Strictly Come Dancing's Aliona Vilani says she was set up to fail

'Strictly Come Dancing' professional Aliona Vilani has blasted show bosses claiming she was deliberately paired with Tony Jacklin because they expected him to be kicked off first

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Aliona Vilani and Tony Jacklin

Aliona Vilani and Tony Jacklin

Aliona Vilani has claimed 'Strictly Come Dancing' bosses set her up to fail.

The 29-year-old professional - who was axed from the series earlier this year - was paired with Tony Jacklin, 69, and she insisted it was a plan to get her kicked off first because they were forced to rehire her to replace injured Natalie Lowe.

She told the Sunday Mirror newspaper: "I knew 100 per cent I'd be paired with Tony. It was so obvious to me.

"If the producers say they don't want you on the show and then, because of circumstance, they need to ask you to come back then they are going to put you with who they think will lose the competition.

"If I got somebody who was favourite to do well, and had been in the show a long time, it would have made their decision to get rid of me look like a mistake."

Aliona has defended her partner, explaining not only did she thoroughly enjoy dancing with him but she also thought the judges' criticisms of him were "uncalled for" ahead of their departure last week.

She said: "I made the best of the situation. I love dancing with Tony because he was such a sweet man and in such a short time we became friends. It was a pleasure to teach him.

"He was pushing himself and did great for a 69-year-old ... I looked sad and upset [on the show] because their comments were so uncalled for.

"Everyone I've spoken to has said Tony did not get the respect he should have got at 69. He had so many nice things in his dancing but the judges just said really bad things."

A spokeswoman for the show commented: "Many factors are taken into account before pairing a dancer with a celebrity.

"It is a carefully considered process to give each celebrity the best experience."

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