The new series of 'Strictly Come Dancing' has not even started yet, and it's already generating quite a bit of controversy.

This time, however, it's nothing to do with anything the dancers have done - but the judges.

Craig Revel-Horwood has issued a public apology to former winners Stacey Dooley and her dance partner Kevin Clifton - who became a real-life couple after the show - after making a jibe at them during the recording of the launch show.

Dooley and her family were present at the recording, which is due to air this Saturday, and had danced earlier in the pre-recorded show.

According to The Sun, Revel-Horwood was asked what advice he'd give to this year's contestants and made reference to being inspired by Dooley, saying "Stacey was dragged up from the dance gutter...of course, if you sleep with your dance partner that helps.”

They say that Dooley's mother left the studio 'in tears'.

Revel-Horwood later issued a statement to The Sun apologising, saying "I'm deeply sorry for the offence caused to Kevin and Stacey and everyone who works on the show.

"I recognise that what I said was hurtful, cruel and incredibly disrespectful. It was a huge error of judgment that I very much regret."

Neither Dooley nor Clifton have commented.