Belfast Telegraph

Strictly Come Dancing’s Shirley Ballas: ‘Celebrities know what they’ve signed up for’

Ballas has replaced Len Goodman as head judge.

Strictly Come Dancing’s new head judge Shirley Ballas has warned that she will not be going easy on the show’s celebrity contestants – as they’ve had “weeks to prepare”.

Ballas, 56, makes her debut as Len Goodman’s replacement on Saturday night, when viewers will discover who this year’s contestants have been paired with.

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Shirley Ballas.

Asked whether she would give a little more leeway to the stars with no dance experience under their belts, Ballas told ITV’s Lorraine: “No, no, no, because you come into the show, you understand about what you’re signing up for I imagine.

“They have several weeks to prepare… I’m expecting quite interesting things from the very beginning.

“I’m not expecting them to dance like world champions. But they’ll come in and we’ll start to see who’s serious, who’s nervous. It’s a competition for me, I take it quite seriously.”

Ballas, who retired from competitive dancing in 1996, said the show’s tribute to its former host Sir Bruce Forsyth would be a “beautiful dedication”.

“I think everybody will have to have their tissues”, she said.

The Queen of Latin admitted that she “dropped to my knees” when she discovered she had the Strictly job, saying: “So many great people went for the lovely role.”

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Len Goodman

Goodman stepped down from the high-profile position in 2016, after 12 years.

Ballas joins judges Darcey Bussell, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli on the dance show.

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