Strictly's AJ Pritchard says Lauren Steadman deserves to be in the show's final because she's not had professional dance training

Many of the contestants have come under fire this year after it was revealed they had professional dancing experience, including Ashley Roberts and Faye Tozer.

Lauren, 25, however is a world champion Paralympic athlete and had no experience of dance before joining the hit BBC show.

Speaking exclusively to The Sun Online ahead of tomorrow’s semi-final, AJ, 24, explained: “We might not be at the top of the leaderboard because of what Lauren’s experience is but I feel that we connect with the audience.

“And I hope we’re at the top of the leaderboard in the public’s eyes.

“Lauren’s had her moments, she’s been at the bottom of the leaderboard for two weeks, and she’ll tell me she thinks no one wants to see her dance again.

“But just because you’re at the bottom of the leaderboard, it’s about the people at home that are supporting you! It’s trying to use the positives the show brings, life is too short. We have to look at that.

“Lauren is a world champion athlete! She’s not a dancer. But she’s worked so hard and she’s proved she’s worthy of a place in that final.”

At the end of last week’s show, which saw Ashley saved after ending up in the dance off again, viewers threatened to boycott the show.

Tess Daly hit back in her defence however and admitted she wanted the public to give the former Pussycat Dolls star a break.

The Strictly host told The Metro: I actually feel sorry for Ashley because she was in tears on Sunday night, when she was in the bottom two

“She’s got dance experience in a pop band, but she hasn’t necessarily danced in ballroom before, it’s a different genre and I’m sure she’s never done the Viennese waltz in her career with the Pussycat Dolls.

“I think cut her a little slack, she’s an absolute sweetheart and doesn’t deserve that!”

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