Shirley Ballas says Angela Rippon’s speed on Strictly puts her to shame

Shirley Ballas has said Angela Rippon’s speed when running up the Strictly Come Dancing staircase puts her to “shame”.

Veteran broadcaster Rippon, who turned 79 this month, has been impressing the judges and viewers with her ability since the latest series launched in September.

She kicked off her time on the show in week one with an impressive high leg raise during her cha cha with her dance partner Kai Widdrington.

Rippon has continued to receive praise in the show, with her latest Argentine tango on Saturday featuring quick footwork and another high kick.

Strictly Come Dancing 2023
Kai Widdrington and Angela Rippon during the live show on Saturday for BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

After the performance to Tanguera by Sexteto Mayor, head judge Ballas noted Rippon’s sensuality and chemistry with Widdrington.

Appearing on BBC Breakfast on Monday, Ballas, 63, said: “Angela Rippon running up those stairs at 100 miles an hour puts me to shame.”

She added that it was even more impressive as Rippon was doing so in heels, joking: “I feel like I need to chase after her”.

Rippon, who is show’s oldest contestant, previously explained that she does not want her age to become “a factor” in what she is doing, but said she wears it as a “badge of honour”.

“If it’s something that encourages people to think more positively about themselves as they get older, then I think that’s probably a good thing, but personally in my head, I’ve been 30 for the last 40 years,” she added.

Saturday’s show also saw actor Layton Williams wow the judges once again, this time with a high-energy salsa featuring lifts.

The Bad Education star, 29, and professional Nikita Kuzmin, received a total score of 39 points, which presenter Claudia Winkleman announced has not happened in week five for 13 years.

Reflecting on the talent this year, Ballas said: “Magic is in the mix, and the BBC got the mix right for sure.

“Every week now it’s going to be difficult sending anybody home.”

Comedian Eddie Kadi became the fourth celebrity to be eliminated from the competition after he faced the dreaded dance-off against Love Island star Zara McDermott.

Ballas has also recently published her first crime novel, Murder On The Dance Floor, which follows a dance-detective duo as they uncover the truth after a promising young performer dies in mysterious circumstances during Blackpool Tower Ballroom’s dance festival.

The book, which she has co-written with Sheila McClure, is based on experiences Ballas had during her time in the dance industry.

The dancer said: “Everybody looks at the ballroom dancing industry like baubles, bangles and beads but actually, there’s a little bit more of a sinister side.

“And when I wrote my autobiography, I couldn’t fit stories in, so my mum thought ‘Wouldn’t it be great if you write something fun for people running up to Christmas and those dark nights they can get into the book’.”

She added that readers will have to guess who the murderer is, and which parts of it are inspired by real life and what is fictional.