Strictly’s Mike Bushell has been sent a chilling death threat warning him to quit the dance competition or be a ‘dead man’.
The threat ordering him to pull out of the contest before this Saturday’s show has left the BBC star and wife, Emily, shocked.
It was tweeted just hours after judge Shirley Ballas saved the BBC sports presenter over ex-Coronation Street Catherine Tyldesley in Saturday’s dance-off.
Speaking at the Daily Mirror’s Pride of Britain Awards, Mike, said: “It said that unless I withdraw from the competition now I’m a dead man.
“It was personal and I thought WTF. There are bigger things in the world to worry about.
“I get that people have their own favourite dancers but it’s an entertainment show at the end of the day and to get a death threat is ridiculous.
“My wife saw it first and when I went to see who had sent it, they had already removed the tweet. A death threat? What?! On Strictly?
“You rise above it but it’s people being cowardly isn’t it?
“The show is meant to be happy, make people feel happy.”
Mike revealed details about the threat hours after wife Emily urged Strictly fans to lay off her husband after he was bombarded with online “abuse” for staying in the dancing competition.
Emily, who only married Mike this year, said the comments had been “painful”.
BBC bosses have been made aware of Mike’s death threat and have supported him and his family and the defiant BBC sports presenter has vowed not to let it stop his incredible journey.
Mike, 53, added: “We haven’t reported it to police because the tweet had already gone. The BBC have been great, really supportive.
“There were others saying ‘f*** off, you’ve got to pull out of the competition’, but you don’t quit.
“I’m fine. As you get older you get thick skinned. I’ll just come out fighting harder this week.
“I totally have time for people that say the judges made the wrong decision. Everyone has their own opinion don’t they?
“If two of the judges wanted Catherine to stay I can’t have a problem with that. They were so slick but what I haven’t liked is the abuse.
“Every week is a bonus. I was favourite to go out in week one and I’m still here which is a bit crazy.”
Mike revealed that he has had support over his online abuse from his fellow co-stars including injured paralympian Will Bayley who was forced to withdraw from last Saturday’s show after a knee injury.
“I’m a big mate of Wills and he sent me a message about the online abuse supporting me.
“He was really upset about it. I said ‘thanks mate, I’ll just rise above it’. I said we were praying and hoping everything is alright for the weekend but I heard nothing back.”
Craig Revel Horwood defended Sunday night’s result saying the judges have to make a decision based on the dance-off and not previous performances.
He opted for Bushell and Katya Jones as he thought they “really stepped it up a notch”, while Motsi Mabuse and Bruno Tonioli chose Tyldesley.
Head judge Shirley Ballas, who has also been bombarded with death threats, had the deciding vote and chose Bushell.
Mike revealed that after Catherine was booted off on Saturday the pair exchanged messages.
“She sent me a lovely message and I sent her one,” he said.
“Catherine said ‘you’re a fighter, well done, congratulations’ and I said I was sorry to see her go and that she was one of the better dancers.”
Mike revealed the secret to him staying in the competition explaining: “All I could do was do the best dance-off I could so if I was going home, I could go home with my head held high because that’s what I wanted to do, make Katya please and if that’s enough then it’s in the hands of the judges.
“Psychologically, I was more relaxed for the dance off. I listened to what the judges had said and tried to put that into practice and Katya said it was 50 times better and so I was quite pleased with that.
“Afterwards I said to Katya ‘we can’t do anything more now’. I thought if I go home tonight then I go home as a rabbit and go back down the hole. It’s sort of an apt ending.
“When you get to the dance off you don’t like to send anybody home but it’s out of your hands, it’s down to the judges.
“The standard is crazy this year. I’m one of the oldest non-dancers, but you can’t compete with the likes of some of the better dancers so you just compete against yourself and if that keeps you in then so be it. If it’s not then you’ve had a most amazing experience. To get to Week 7…I never thought I’d do that.
“Everyone that goes out is disappointed. I’ve been told I dance like a three-year-old, I’m an overwound tin toy…I love the comments, I think they’re funny. I’m collecting all the quotes actually and I’m going to put them around my house when it’s finished.
“What was the nice with the weekend just gone was they recognised my good footwork. When Shirley was giving her casting vote, she was talking about technique and footwork and I thought she must be talking about Catherine and I was preparing my speech to saying ‘thanks everybody, I’ve had a great time. I go out as a rabbit.
“But then people have told me it’s all about the dance off. I did a better dance-off than the main one. I can’t compare it to Catherine, because you can’t. I thought she did brilliantly.”
The Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Awards, in partnership with TSB, will broadcast on ITV on 5th November at 8pm