STRICTLY bosses have dropped professional dancer Nadiya Bychkova from this year’s main line-up amid fears that at 34, she is too old to dance with 20-year-old Bobby Brazier.
Bosses reckoned viewers of the BBC1 televised competition would dislike the 14-year age difference between the Ukrainian and the EastEnders actor.
Nadia Bychkova was ignored by strict bosses Credit: PA
The showrunners believed that the dynamic between her and Bobby Brazier would not sit well with viewers Credit: BBC
At 6 feet 2 inches, Bobby would be the only one tall enough to match the leggy Nadiya.
The shocker comes despite a string of other big-gap couples over the years — who haven’t caused any controversy during their performances.
A TV insider said: “At almost 6 feet tall in heels, Nadiya is by far the tallest of all the pros.
“This meant that she would beat seven out of eight male celebrities in the competition.
“The only person she could have been matched with is Bobby, who is 6ft 2in and is by far the tallest celebrity at this year’s show.
“Given his height, it was expected that he would form a duo in this series.
“But the bosses felt there was something strange about the fact that especially fresh-faced Bobby had only turned 20 this summer, while Nadiya is a mature woman.
“However, it’s not just about the actual age difference.
“It’s also about appearance.
“As long as they both have the same boy-or-girl-next-door look, it works.
“But if they’re too contrasting, they just won’t work – especially in dances where the audience has to trust the chemistry between the dance partners.”
The source continued: “Not putting Nadiya in the duo was a tough decision.
“But bosses always have Strictly’s best interests at heart and the golden rule is that no one is bigger than the show.”
It emerged over the weekend that Nadiya will not be getting a partner, sparking disbelief among die-hard fans who have followed her closely since she joined the show six years ago.
However, there are always more professionals than celebrities — meaning that some professional dancers end up on the “swapping bench” every year if a suitable match in terms of height, age and chemistry cannot be found.
In the past, Nadiya’s tall stature has worked in her favor as she has always carried tall men such as TV presenter Dan Walker, who is 6ft 6in, and former EastEnders star Davood Ghadami, who is 6ft tall.
But the fact that they were in their thirties and forties when they danced with her immediately made them a more suitable couple.
Dan was among the first to come to Nadiya’s defense on Monday, saying that giving her only a supporting role in the dance group on the show was a bad idea.
He wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “All the pros are great but sick to hear @nadiyabychkova doesn’t have a partner.
“I’m sure he’s still looking forward to being part of the biggest show on TV.
“But that’s like putting Messi on the bench for the World Cup final!”
Bobby is the son of the late Jade Goody and TV presenter Jeff Brazier, and has proved hugely popular since being cast as Freddie Slater in the soap last year, aged just 19.
Earlier this week, he said he had a concrete idea of what kind of partner he wanted – and that it wasn’t someone who would distract him.
Speaking at the National Television Awards, where he won the Rising Star gong for his role in ‘Enders’, he said: “I’m not looking for any romance strictly, I’m looking for an older sister.”
The launch show airs this Saturday, with the full line-up of pros and their celebrity partners finally revealed.
Next Saturday’s show will be the first time the couples will dance as a pair.
This year, the oldest contestant is former reader Angela Rippon at 78 years old.
And since the oldest professional in the series is Neil Jones, aged 41, there would be a whopping 37-year gap if she were partnered with him.
A BBC spokeswoman declined to comment.
Nadiya’s height worked in her favor before as she always hunted tall men
Nadiya started dating fellow pro Kai Widdrington after they met on StrictlyCredit: Instagram,