2 items from 2013
Mark Benton hits back at critics who brand reality television as nasty and says he is more shire horse than dark horse
He may be cast as this year's leaden-footed underdog, but Waterloo Road actor Mark Benton has described Strictly Come Dancing as uplifting and has hit back at recent critics who have branded reality television as nasty.
Benton dismissed suggestions that he was the competition's dark horse – "more like a shire horse" – in BBC1's ballroom extravaganza, which returns on Saturday night.
"The lovely thing about this is it's not nasty," he said on Wednesday after the filming of the opening episode. "Even though the judges make comments, I think it's a really positive show. It's uplifting when you watch it."
Talent shows have come in for a spate of criticism in recent weeks, with Great British Bake Off judge Mary Berry hitting out at the "ghastly" programmes and »
- Josh Halliday
The pair will take their place on the dancefloor among a familiar mix of soap stars, sporting idols and presenters, including the golfing legend Tony Jacklin, model Abbey Clancy, Dragons' Den star Deborah Meaden, singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Radio 2 DJ Vanessa Feltz.
Susanna Reid, the co-host of BBC1's Breakfast programme, who will also take part, said the other contestants "already looked like pros" and complained she was "aching in places I've never ached before" after beginning training for the show.
Fifteen contestants will take part in the new series, which returns to BBC1 on Saturday, once again going up against ITV's The X Factor. »
- John Plunkett
2 items from 2013
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