Strictly's Kellie Bright rejects claims of 'bitchy' culture on dance show
Strictly Come Dancing's Kellie Bright says she is "not a feminist" - but she has denounced those who label the contestants "bitches".
This year's Strictly contestants have been dubbed the "bitchiest group ever" in some media reports, with Call The Midwife's Helen George facing particular criticism after rumours that she does not speak to other dancers.
However, EastEnders actress Bright has taken issue with the phrase.
She wrote in the Radio Times: "Ask yourself why that statement makes you think immediately of the women involved? Why not Ainsley (Harriott), Jeremy (Vine) or Peter (Andre)?
"Because men (and I adore all of our male comrades) are not referred to as bitches. Period.
"Let's get something straight... I'm not a feminist. I'm not usually compelled to write a gushing piece about a group of women who have rather unexpectedly found themselves bonding for life during an extraordinary experience. And yet, here I am."
Bright recalled difficult experiences with other actresses, including the "cliquey" cast of Bad Girls in 2002 - b ut she insisted that Strictly was different.
She wrote: "What? I hear you cry, no divas? No backstabbing? There must surely be at least one bitch among you! The answer is a resounding no."
The actress, 39, explained: " The secret, I believe, is that we genuinely watch each other's back and feel we're in this together...
"I think problems surface when women start comparing themselves with each other - that's when feelings of insecurity and unhappiness emerge and women can turn on each other and become 'bitches'."