. She felt like she had done well since she joined the show, so it was a shock.

‘She wanted answers so she held several meetings with the bosses so she could get some answers. She is accepting it now.’

Ms Bychkova has won many fans over the past six years but has enjoyed mixed fortunes on the show. Last year she made it only as far as week three with ex-Bros singer Matt Goss.

A spokesman for the BBC declined to comment.

Strictly star Nadiya will be part of the general dance troupe in this year’s series. Pictured on September 7, 2023  

Nadiya poses in the press room at the National Television Awards 2023

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