The surprising elimination of actress Tameka Empson from ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ over the weekend has triggered accusations from some quarters that the BBC show is racist, after two black contestants were voted off the show in consecutive weeks.

39 year old ‘EastEnders’ star Empson left ‘Strictly’ after losing the dance-off against TV presenter Laura Whitmore on Sunday night (October 9th). In doing so, she became the second of three black contestants on the show to be eliminated out of a pool of 15 starters, in only the second week where the public was given a vote.

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Empson found herself in the bottom two of the public vote on Sunday, despite having scored a respectable 28 points for her tango the night before – normally easily enough for a contestant to consider themselves safe. Incredibly, former Labour MP Ed Balls survived into the third week, despite being roundly regarded as the traditonal 'no-hoper'.

However, she and Whitmore had to perform their routines in front of the panel of four judges and, with the exception of Darcey Bussell, they all chose to progress Whitmore at her expense.

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“Is there a racist element to public vote on #Strictly? We'll know for sure if Ore [Oduba] goes next week,” wrote one viewer on Twitter in the aftermath. Another wrote: “Melvin [Odoom] went out last week and now Tameka this week, I'm starting to think half the people on this show are just plain racist #Strictly.”

The weekend before, Kiss FM DJ Odoom had departed the show in unusual circumstances, on the basis of the public vote alone because his would-be dance-off rival Anastacia had injured herself while dancing earlier on in the weekend. With the lowest share of the public vote, he was eliminated automatically.

A BBC spokeswoman said that it was down to the public vote about who was offered up to the judges for a dance-off. “Judges judge the dancing and the dancing alone, not anything else,” a statement on Monday read.

“It has been brief. I’ve enjoyed my time immensely. You guys watch it at home but it’s really lovely to be a part of it. Thank you,” Empson said after she lost the dance-off, before paying tribute to her professional dance partner Gorka Marquez. “He is a great asset to the show. You have showed me so much passion and motivation. I love you. You are a great dancer.”

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