Entertainment & Arts

Strictly Come Dancing's Shirley Ballas: The verdict on new head judge

Shirley Ballas Image copyright PA
Image caption Ballas made her Strictly Come Dancing debut on Saturday night

Shirley Ballas sashayed her way on to the Strictly dance floor for the first time on Saturday - and it's fair to say she received a pretty good reaction.

The Latin expert had to contend with Bruno's accidental groping, gamely laughing it off and carrying on.

And the new head judge did slip up once, calling a contestant the wrong name (it's Chizzy, not Lizzy!).

But overall, it seems the ballroom star did a good job, with one fan tweeting: "At last, a judge who CAN dance."

Ian Waite, star of Strictly's sister show, It Takes Two, was also impressed, saying Ballas was set to be a "great judge".

Comedian Sarah Millican was also feeling the love.

And Rufus Hound agreed, awarding her a 10 out of 10.

Fans of the show were equally excited and were keen to praise her judging style, with many impressed by her professional knowledge and advice.

Several noticed a similarity to former Strictly judge Arlene Phillips, who had to make way on the judging panel for Alesha Dixon, who won the dance contest herself back in 2007.

In fact, Phillips herself retweeted a reference to Shirley - but soon deleted it.

Image copyright Twitter/Arlene Phillips

But she also acknowledged the skills of the new judge and thanked fans for their support.

As for the TV critics, they seemed to like her.

Heidi Stephens wrote in The Guardian: "I quite liked Shirley from the launch show, she talks a lot of sense and has some serious moves. A worthy substitute for Len, I hope they've paid her enough to warrant being manhandled by Bruno every weekend."

And the Daily Mail's Jan Moir was also a fan.

"She seems determined to be the technically superior but supportive and kindly judge," she wrote.

"Like a mum buying a school blazer in August, she insisted to all the clodhopper contestants that there was 'plenty of room for growth'. Len wouldn't have been so kind. Len who?"


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