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11 September 2017, 12:14
On Saturday a whopping 8.8 million people tuned in to watch this year’s Strictly Come Dancing launch night. It was the nation’s first introduction to new head judge Shirley Ballas – and the verdict has been hugely positive.
Retired head judge Len Goodman ruled the roost from 2004 to 2016. But if Shirley was daunted by following in his footsteps, she didn’t let it show.
Shirley made her entrance during a dance floor routine where fellow judges Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood and Darcey Bussell strutted their stuff. Looking sensational in a red dress, she danced along a row of male professional dancers as Dave Arch and his wonderful, wonderful orchestra played Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky.’
Shirley, 56, set out her stall early when asked what she was looking for from this year’s crop of celebrity dancers. “Through a very, very strict eye I will definitely be looking for footwork and which part of the foot is used, whether it’s the heels, the toes, inside edge, outside edge,” she said. “Our arms are as long as our legs – I’ll be looking for synchronisation and coordination and how the arms work with the legs.”
When asked by Tess Daly where she sits on the strictness scale – with Craig being a 10 – Shirley responded without missing a beat: “An 11.”So it looks like she’ll be putting the strict into Strictly.
When it comes to experience, the new head judge has the right credentials. She first started doing ballroom and Latin American dancing aged seven. She won the British Championships aged 23, and is a three-times British Open champion; a European champion and TEN TIMES Open United States Latin American champion.
Fans on Twitter were swooning over the new arrival, and they also noticed the resemblance to Arlene Phillips, Strictly’s original female judge who left the show after the 2008 series.
Catching up on #Strictly. Anyone else waiting for Shirley Ballas to suddenly rip of her mask to reveal a V-flicking Arlene Phillips?!— Vicky R (@Sod_pot) September 9, 2017
We think Shirley is going to shake up the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom – and we’re ready for it!
Strictly Come Dancing will return on Saturday September 23 on BBC1.