Shirley Ballas Has A Warning For The Early Strictly Come Dancing Favourite

Ash Percival
·Entertainment Editor, HuffPost UK
·2-min read

Strictly Come Dancing’s head judge Shirley Ballas has given a warning to contestant Maisie Smith after emerging as this year’s early favourite.

The EastEnders star and her partner Gorka Marquez have been marked out as ones to watch with bookies and viewers alike, after Maisie won last year’s Strictly Children In Need special.

However, Shirley has told Maisie that she should not think that having previous experience on the BBC ballroom show will count for anything in this year’s competition.

Shirley Ballas (Photo: BBC/Guy Levy)
Shirley Ballas (Photo: BBC/Guy Levy)

In an interview with The Sun, she said: “I know she won the special but if I was Maisie I wouldn’t take anything for granted because doing one dance is not like doing ten weeks.

“You’ve got to be there and you’ve got to be full on and you’ve got to go the whole nine yards.”

She added: “You could see the competitive spirit, you could feel it. These people all look like they were at the starting block, ready to move forward.”

Gorka Marquez and Maisie Smith (Photo: BBC/Guy Levy)
Gorka Marquez and Maisie Smith (Photo: BBC/Guy Levy)

Shirley also said viewers should keep their eye on comedian Bill Bailey – who is partnered with last year’s winning pro Oti Mabuse – in the coming weeks, after impressing her with his moves during the group dance on Saturday’s launch show.

Admitting she’d initially pegged him as “this year’s Ed Balls”, she changed her mind after seeing him dance.

“He was rotating his hips, he was giving it some stick,” she said.

Oti Mabuse and Bill Bailey (Photo: BBC/Guy Levy)
Oti Mabuse and Bill Bailey (Photo: BBC/Guy Levy)

This year’s Strictly stars are currently rehearsing with their partners ahead of this week’s first live show.

Saturday’s launch episode introduced us to the 12-strong line-up, and saw the celebrities meet their partners for the first time.

There was also a number of notable changes to fit in with coronavirus guidelines, including a socially distanced audience, individual judges’ desks and pre-recorded routines from the professional dancers.

Strictly Come Dancing continues on Saturday at 7.25pm on BBC One.


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This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.