Strictly Come Dancing 'catfight' wounds Alesha Dixon

Alesha Dixon has dismissed criticism that she is not qualified to judge Strictly Come Dancing's contestants as "nonsense" and said she has been left "wounded" by the backlash against her.

Dixon, 30, made her debut on Friday, replacing feisty choreographer Arlene Phillips, 66, on the panel.

She has been blasted by viewers who believe the glamorous star lacks the experience to step into the role and want Phillips to return.

The singer, who won the contest in 2007, told the Radio Times she was shocked at the age row that erupted when Phillips was axed and believes some comments levelled against her were driven merely by bitchiness.

"It was all a shock to me," Dixon told the magazine, "especially how quickly everyone jumped on the ageism argument.

"Maybe people wanted to start a catfight. But I didn't see it as an argument between Arlene and me. We were just caught in the middle. I haven't even spoken to her about it. Why would I?

"Was I wounded by some of the comments? Sure. Some of them were very stereotypical and judgmental. When I read that I only won in 2007 because I was half-naked, I did take that seriously. That's not someone offering a considered opinion, that's someone being a bitch."

Addressing criticism that she does not have the skills for the job, Dixon told the magazine: "It's nonsense to say that I'm not qualified to judge the dancers."

She continued: "I spent six years singing with Mis-Teeq, and another four as a solo artist where I had to pick my own dancers and audition them. So I'm not new to this. Also, having competed on the show, I'll be the only judge who understands what the celebrity dancers are going through.2

Camilla Dallerup, a former professional dancer on the show, also called for Dixon to be given a chance. Dallerup, 35, who announced she was quitting the show last January after six years, told New! magazine: "Let's give Alesha a chance. She is a great dancer and sghe entertained us when she won. She has a bubbly personality and I think it will be infectious. She'll hold her own with the judges."