BASILDON’s Denise Van Outen has hit back at claims she’s too skilled for Strictly Come Dancing and insists her past dance experience will not give her an unfair advantage in this year’s competition.

The 38-year-old presenter turned West End star, has been criticised for already having learnt how to dance in her stints in Legally Blonde and Chicago.

But Denise, who was partnered with James Jordan during Saturday’s Strictly launch show, insists she is in no better position than other professional performers in the line-up this year.

Responing to calls for her to be booted off the show, including one from BBC2 radio DJ Chris Evans, she said: “I don’t really know why he has chosen to pick on me because there are other contestants who have similar experience.

“I think it’s harsh, and a bit rude really. Kimberley Walsh has just done Shrek in the West End and she’s in a girl band who dance.”

She added: “I’m coming into this just like everybody else, because I want to learn a new skill. This is something I’ve never done before.

“The dancing is so completely different to what I’ve done before. I’ve only ever done one show I’ve ever danced in, and that was Chicago and I did one number in that 11 years ago.”

Denise, married to Lee Mead who grew up in Southend, has wasted no time engaging her dance partner in some friendly banter.

The former Big Breakfast presenter has promised the pair will be up to nuisance on the show, saying: “We’ll get told off because we're both mischievous. I’m a right show-off and I’ll get carried away. We’ll have a lot of fun.”

The couple – already nicknamed “Vanjam” now have three weeks to train together before the main series begins on Friday, October 5 – kicking off with a double bill of shows which will see all 14 couples perform for the first time.

Denise’s friends from reality show the Only Way is Essex, which she narrates, have been bombarding Twitter with message of support.