Inside the OTHER Strictly curse as Layton Williams becomes latest victim… it’s even led raging fans to boycott the show | The Sun

MANY unwitting celebs have fallen prey to the infamous 'Strictly curse', with the show putting even the strongest relationships to the test.

But there's another hex that plagues contestants year after year, putting them at a disadvantage in the competition – and this series is no exception.

West End star Layton Williams has hit back at 'fix claims' after some viewers complained his musical theatre background has given him an unfair advantage.

The 29-year-old, who is paired with Nikita Kuzmin, was forced to defend himself after ex-judge Arlene Phillips and former pros James Jordan and Brendan Cole waded in on the debate, claiming it was unfair to have professional dancers compete on the show.

Meanwhile his fellow stars are said to be "frustrated" about having to compete against Layton, who has scored a series of high marks including a perfect 10.

A source told the Mail on Sunday it "goes against the spirit of the show" to have someone of his calibre, adding: "He is as good or even better than his professional partner.



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"There is such an uneven playing field here that it is impossible for any of the other contestants to have a chance of winning, even if the viewers do enjoy watching a celebrity's journey."

But his past experience has set him a high bar when it comes to the judges' comments, with Shirley Ballas being booed by the studio audience last Saturday after criticising Layton's footwork in the Tango.

And judging by how previous contestants with extensive dance experience have fared, it's not likely to do him any favours in the long run.

Here we take a look at how the lesser-known Strictly curse hits celeb 'pros' – and why it's even led some fans to threaten a boycott of the show.

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Ashley Roberts

Ashley Roberts made the dance-off even when she received a perfect scoreCredit: PA:Press Association

Back in 2018 Pussycat Doll Ashley, who was paired with Pasha Kovalev, was gutted to end up in the dance-off three times – on one occasion after she received a perfect score of 40.

Although she was saved by the judges and did make it to the final, former pro James Jordan said he sympathised with her because she had "no hope of winning".

He said at the time: “She’s had so much stick and Strictly allowed that to happen. 

“There are other people in the show this year and previous years who’ve had just as much experience in dance.

“I feel so sorry for Ashley. She’s had a really hard time. She’s trying hard if not harder than everyone is. I’m a professional dancer and what she’s doing is outstanding – regardless of whether she’s trained or not.”

Aston Merrygold

JLS singer Aston put in a stonking display on Strictly, quickly taking to ballroom and Latin, arguably helped by his pop star past.

But he suffered a shock exit in week seven – having ended up in the bottom two despite the likes of Jonnie Peacock, Susan Calman and Ruth Langsford making it through.

After going up against Saturdays star Mollie King in the dance-off, head judge Shirley decided to save Mollie, sparking outrage among viewers.

Some even threatened to boycott the show afterwards, while many blamed Craig for giving Aston a shockingly low score of 4.

Aston didn't let it hamper his love of dancing, and he went on to win the 2018 Strictly Christmas special.

He even toured a dance show with fellow Strictly champions Louis Smith and Harry Judd.

Fleur East

In 2020 former X Factor star Fleur ended up in the dance-off three times, despite receiving consistently impressive scores.

But judges often gave her harsh criticism despite her musical background – after the first live show Fleur was visibly shocked by some of their negative comments.

Craig called her Cha Cha Cha “too wild” while Shirley said: "I'm not disputing you're powerful, you give it 'wham, bam, boom, go', it is fantastic and I'm not taking any of that away but you do need some contrast and you do have to be able to stand on your legs and feet."

Fleur addressed the "tough love" she received, claiming the judges' "constructive criticism… made me the dancer that I am now".

In week three she was in the bottom two after scoring 29 – higher than eight other contestants.

After the second time viewers posted furious messages online, with one tweeting: “Fleur being in the bottom two for the second time this series so far is a complete joke.”

Fleur made it to the final, where she received the highest score from the judges of all the contestants, but she failed to win the Glitterball.

Molly Rainford

Like Fleur, Molly also suffered from the fact she was a singer and had been to acting school, where she studied dance. 

She faced the dance off four times, including in week five when her fellow contestants Tony Adams, Will Mellor, Kym Marsh, Ellie Taylor and James Bye scored less.

After the third time one viewer tweeted: "How is Molly in the bottom? She danced her a** off!"

During Halloween week she received a standing ovation from Shirley for her Argentine Tango, but was left in tears by Craig who branded her performance "really, really ugly", while Anton claimed it “lacked intensity".

Kimberley Walsh

The former Girls Aloud star – who is now a leading lady in the West End – took part on Strictly in 2012.

But despite her high scores from the judges, she found herself in the dance-off in week six, but survived against Fern Britton and Artem Chigvintsev.

Kimberley also made it to the final, where she scored higher than the eventual winner, gymnast Louis Smith.

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Craig said at the time: "The public hate her. Kimberley needs to go out on the street and start canvassing for votes.

"It's not the judges that hate her, it's the public, it seems. You have to win the public vote to win Strictly. The judges only have 50 per cent of the vote.”

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