Craig Revel Horwood says he has “lied through his teeth” about what he thought of Strictly Come Dancing’s line-ups in previous years.
The judge also revealed that he disagrees with his co-star Shirley Ballas’s strict way of judging technique in the early stage of the competition.
Horwood told Zoe Ball on Strictly: It Takes Two: “I have to say, it’s a fantastic group this year, really good. I’m very, very, genuinely excited.
“I know I’ve said that before, but I’ve lied through my teeth.
“But this year I really am [excited], and it’s full of surprises.”
Referring to Ashley Roberts’s cha cha cha routine with Pasha Kovalev in the latest episode, which he gave eight points and which Ballas gave seven, he said: “It was technically really good, I loved her and her energy.
“Obviously Shirley is going to put her mark on it, and be judging like a professional, but I think it’s still too early in the competition to be that harsh.
“I know that sounds odd coming from me, but if you’re comparing everybody she’s absolutely amazing and that’s why she deserved an eight.”
He added: “She didn’t deserve a nine though, because there was still too much wrong with it.”
Asked by Ball if he thinks it is fair that Ballas said she holds Roberts – a former member of singing and dance troupe the Pussycat Dolls – to a higher standard, Horwood said: “No, I think you can hold people to a standard if you wish, but I don’t do that.
“I literally put my judge’s cap on, I come out, and I’m a completely different person than I am on this show, because I’m rather scrumptious, I’m an adorable, lovely person.
“But when I’ve got a one minute and 30 second dance routine to judge, and I’ve then got 10 seconds to speak and I try to be as succinct as I possibly can, and say what I think is wrong so they can move forward to go through to the next week.”
Horwood said he thought Faye Tozer and Giovanni Pernice’s unique Viennese waltz last week was a high point for him “because it had drama”, and because although it can often be a very boring routine, they “dressed it up”.
But he said that Graeme Swann and Oti Mabuse’s attempt at an American smooth was “a bit weird”, and that he did not really like it at all.
Strictly Come Dancing continues at 6.30pm on Saturday on BBC One.