Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood has dismissed reports of racism which have plagued the popular BBC One show, saying he does not believe the show's audience votes on the basis of skin colour.
The early exit of two black stars - radio DJ Melvin Odoom and EastEnders actress Tameka Empson - followed by BBC presenter Naga Munchetty's departure, sparked accusations that viewers have been racist.
Craig told the Radio Times that in the early stages of the show it is a "popularity contest".
He said: "The colour of someone's skin doesn't explain anything. Prove it and I might listen to what the tabloids have said about it.
"But I don't think the public vote on that basis, and as far as the judges are concerned, the better dancer is always the one that goes through."
The latest casualty of the show was Irish TV presenter Laura Whitmore, who was sent home after facing sports presenter Ore Oduba in the dance-off.
The judges unanimously opted to save Ore, with Craig commenting that his Salsa to Turn The Beat Around by Vicki Sue Robinson was the "dance of the night".
The judge also told the magazine: "Unfortunately in the first few weeks it's a popularity contest, as the public vote for those they know and like.
"As far as I'm concerned, popularity and how familiar a celebrity is to the viewers is all it comes down to at that stage."
The Sunday night episode of Strictly showing Laura's eviction was the highest peak viewing figure of the series so far as 11 million fans tuned in.
Read the full interview in this week's Radio Times.