The 79-year-old narrowly swerved elimination during the latest results show, when the judges chose to send Emmerdale star Adam Thomas home after a tense dance-off, with several viewers suggesting Rippon’s age and past connection to the hit BBC series may have been a factor in their decision.
Rippon, who made history as the show’s oldest participant when this year’s lineup was revealed, began her journalism career at the broadcaster and was also one of the presenters of Come Dancing – the BBC One series that was eventually revived as Strictly in 2004.
A source close to the production denied these “conspiracy theories” in a statement to The Independent, adding that judges Shirley Ballas, Anton du Beke, Motsi Mabuse and Craig Revel-Horwood are “hugely experienced individuals who judge on dance and dance alone”.
However, it wasn’t long before fans began wondering whether Rippon’s dances were being “strategically picked” to ensure she isn’t eliminated before the show travels to Blackpool. On Tuesday, it was revealed that she and partner Kai Widdrington will perform the Paso Doble for this week’s live show on Saturday (11 November).
The latest announcement has stirred the fan theory that Rippon is being assigned ballroom dance routines – as opposed to quicker-paced forms such as the Salsa or Jive – to ensure she isn’t voted off before this year’s contestants take the stage at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, also known as “the home of ballroom dancing”.
“Is that another ballroom I see for Angela Rippon....? About time she does a Latin, surely? Feel her dances are being strategically picked,” one fan commented on Instragram,
Another person wrote: “Angela Rippon needs a fast upbeat dance, she keeps getting slow ballroom dances and it’s defo starting to feel like they are being picked on purpose.”
“Wonder when they’re going to give angela the samba or jive??” a third comment read, while a fourth person accused the makers of “blatant favouritism”. However, Rippon’s fans defended the legendary newsreader, with several viewers expressing their excitement over Rippon’s forthcoming performance.
The Independent has contacted the BBC for comment.
Last month, Rippon responded to critics who suggested she was only being given “slow dances” during an appearance on Good Morning Britain.
“Well, we did the Quickstep. I mean, there’s a clue in the title,” Rippon said, adding: “And we did the very first dance which was the Cha Cha Cha.”
During week one of the hit BBC series, the former newsreader impressed judges and viewers alike after the Rip-Off Britain host pulled off a standing split high kick during the routine, with her leg extended all the way up to her head.
Her performance earned a standing ovation from the judges, with the typically strict Horwood remarking: “That was jaw-dropping darling,”
However, after a strong start, fans pointed out that Rippon was being assigned slower ballroom styles such as the Rumba and Argentine Tango as the weeks progressed, with several viewers shocked by the judges’ most recent decision to eliminate Thomas in “the closest dance-off we’ve had in the series so far”.
At the end of last week’s live show, Rippon was placed seventh on the leaderboard with a total of 28 points.
New episodes of the dance competition air every Saturday and Sunday.