Strictly judge Shirley Ballas admits ‘heartbreaking’ part of show as it returns for 21st series

Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas has admitted that there is a 'heartbreaking' part of show after it returned for its 21st series.

The 63 year old ballroom dancer, dance teacher, and dance adjudicator often has some tough decisions to make on the show, which all comes with the role of being Head Judge.

As the show dances its way back into our living rooms for the foreseeable months, with a host of new celebrities vying for the Glitterball Trophy, Shirley has opened up on her favourite bits, best memories, and why it can sometimes be heartbreaking.

Here's what she had to say…

Strictly is back for its 21st series! How does it feel to return to the judging panel for such a monumental show?

I’m super excited to return to the panel, it’s going to be one superb series. I feel so lucky to get a front row seat in the ballroom, it is a real privilege. I cannot wait to nurture and guide our new celebrities to help them become the best dancers they can be.

We've asked all the pros what they were doing when they were 21, so what were you doing ? And what was life like for you?

When I was 21 I was married to my dance partner. We were aiming to be world champions and we were dancing professionally and lecturing all over the world.

Every year there is so much excitement when Strictly comes back on our screens, what keeps audiences coming back for more?

I think the injection of glitz and glamour lightens up audience’s living rooms. I think viewers love to follow the journey of our celebrities throughout their time on the show and they enjoy having their own opinions and thoughts on the dances.

What is the biggest joy from your job as a Strictly judge, and the biggest challenge?

The biggest joy is being a small part in the nations favourite show and sharing my knowledge and passion for dance. The biggest challenge is when I hear Anton vote differently to Craig and Motsi in the dance off and then the final say is down to me. It’s so heart breaking having to send anyone home.

If you could only dance, one kind of dance style for the rest of your life what would it be and why?

I think it has to be the rumba, as it’s the dance of love. It's fast, slow, sharp and soft – it’s got everything in there and it’s such a passionate dance.

Do you have one stand-out dance and/or celebrity dancer from last year’s Strictly Come Dancing?

It has got to be Hamza’s Salsa, what a surprise! The way he was flipping and throwing Jowita around like there’s no tomorrow, it was so impressive. I think that moment will go down in Strictly history.

If you could only pick one favourite performance from all your series so far, what would it be, and why?

I think it would have to be Kelvin Fletcher’s Samba with Oti in Week 1 in 2019. I really don’t know how it could be topped! He has this big smile on his face and his bright blue shirt. It was absolutely outstanding and also technically astonishing – definitely one to remember.

Strictly returned to Blackpool last year, after some time away, how was that, and does it make you excited to return this year?

It was amazing to return to Blackpool, the ballroom there is an iconic venue that holds a very special place in my heart. Being in Blackpool takes everything to a whole new level, it’s the home of ballroom dancing and the walls are steeped in history.

We have 19 brilliant pros for this series, how would you sum up their contribution towards the show making it what it is?

It’s really simple, we wouldn’t have a show without the marvellous professional dancers. They put their all into it and work so hard to bring out the best in their celebrity partners. They dedicate so much of their craft to the show and it pays off each and every series when we see the level of dancing improve. They are such a joy to watch.

Is there a song that will never fail to get you on the dancefloor at parties or weddings?

It has to be I'm Still Standing by Elton John. I just can’t resist a jive when I hear that song!

Finally is there anything you are particularly excited for this series?

To be back with my beautiful Judges and for all the laughs and smiles. I’m also really looking forward to fan-girling over Angela Rippon! She announced me during the UK championships many times during my competitive career so her voice brings back so many fond memories.

Strictly Come Dancing continues on Saturday 23 September at 6.15pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer

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