Strictly's New Signing Amanda Abbington Responds To Backlash From Viewers Over Past Tweets

The Sherlock actor has insisted she's an "ally of the LGBT community" after her past comments about trans women and drag performers resurfaced.
Amanda Abbington
Amanda Abbington
David M. Benett via Getty Images

Strictly Come Dancing newcomer Amanda Abbington has spoken out amid the backlash she has received since it was confirmed that she will be taking part in this year’s series.

Amanda was the first celebrity unveiled for Strictly 2023 on Friday evening, with many voicing their disappointment due to past comments the former Sherlock actor has made online.

In particular, these have included remarks about the transgender community, as well as comments about a sensory class for babies and toddlers that featured cabaret performances from drag acts.

Earlier this year, Amanda tweeted that she felt this act was “not for babies”, and that there is “something fundamentally wrong with” those who disagreed.

“I lost quite a few followers for saying that a semi-naked man in thigh-high boots dancing in a highly sexualised way shouldn’t be performing in front of babies and it tells me everything I need to know about where society is heading,” Amanda – who has now deleted her Twitter account – added in a follow-up tweet.

Three years earlier, Amanda issued a public apology to the transgender community after writing on Facebook that “you cannot have a penis and want to be referred to as a woman”, stating her remark was “ill-informed and incredibly hurtful”.

On Sunday evening, the Mr Selfridge performer shared a seven-minute video on Instagram speaking directly about the controversy, which has reportedly led many regular viewers to state they’d be boycotting this year’s series.

“Apparently I’m trending because people are going to boycott Strictly,” she began. “I think it’s because of a tweet I made back in March, regarding a drag show.

“Now, I need to make this very clear. I love drag, I think it’s an amazing form of entertainment and I fucking love drag queens, I think they’re hilarious and brilliant, and it’s an artform. And I think there’s absolutely a place for it in the entertainment industry.”

Amanda claimed that her previous comments about drag had referenced a 12-year-old performing in what she described as an “overtly sexual” and “very over-sexualised” way in front of an adult crowd.

She said: “It just upset me because I saw a kid, a little kid, a 12-year-old, doing something very over-sexualised and I didn’t think it was right, personally speaking. I don’t think 12-year-olds should be performing in drag shows in overtly sexual ways, because they’re 12 and they need a childhood.

“It’s nice for kids to have a childhood and grow up and find that out when they’re old enough to really understand it. And that was my tweet.”

Amanda insisted: “I didn’t associate it with the trans community, nor would I associate that with the trans community, because I think they’re two separate things.”

The actor went on to say she “always has been” a supporter of what she referred to as the “legitimate trans community”, but added that she felt they “have been infiltrated by some people who want to cause damage and want to cause trouble, and pit people off of each other and cause as much harm as possible”.

“But I would support any trans person who is feeling persecuted or not listened to or not seen,” she continued. “Of course I would.

“I’m not a nasty person, I’m really not. Anyone who knows me knows that I’d give you my last tenner if you needed it, I’m not a hateful person, and I support the trans community. I also support women’s rights and I support the importance of women within society. And I think those two are being really pitted against each other, and what we need to do now more than ever is just make sure that everybody is looking after each other.

“It’s fucking toxic out there, it’s a horrible place if you let it be. I don’t want everyone to be at each other’s throats. I never wanted that. And I do believe that we need to look after kids, and we need to look after women, and we need to look after legitimate trans people who are finding it really difficult at the moment. And I’ve wanted that for years.”

Amanda at the premiere of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One earlier this year
Amanda at the premiere of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One earlier this year
Stuart C. Wilson via Getty Images

Amanda then alluded to a “stupid comment” she’d made “a few years ago”, telling her followers: “I was ill-informed and it was a stupid thing to write, and I instantly regretted it, and I apologised, and I did my research and I’m much more informed now.

“But the idea that I would go after a community that are very sensitive… and go after the legitimate trans community is not great. I think everybody needs to look after each other a bit more, and not go after each other in a negative and horrible way.

“It’s so toxic out there. And I’ve said stupid things, of course I have. And instantly regretted them. Everybody is learning and we need to take a breath, and take a beat, and look after each other.”

“So I’m sorry if you feel like you need to boycott Strictly for a tweet I made about a drag show,” she added with a laugh. “But I don’t think 12-year-olds should be doing overly sexualised drag acts. That’s my personal opinion. That’s all. I’m not pushing it at anyone else, I’m just saying that’s how I feel. It upsets me when I see kids feeling like they have to do that at all.

“But I didn’t associate it with the trans community. Nor would I. I’m an ally of the LGBT community. And I’m an ally of women’s rights, and an ally of kids being kids, and an ally of just live and let live and making sure we all look after each other and hold each other up.”

Amanda then clarified the reason she’d been banned from Twitter on multiple occasions, stating this was because she specifically called out “trophy hunters”, saying: “If I went back on Twitter and posted anything about trophy hunters and got banned, I’d be really pleased about it, because I think that’s important.

“Like I say, I think we all need to look after each other a bit more. I’ve said stupid things in the past. Everybody does stupid things. It’s what you do after that’s important. And how you address them.

“I’m not transphobic, and I love women. I think there’s a place for everybody as long as we are aware of each other and look after each other and make sure that we don’t go for each other in a hateful way.”

The BBC had nothing to add when contacted by HuffPost UK. We have also contacted Amanda Abbington's agent for additional comment

Amanda is one of five celebrities who’ve been confirmed for the new series of Strictly Come Dancing so far.

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