Aston Merrygold has said Strictly Come Dancing’s judges were too harsh on him as he prepares to return to the show as a contestant on its Christmas special.
The former JLS star, who was the sixth celebrity to exit last year’s series, said he held no bad blood for head judge Shirley Ballas, whose deciding vote saw him booted off the show.
The pop vocalist, 30, added that he felt Craig Revel Horwood had been “inconsistent”, attacking the judge’s score of four for his final dance, a Viennese waltz, as unjustifiable.
He said: “I’ve seen [Ballas] since. She hasn’t said anything about it. Listen, that’s her vote. If you step back from it and look at it, she does get the deciding vote.
“I don’t blame her at the end of the day. In her opinion, she was like: ‘I’m voting for Mollie [King] and AJ [Pritchard]’. That’s fine. Bruno [Tonioli] and Darcey [Bussell] voted for me, Craig voted for Mollie as well.
“Craig gave me a four. Can he justify that? Not really, I don’t think so, personally.
“Anton [Du Beke] and Ruth [Langsford] got a four from him and they fell over in their routine and ended up on the floor.
“Was my routine bad enough that it matched someone who had fallen over?
“There wasn’t really consistency there. With respect, maybe think about the score a little bit more. They were hard on me last year.
“Even when I watch the show back I’m thinking, that’s a bit harsh, even from early weeks.”
Merrygold will be reunited with Janette Manrara, who he danced with on the 2017 edition of the show, for a jive dressed as the soldier from The Nutcracker.
He admitted he sees his appearance on the festive special as a way to set the record straight and convince viewers he was indeed booted off the show too early.
He said: “Christmas Day, if everybody at home goes: ‘Flipping hell, we could have seen more of that last year?’ Then I will be happy. That’s the goal.”
He added: “I’m not going to lie, I would love to win. More so for Janette because she’s put so much time and effort into this show.
“My way to say thank you is by going: ‘I’m going to bust my arse out there and work as hard as I can to get that glitterball, and actually go down in Strictly history as one of the champions.’ That would be nice.”
– The Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special will air on BBC One on Christmas Day at 5.30pm.