Strictly Come Dancing viewers have called on Shirley Ballas to “choose her words more carefully” after praising deaf contestant Rose Ayling-Ellis for “blocking” out noise on the show.
The EastEnders star competed in Saturday (4 December) night’s semifinal, during which she and partner Giovanni Pernice performed an American Smooth to “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” by Natalie Cole.
The routine, which featured a lift never-before seen on the show, was widely praised by the judges, with Craig Revel Horwood calling it “absolutely gorgeous, wonderful storytelling”.
However, it was a comment made by Shirley Ballas that frustrated viewers, after the head judge compared the routine to the previous dance, Rhys Stephenson’s Argentine tango.
“Before Rhys went on before you, there was lots of noise, clapping. You came in, you blocked it out and you delivered a performance of a lifetime,” Ballas said.
One Twitter user wrote: “Did… did Shirley just congratulate Rose on blocking out the noise? Ya know - the only Deaf contestant on the show.”
“Shirley telling Rose that she managed to block out the noise and the clapping before she danced,” one viewer commented, with a gif of Judge Judy putting her head in her hands.
“But Shirley Rose is deaf noise wouldn’t bother her,” another wrote.
One tweet read: “Oh Shirley. The cringe when it dawns on her what she said to Rose.”
However, some viewers pointed out that Ayling-Ellis wears hearing aids and may be able to hear some noise in the studio.
Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video Sign up now for a 30-day free trialSign up
The actor received 39 points for her routine, putting her at the top of the leaderboard alongside Stephenson.
Strictly Come Dancing continues tonight at 7.20pm on BBC One.