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Strictly judge Shirley Ballas admits ‘I have a history’ with celebrity in 2023 series

Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas has admitted she ‘has a history’ with one of the celebrity dancers competing in the 2023 series of the hit BBC show.

Shirley, aged 63, has been married twice, first to Sammy Stopford and then to second husband Corky Ballas, with whom she had a child, before their divorce in 2007.

Today, Shirley Ballas took a seat on the BBC One Show sofa to discuss the new series of the premier dance contest following the launch show on Saturday which saw the celebrity lineup and the couples officially unveiled.

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There, presenter Alex Jones quizzed her about the new lineup and cast and asked her if she had any favourites.

Shirley replied: “I’m not gonna name three or four because there’s a tremendous amount of journeys in there but I do have an itty bitty – I know we shouldn’t but – an itty bitty soft spot for Angela Rippon.”

She then went on to add that she ‘has a history’ with her because she used to work on Strictly’s predecessor show, Come Dancing.

Angela Rippon is dancing with Kai Widdrington in the 2023 series
Angela Rippon is dancing with Kai Widdrington in the 2023 series
(Image: BBC)

Shirley told Alex: “I have a history because she used to be the announcer on Come Dancing and the United Kingdom Championships and I admired her from a distance and she talks so elegantly, she holds her poise was just absolutely immaculate when she walked down the stairs. She’s almost 80 so I’m really hoping she shows us all a thing or two that she can do. Fabulous already.”

Shirley also talked about how she ‘didn’t make any notes’ after the group dance which involved the 2023 celebrity cast because ‘nobody made any mistakes’.

Ballas has been head judge on the series since taking over from Len Goodman in 2017 and was a dancer herself from the age of 7 before retiring and going into teaching in Latin American competitions in 1996.

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