Strictly insiders say BBC wants Maisie Smith in the final

Strictly insiders say BBC is ‘pulling out all the stops’ to get Maisie Smith into the final – as fellow stars raise eyebrows over amount of publicity being lavished on actress

Strictly stars are muttering about the level of publicity being lavished on Maisie Smith by the BBC, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Some of those competing for the Glitterball trophy suspect the Corporation of a desperate bid to keep the young actress – who has already twice been in the dance off – on the show and are ‘pulling out all the stops’.

In recent days, the 19-year-old, who has played Bianca Butcher’s daughter Tiffany in the BBC’s EastEnders since she was six, has given a number of newspaper interviews, made the front cover of OK! magazine and appeared on ITV’s This Morning.

Strictly stars are privately complaining about the amount of publicity being generated by Maisie Smith – who many feel is being pushed forward to win the competition 

Meanwhile Good Morning Britain bosses fear that they could lose Ranvir Singh after her successful stint on Strictly Come Dancing

While Miss Smith, who was given the sought-after final dance last weekend, has scored comparatively highly with the judges, the public appear to be less convinced. ‘There are a lot of people involved with Strictly who felt that there was some preferential treatment going on,’ said a show insider.

‘Maisie is the BBC’s girl. She has grown up on EastEnders and as the daughter of Bianca, one of their most iconic characters, is very important to them. They view her as a star.’

Good Morning Britain bosses fear that they could lose Ranvir Singh after her successful stint on Strictly Come Dancing.

With her current contract ending in the New Year, Ms Singh, who is political editor for the popular ITV programme, is due to begin contract negotiations.

Sources on the show fear her heightened popularity will result in her being inundated with other, more lucrative offers. ‘Ranvir is bigger than standing on Downing Street in the rain in the early hours of the morning now,’ said one insider. ‘She has shown her true self on Strictly and is now quite the star.’ Ms Singh, 43, regularly stands in for Good Morning Britain’s main presenters Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid.

Her chemistry with dance partner Giovanni Pernice has fuelled talk of a romance. It intensified following a clip of their performance last week in which he was heard saying: ‘I love you.’ Ms Singh has insisted that romance between the pair is ‘fantasy’.

Friends of Mr Pernice also deny they are in a relationship, adding: ‘It’s just for TV.’

Last night Craig Revel Horwood described Ms Singh’s Viennese waltz to She Used To Be Mine from musical Waitress as ‘beautiful’, awarding her nine out of ten.

Fellow judges Shirley Ballas and Motsi Mabuse matched his score, giving her 27 out of 30.

The teenager, who has been partnered with the popular Gorka Marquez, has been the subject of cruel jibes from some viewers, prompting her mother Julia to recently speak out in defence of her ‘vulnerable and nervous’ daughter.

Referring to her previous dance experience, one Twitter user wrote: ‘Really hoping stage school Maisie doesn’t win.

‘It’s so boring when they’re basically perfect already.’

Another wrote: ‘Not surprised Maisie is bottom 2. As a dancer she is fabulous, but personality-wise I get nothing. Stage school robot.’ Asked by the Mail on Sunday if she felt that she had gained an advantage by performing the final dance last Saturday, Miss Smith said: ‘Absolutely not. It was terrifying. There was a lot of pressure to close the show and I was even more nervous than I have been the past six weeks.’

While all the celebrities on the show have media opportunities, Miss Smith has been a particularly high profile contestant due, in part, to rumours of sparks flying between her and fellow dancer HRVY.

Last night she jived to Little Shop Of Horrors from the show of the same name for musicals week. 

The judges were impressed again, with Craig Revel Horwood and Motsi Mabuse both giving her nine while head judge Shirley Ballas gave her top marks. 

In an interview before last weekend’s show, mother Julia said: ‘As a parent, it’s not about her winning, it’s not about her being at the top of the leaderboard… It’s seeing my daughter upset and vulnerable. I want to grab her… I feel her vulnerability.’

Last night, a BBC spokesman said: ‘The suggestion that any of the couples receive preferential treatment is completely untrue and unfounded.

‘Maisie has performed her dance in the first half of all couples each week bar one, where she happened to perform last. Maisie has taken part in no more media opportunities than any other celebrity.’

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