Strictly in 'racism row' after Tameka is second celebrity to be voted off
Fans have rallied around Tameka Empson after she became the second contestant to get the boot from Strictly - while her departure also sparked a racism row.
The EastEnders actress, 39, is off the show following a dance-off with TV presenter Laura Whitmore, 31.
Empson danced while hurt - and after singer Anastacia, 48, was allowed to pull out of last week's dance-off because of a serious injury.
The exit of two black stars - radio DJ Melvin Odoom, 36, left the BBC1 show after receiving the fewest public votes last week - has sparked accusations that viewers have been racist.
But a BBC source said that the broadcaster was not to blame for the way in which people voted.
"If there is an issue to explore, it lies with the audience not voting for her, which we have no control over," the insider said.
Empson was in the middle of the leaderboard but faced the dance-off after her score was combined with viewers' votes.
The judges were left to make the final decision, with Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli and Len Goodman opting to keep Whitmore, while Darcey Bussell voted in Empson's favour.
Empson, who wore a knee brace and was deemed able to take part in the Dance Off, said afterwards: "I did have injuries ... but I didn't really want to focus on that.
"It was always going to be tough in the whole competition but I'm really gutted that I'm leaving."
Her dance partner, Gorka Marquez, accepted the judges' decision to save Whitmore.
"Sad to leave, but is part of the game. Tameka Empson so proud of you! Congrats to Laura Whitmore ...Thanks to everyone!!," he tweeted.
But TV star Miranda Hart was not so happy:
"Genuinely confused why Tameka Empson was voted off Strictly," she wrote.
"She was one of my highlights and why I was watching. So funny. And good."
Presenter Gabby Logan was also unimpressed, retweeting Miranda's message with a thumbs down logo.
Professional dancer Kevin Clifton, who is partnered with Louise Redknapp, said that he was "gutted to see Tameka Empson and Gorka Marquez leave ... Loved their partnership".
Former professional dancer Robin Windsor was annoyed:
"Not happy with tonight's BBC Strictly result!!!! I loved her!!!!! Tameka Empson."
Some viewers wondered whether Empson had accidentally let slip the result before it was broadcast, when she tweeted: "Morning! Thank you to those for vote for Gorka Marquez and I. We had a great time. Yes, I've been Tangoed, but tune in Sunday Brunch now..."
After a fan complained that her tweet has just ruined the surprise, the actress said that by "tangoed", she meant "tangoed as in tired and getting up early to do the Sunday Brunch Show".
The decision left some fans alleging that viewers had been racist.
David Barber wrote on Twitter: "Strictly voters at home show their racist leanings again. Two shows. Two black dancers eliminated."
Matt Greer wrote: "Nothing shows how racist the UK is quite like Strictly."
But Emzie Langan wrote: "Those who think Strictly is racist because two black celebs have gone need to have a serious word with themselves. Idiots."
And Robert Weaver added: "Is there a racist element to public vote on Strictly? We'll know for sure if Ore (Oduba) goes next week."