Dan Walker Defends Strictly Come Dancing's Nadiya Bychova Amid Rumours About This Year's Series

"It feels a bit like putting Messi on the bench for the World Cup final..."
Dan Walker and Nadiya Bychkova
Dan Walker and Nadiya Bychkova
Guy LevyBBC/Guy Levy

Dan Walker has jumped to the defence of his former Strictly Come Dancing partner Nadiya Bychkova amid reports she will not be competing in the main show this year.

The former BBC Breakfast host took part in Strictly in 2021, where – perhaps controversially – he and Nadiya made it all the way to the quarter-finals.

While the pairings for this year’s series are yet to be made public, The Mirror cited an undisclosed “source” who said the Ukrainian performer would not receive a celebrity partner in 2023, and was “both gutted and very, very angry” at the decision.

Shortly after the tabloid’s report was published, Dan spoke out in support of Nadiya on the social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter).

“All the pros are great but gutted that [Nadiya] hasn’t got a partner,” he wrote. “I’m sure she’s still looking forward to being part of the biggest show on TV but it feels a bit like putting Messi on the bench for the World Cup final!

She is so talented, the best teacher anyone could hope for, a top class lobster [and] she’s the Yorkshire Barmaid!”

However, Dan then shared the love for Strictly, hailing the show as “incredible” and praising the “amazing” behind-the-scenes team.

“I hope the celebs enjoy it,” he added. “We are all about the A Team… the two Angelas [Rippon and Scanlon], Amanda [Abbington], Adam [Thomas] and Annabel [Croft].”

Nadiya joined Strictly in 2017, and in that time has been paired with soap star Davood Ghadami, footballer David James and singers Matt Goss and Lee Ryan.

She previously went without a celebrity partner in 2020.

It’s yet to be confirmed whether Nadiya will receive a partner on the upcoming series of Strictly, but HuffPost UK has contacted the BBC for comment.

This year’s pairings will be unveiled during the pre-recorded launch show which airs on Saturday at 6.35pm on BBC One.


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