Shirley Ballas promises to be a “strict but encouraging” judge on Strictly

Shirley Ballas has promised to be a "strict but encouraging" judge as she takes over as Strictly's head judge next week.

Shirley Ballas has warned that she will be “strict, but encouraging” when she takes over as Strictly Come Dancing head judge next week.

The former ballroom star said she will be looking for everything from dance technique to partner chemistry when the fresh batch of celebrities take to the BBC dance floor.

Speaking at a launch for the new series this week, she said: “I’m strict by nature, but encouraging.

“I like the journey and I like technique and quality synchronisation, beautiful movement, so I’m a little bit across the board.

“To really impress me, the celebrity would have to have elements of technique, creativity and also the magic with your partner: chemistry.”

The 56-year-old, who dominated the world of professional Latin American dance in the 1980s and 1990s, will make her debut on the Strictly panel this series, taking over from former show veteran, Len Goodman.

“When the call came in I did fall to my knees, I couldn’t be more honoured to be asked to do this job,” she continued.

“Strictly is the most magical show on planet Earth. The glitz, the glamour, the theme weeks – I personally am most excited about Halloween week, and I think I would even like to dress up as Cruella De Vil.”

The central London event also welcomed the full range of contestants in their first sparkling Strictly costumes, judges, presenters and the team of professional dancers, which this year includes three new additions.

Delighted to see the hopefuls already “performing” on the red carpet, judge Darcey Bussell said: “They didn’t seem as nervous as I’ve seen in the past, so fingers crossed we’ve got some great performers, I think some personalities.”

Presenter Tess Daly joked: “I often wonder whether the celebrities know what they are letting themselves in for.

“But they are going to have the most incredible time.”

ITV’s This Morning presenter Ruth Langsford will be spending some time apart from her co-host and husband, Eamonn Holmes throughout the gruelling training process, but she assured fans that she was already preparing him for her absences.

She quipped: “It’s just for three months, and I’ve showed him how to use the dishwasher this week.

“(I told him) You see this thing? You open the door, you put the dishes in and then you press that button.”

Strictly will return on Saturday 9th September on BBC1 at 7pm with the first episode of the 15th series, Strictly Come Dancing – The Launch.

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