Rachel Riley suggests all Strictly contestants should be given therapy - details

Virgin Radio

2 Apr 2024, 13:47

Rachel Riley smiling on the red carpet and dancing on Strictly with Pasha

Credit: Getty/The Sun

Rachel Riley has suggested all Strictly Come Dancing contestants should be given cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as a result of how the process can seemingly negatively affect individuals’ mental health.

The Countdown presenter’s comments follow Sherlock star Amanda Abbington’s sudden departure from the programme in 2023, and her later claims that she developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of her time on the show.

Speaking at the Inspiration Awards For Women at London’s The Landmark Hotel, Riley shared: “I know from my time on it, 11 years ago, even the most sane, solid, grounded people - it can do something to you,” the Mirror reports.

“And there’s so many people that I’ve seen in subsequent years that have that shared experience,” she continued. “I don’t think even production are aware of quite what it does to people.

“When I was doing it, I was recommended CBT, and I think that’s actually been really great,” she also added.

Speaking with the Mirror in 2021, the TV star revealed she herself had developed PTSD after her time on the show. “I needed cognitive behavioural therapy after competing in 2013 and developed post-traumatic stress disorder,” she revealed. “If I heard the theme music, I’d start reliving the experience. It was scary and unnerving, so my way of dealing with it is to avoid watching.”

However, while Riley went on to praise her experience for how it connected her with her now husband, former Strictly professional Pasha Kovalev, Abbington’s recent experience left the actress in an apparent feud with her dancing partner Giovanni Pernice.

Responding to Riley’s recent comments about her experience on Strictly, a BBC Spokesperson told virginradio.co.uk: “Planning around care for those taking part in and competing in our programmes is always a core part of our production process and we have BBC editorial guidelines to help protect those taking part. We have plans which cover initial casting through to pre-production, to after care beyond transmission.

“Depending on the production we offer support such as meetings with psychologists, Mental Health First Aiders on set and individually, as well as advice on social media use and working with the press. We have our own safeguarding team of health and wellbeing professionals to give support regarding the mental health of our contributors. 

“We continue to work with producers, external specialists and others in the industry as well as our own specialist advisers to develop best practice in this area to help protect those taking part in our shows.”

The BBC also previously responded to Amanda’s requests for information regarding her time on the show, asserting their “proud track record” and duty of care on the show.