Strictly’s Mike Bushell has hit back at online trolls who have demanded he quits the show after ending up in the dance off three times – branding them “ridiculous”.
This week’s messages follow a death threat last week, which the BBC sports presenter chose to ignore.
Now chirpy Bushell has pledged to give tomorrow’s paso doble his best effort after impressing the judges with his Charleston last week.
And if he does get voted off he’ll still be going to Blackpool next week – because his wife booked their hotel weeks ago.
The 53-year-old’s death threat came on Twitter after he put Catherine Tyldesley out of the competition two weeks ago.
“I tried to report it but they deleted the tweet and deleted the account. Often you go onto these accounts and they’ve only got two followers. It’s just someone having a dig. I never for a millisecond took it seriously. No way.
“Now there’s been a few saying they’re not going to watch unless I resign but we don’t take any of that seriously. It’s ridiculous! It’s a fun show, we trust the judges. They’re the experts. All you can do is concentrate on your own dance, do your best and cheer everyone else on.
“When they’re saying ‘resign now’ when you’ve been trying all week. It’s just daft.”
He added: “You rise above the trolls. It’s supposed to be a happy show.
“We’ve loved every step of it and every week’s a bonus. If you put the hours in – we’re working from 8am till 10pm – and try and learn all the steps then whatever happens, happens. If you go out, you do it with your held held high. If you go through to another week it’s a complete bonus.”
The dad of three, partnered with Katya Jones, admitted he can’t quite believe he’s still in the competition. “I really didn’t expect to get this far. But I’m loving every minute! Physically I’ve lost a stone and a half.”
Mike said he’s received far more messages of support than negative ones, and has been encouraged by external comments from the likes of Ola and James Jordan in support of the Strictly judges’ decision to keep him.
And he said that further remarks this week that he was being kept in because he works for the BBC were “ridiculous”.
“There have been other BBC presenters in who have already gone out – like James Cracknell, Dev Griffin and Anneka Rice. I’m on unpaid leave from Breakfast at the moment, that’s how it works.”
Bushell, who has three daughters Lucy, 22, Izzy, 20, and 16-year-old Sophie from his first marriage, says he had long known that his place on the show is precarious.
“I was favourite to go out first week so each week I prepare for the dance off as soon as the Saturday show is over. I want to be ready in case.”
One way or another, he’ll be in Blackpool next weekend.
“I never expected to get this far so Emily and I said – let’s go anyway! So she booked us a hotel about six weeks ago and we’ve still got that booked, never thinking that I’d get anywhere near, just that we could go and support everyone else.
“If I got there on merit, because of the dancing this week – and I deserved it – then of course, it would be an amazing bonus to get to Blackpool.
Beyond my wildest dreams. But it’s like if you’re a football club from the lower reaches of the first division and you’re through to the semi finals of the FACup, the last thing you want to do is think about getting to Wembley when you’ve still got to play a match.”
First he needs to get past this week’s sombre paso doble, in which he dances on his own for the first 15 seconds. “Bouncy, happy, smiley Mike needs to go. I’m going to be very serious. When I come down the steps I usually smile and wave but this week I’m going to be in the zone and just have the matador stare on.
“I’ve got to look like I own the dance floor – it’s a long way from the Charleston where I could play the joker.”
And his message to any potential trolls this weekend?
“I think it’s brilliant that people vote and they have opinions – that’s what it’s all about but don’t make it personal and don’t make it vile and abusive. This is a fun show that brings happiness to people so let’s keep it that way.”
Strictly Come Dancing airs Saturday night on BBC1, 6.50pm.