Media watchdog Ofcom was awash with complaints after Roxanne Pallett accused Ryan Thomas of punching her during Thursday night’s Celebrity Big Brother.
And the former Emmerdale star’s fiancé Lee Walton has waded into the ‘punch’ row, claiming the pair have had a secret feud for more than 10 years.
Lee claims the pair fell out when Ryan, 34, asked the 35-year-old not to wear a dress to the 2008 Soap Awards because his co-star was wearing a similar gown, while pals close to the ex-Coronation actor say she’s holding a grudge due to his close friendship with her ex-boyfriend Richard Fleeshman.
Lee told New! Magazine: ‘Roxanne said Ryan rang her and told her, “Don’t wear that dress tonight”, she was obviously p***ed off.
‘Then when she was at the event, she says he came up to her and said to her again, “I hope you haven’t brought that dress and you’re not going to wear it tonight”.’
Lee added: ‘Roxanne wore the dress anyway and was photographed in it and was all over the front pages, I think after that they haven’t spoken.’
Roxanne ended up wearing the silky sea blue dress to the award ceremony and while Ryan’s Corrie co-star has never been named, Michelle Keegan posed on the red carpet in a similar full-length gown.
The soap stars were said to have quarrelled just months later when Roxanne was in a relationship with Richard Fleeshman.
However, a source close to Ryan said Roxanne is ‘targeting’ him because of her history with his former co-star and friend Richard.
The insider told MailOnline: ‘Roxanne is widely regarded as a pathological liar and fantasist- as people saw in last night’s show.
‘She is a dangerous woman and appears to be targeting Ryan because of his friendship with her ex, Richard Fleeshman.’
MailOnline has contacted Roxanne and Ryan’s representatives for comment.
Back in 2008, Richard, then 16, starred in Coronation Street with Ryan, and had an 18-month romance with the brunette beauty when they got together on Soapstar Superstar.
Ryan is said to have accused Roxanne of flirting with another man – while she was in a relationship with Richard.
A source told the Daily Star: ‘Ryan warned Richard that he thought Roxanne was up to no good, which wasn’t true. Roxanne was furious she’d been painted out to be something she wasn’t.
‘In one conversation she asked Ryan, ‘why are you interfering?’ Ryan then told her not to speak to him. Things didn’t improve after that.’
And after nominating each other ahead of Tuesday’s eviction, their frosty relationship reached fever pitch on Thursday night.
Viewers watched as Roxanne broke down in tears after labelling the soap star a ‘woman beater’ after he playfully punched her, calling on producers of the Channel 5 show to kick out Ryan.
While there she asked to speak with a producer off camera, explaining: ‘I just need to talk to somebody in production about something that’s just happened that made me really uncomfortable. I don’t really want to go any further and talk about it on camera like this.’
Roxanne’s comments were sure to leave fans confused as it wasn’t until later that the actress stepped back into the Diary room to say: ‘I was in shock.’
‘A boy has punched me repeatedly, unprovoked, deliberately, he actually punched me like a boxer would punch a bag we weren’t play fighting there was no joke, there was no exchange.’
Ryan was called in to be given a formal warning regarding the incident, where he said: ‘I think that we both know and Roxanne knows that there was no malice and hurt, or anger, in anything that I did during this time. But from your point of view, while doing this show, I am sorry and I understand.’
Roxanne then asked to sleep in a separate bedroom because she was ‘suffering’ and ‘didn’t feel comfortable’ sleeping in the same room.
Following the accusations, outraged viewers took to social media, tweeting the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom with their complaints.
One viewer wrote: ‘Ofcom complaint completed. Crazy behaviour by @RoxannePallett just to attract attention and discredit Ryan. Backfired as the nation can see what she’s up to #getroxyout #withdrawryanswarning.’
Another typed: @Ofcom totally disgusted about how @ryanjamesthomas has been treated tonight by @bbuk! Roxanne is using slanderous terms and could cause his career damage instead of using common sense #cbb has made out that he is in the wrong, where he is not!,’ while another CBB fan chimed: ‘I’ve made a formal complaint to Ofcom about Roxanne #cbb I really hope it backfires on her.’
Many claimed Ryan was ‘obviously play fighting’ and ‘hardly touched her’ during the incident, which aired on last night’s episode.
Ryan’s girlfriend and reality TV star Lucy Mecklenburgh called for Pallett to be removed from the show, adding that she does not think ‘she is fit’ to be on the show.
Others criticised Pallett for ‘belittling actual victims’ of domestic abuse and for a trying to ‘ruin’ Thomas’ career.
Among them was former chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal, who said the actress ‘clearly has issues and needs help’.
He added: ‘I don’t engage with Celebrity Big Brother but I can’t let what just happened pass.
‘What Roxanne did in alleging domestic violence (which we saw for ourselves) and persuading producers to warn Ryan set back immense work done by [domestic violence] charities in raising awareness.’
Others pointed out that Pallett appeared to wince and hold the opposite side of her body when supposedly punched by Thomas.
Following the backlash, a representative for Roxanne said: ‘Roxanne has no contact with the outside world to make her own statement, however we do know that Roxanne has worked closely with various domestic violence charities due to being a victim of domestic violence herself.
‘She would be very upset to find out she may have caused offence to others who have been through the same.
‘We can’t make any more comment at present until such time as Roxanne is out of the Big Brother house and is able to address this situation herself.’