'The level is super high this year': Strictly judge Shirley Ballas defends her 'heartbreaking' decision to send Dev Griffin home amid fix claims

Their early exit from Strictly Come Dancing left viewers stunned on Sunday night.

But head judge Shirley Ballas defended the 'heartbreaking' decision to send home Dev Griffin and Dianne Buswell by emphasising how tough the competition is, stating: 'The level is super high this year'.

The 59-year-old TV star's words come amid a fix row surrounded the BBC dance show after fans claim they 'couldn't vote' for the axed duo.

Having her say: Shirley Ballas defended the decision to send home Dev Griffin and Dianne Buswell, emphasising how tough the competition is, stating: 'The level is super high this year'

Having her say: Shirley Ballas defended the decision to send home Dev Griffin and Dianne Buswell, emphasising how tough the competition is, stating: 'The level is super high this year'

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Speaking on Monday's Loose Women, Shirley told how it was 'heartbreaking to send anybody home'.

She also touched on Dianne's devastation on the night and insisted that people have to vote to keep their favourites in the competition.

She said: 'The professionals word so hard. She puts life and soul into her partner so I understood why she was a little bit upset. But, people have to get out there and vote.

'We do our job but as you can see, there was people who were saved with a lot lowers scores.'

Early exit: The 59-year-old TV star's words come amid a fix row surrounded the BBC dance show after fans claim they 'couldn't vote' for the axed duo

Early exit: The 59-year-old TV star's words come amid a fix row surrounded the BBC dance show after fans claim they 'couldn't vote' for the axed duo

After panellist Jane Moore made a comment that people in the middle of the leaderboard may not get as many votes as those at the top of bottom, Shirley emphasised: ‘It’s just so important that people… I mean, I respect everybody at home who’s been watching the show for 15 series, everybody’s got a favourite, somebody has to go. ' 

The ballroom dancer also told how several fans had got in touch to fight the Radio One presenter's corner, but she insisted that it wasn't just her who sent him home.  

'Lots of people wrote to me about how he's so talented, but it wasn’t just my decision,' she explained.

'The three [other judges], it was unanimous. My job really is to critique the dancing, it’s not for everyone’s private life, it’s about what the best job I can do for the British public on a Saturday night. 

Warning: 'The professionals word so hard. She puts life and soul into her partner so I understood why she was a little bit upset. But, people have to get out there and vote'

Defence: The ballroom dancer also told how several fans had got in touch to fight the Radio One presenter's corner, but she insisted that it wasn't just her who sent him home

'I think it’s more to do with the dancing standard is very high. Everything is difficult normally when you go into week seven, but its week three and it’s difficult to send people home.'

Dianne and Dev's exit was marred in controversy after several viewers claimed they couldn't vote for the pair as their phone lines were not working.

As a result, fans branded the show a 'fix', with many threatening to 'boycott' the series altogether.

Meanwhile on the ITV show, Shirley was joined by her boyfriend Daniel Taylor, with the star saying it was 'love at first sight'.  

Unexpected exit: Sunday night saw Dianne, 30, and Dev, 34, come crashing out of the show after losing out in the dance-off to Emma Weymouth and Aljaz Skorjanec

Fix row: Dianne and Dev's exit was marred in controversy after several viewers claimed they couldn't vote for the pair as their phone lines were not working 

Discussing how they met, she said: 'We met on panto as friends. It didn’t really take off until March… for him. I fell in love way before... I think for me it was first sight.'

She continued: 'He was going through a difficult time in his relationship. We did become friends and then probably in about February I said, "I love you Danny" and he said, "I know". It took a while.'

Daniel then told how the couple met while he was still going through a break-up, sating: 'She [Shirley] said, "I’ll keep an eye on you" and that was sort of it.'

Shirley then hit back at talk around the pair's age gap, adding: 'Well, the press seem to always want to put him down as 44, he’ll be 47 on his next birthday.

Happy couple: Happy: Meanwhile on the ITV show, Shirley was joined by her boyfriend Daniel Taylor, with the star saying it was 'love at first sight'

Happy couple: Happy: Meanwhile on the ITV show, Shirley was joined by her boyfriend Daniel Taylor, with the star saying it was 'love at first sight'

Unimpressed: 'I just think it¿s so sexist. It doesn¿t seem to matter if an older man gets a younger woman. There¿s not much chat about it. There seems to be major chat about this [relationship]'

Unimpressed: 'I just think it’s so sexist. It doesn’t seem to matter if an older man gets a younger woman. There’s not much chat about it. There seems to be major chat about this [relationship]'

'I just think it’s so sexist. It doesn’t seem to matter if an older man gets a younger woman. There’s not much chat about it. There seems to be major chat about this [relationship]. There’s 12 years, 13 maybe.'

The loved-up pair, who've been together for nine months, then talked about the idea of marriage, with Shirley joking that he should pop the question live on air. She joked: 'Ask me Danny, ask me!'

To which he smiled: 'It’s early days. I want to enjoy this.'

Loose Women continues weekdays at 12.30pm on ITV.  

Wedding bells? The loved-up pair, who've been together for nine months, then talked about the idea of marriage, with Shirley joking that he should pop the question live on air

Wedding bells? The loved-up pair, who've been together for nine months, then talked about the idea of marriage, with Shirley joking that he should pop the question live on air

 

Strictly's Shirley Ballas defends decision to eliminate Dev Griffin

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