Susan Calman has hit back at critics of her decision to dance with a man on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing.

The comedian, who is openly gay, has been slammed on social media for taking part in the show due to its refusal to pair gay contestants with dancers of the same sex.

Opening up the BBC about the backlash, Calman said she believed there was “nothing more powerful” than having a gay woman feature on a prime-time TV show.

She said: “I think politically, there’s nothing more powerful than having an openly gay woman on the biggest show on television, whose wife’s on the front row, doing what she wants to do.”

“For the gay community to criticise me and try to get me what they want to do is, I think, as difficult as suggesting the straight community are trying to.

“No one is holding me hostage in this room, making me wear a dress and dance with a man. I want to learn how to dance,” added the star.

Gy Radio 1 presenter Scott Mills was previously forced to defend the BBC’s decision to pair him with a woman during his time in the competition, saying that same-sex pairings don’t “work as well in things like ballroom”.

Strictly featured its first same-sex dance back in 2014, when professional dancer Robin Windsor danced with reigning champion Aljaž Skorjanec.

Strictly Come Dancing launches at 7pm on Saturday 9 September, on BBC One