Strictly's Shirley Ballas shares contestant she's "fan-girling" over

strictly come dancing judges and pros in 2023 launch show
Strictly's Shirley "fan-girling" over contestantBBC

Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas has admitted she will be "fan-girling" over one celebrity contestant when the live shows begin this weekend.

Shirley is back at the judges' table this series alongside Anton Du Beke, Motsi Mabuse and Craig Revel Horwood where she'll be giving all of the pairings some tough love at times.

However, Shirley revealed that she's already excited to see Angela Rippon on the dance floor with pro partner Kai Widdrington, given Rippon's connection to Strictly's predecessor Come Dancing.

"I'm also really looking forward to fan-girling over Angela Rippon," she said. "She announced me during the UK championships many times during my competitive career so her voice brings back so many fond memories."

angela rippon, strictly come dancing 2023

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Rippon was one of the presenters of the original Come Dancing series, though the journalist recently insisted she won't have an edge over the other competitors.

"I presented Come Dancing, I didn't dance in Come Dancing," she told Digital Spy and other media.

"But I'm very fortunate I've been around dancers for a very long time and doing Come Dancing, I was chairman of the English National Ballet for four years – I've been around dancers. So I know what's required and I did go to ballet class until I was about 17."

Shirley Ballas had previously defended this year's crop of celebrities over fans complaining that some had experience in different genres of dance.

craig revel horwood, shirley ballas, motsi mabuse, anton du beke, strictly come dancing 2023
Ray Burmiston - BBC

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"I think it's very unfair at this point to single out anybody, because most children had a little bit of training," she told The Mirror.

"If somebody goes to stage school for singing and acting, there's always normally a little bit of dance included. It might not be their forte. It's nothing like learning ballroom dancing. It's a total discipline all of its own."

Strictly Come Dancing airs on Saturday nights on BBC One, while spin-off Strictly: It Takes Two airs on weeknights from September 25 on BBC Two. Both shows are available to stream on BBC iPlayer.

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