Last month it was claimed that Irish TV presenter Scanlon danced with the O’Shea Irish Dance Company back in 2001, performing all over the world with the group. Albeit Irish dance is world’s away from Latin and ballroom.
While West End performer Williams’ signing ruffled some feathers given his experience starring in hit musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.
He began his career aged 12 in the West End production of Billy Elliot – about a young boy’s dream of becoming a ballet star, and is also an alumni of the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, where former Strictly contestants Pixie Lott and Kelly Brook also studied.
In response to the furore, Scanlon, 39, told The Standard: “I did Irish dancing. I mean, most people, you grow up in Ireland, you do Irish dancing.
“But I’ve never done ballroom, I’ve certainly never done a rumba, or any of this style of dancing.
“You dance a) on your own, [it’s] very stiff. The salsa hips, I don’t know how we’re going to [achieve that]. I have to take into consideration a partner’s limbs and presence, so we’ll see.”
While Williams, 28, told us: “I obviously wanted to do it, but I was so worried about a reaction [giving my performing background].
“But for the most part the response has been so lovely from people that have seen me in the shows [like Everybody’s Talking About Jamie] and been like, ‘Oh my God, he came to Aberdeen, and I can’t wait to see him actually do the show.’
“So, I’m focusing on the positives,” he continued.
“Obviously, it happens every single year, so it’s no surprise. You want a good mix of people, who have different abilities.
“But let me tell you right now it is new to me too. Latin and ballroom, it is a whole other world… I hope that, if I’m going to be held to this standard, I want to make sure that I go out there and do my best.”
Their comments come after a Strictly insider hit back at the fact both contestants have prior experience in dance, telling the Standard: “There is no rule that celebrities cannot have dance experience before taking part and it would be near impossible to find a cast of 15 celebrities who have no previous dance experience as many people in the entertainment industry go to stage school.
“They have never been trained in Ballroom or Latin and have not tried to hide their dancing experience, but it is not remotely similar to what they will be required to learn for the show.”
Strictly Come Dancing returns Saturday, September 16 at 6.35pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer