Strictly judge praises ‘brilliant’ pairings as couples are announced

Strictly: Tess Daley and Claudia Winkleman host the show

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Head judge Strictly Ballas, 62, assured viewers they would be “so excited” to see this year’s pairings. The Strictly Come Dancing star spoke about the new cast’s “amazing potential” in view of her 235,000 Instagram followers on Friday.

Shirley shared a series of photos where she looked glam for tonight’s big launch as she posed next to fellow judge Motsi Mabuse. 

She captioned the snaps: “And we’re off! Fasten your seatbelts and hold onto your hats for so much excitement over on @bbcstrictly 7pm series 20 this evening for the magnificent launch show. 

“You will be so excited when you see the pairings, in my opinion they are brilliant.

“The launch is one of the most exciting launches ever, be sure to tune in!

“Even the judges get to do a twirl which of course I loved lol,” Shirley added.

“The cast have so much potential it’s insane, what a tough job the judges have this year.”

Shirley then went on to thank the team behind her stunning look, which included a white sparkly number, accessorised with some large, glitzy, drop-down earrings. 

She then went on to tag fellow judges Motsi, Anton Du Beke and Craig Revel Horwood. 

“We are ready,” Shirley confirmed. “Let me know your thoughts after the launch.”

So far, a number of couples have been confirmed as Strictly’s extravagant launch show continues. 

First to be revealed were Paralympian champion Ellie Simmonds and Ukrainian professional Nikita Kuzmin, who joined the series just last year.

Ellie told host Tess Daly: “It means everything, to represent not just dwarfism but disability in general, for me to go out of my comfort zone and do something that I’ve never done before.

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“Dancing is for all, yes, I’m going to have to adapt, I’m going to have to see what it’s like, but to be out there every Saturday night dancing… I’m so so proud.”

Second to be announced was award-winning radio presenter and Kiss FM DJ Tyler West, who will be dancing with Australian professional Dianne Buswell.

Third up was former Hear’Say singer and Coronation Street star Kym Marsh, who was revealed to be dancing with Graziano Di Prima.

Next to be unveiled was Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps star Will Mellor, who was matched up with Nancy Xu.

Countryfile presenter Helen Skelton was next up, where it was revealed that she would be teamed up with fan favourite Gorka Marquez, who has been part of the show since 2016.

The sixth pairing announcement was EastEnders star James Bye and Welsh professional dancer Amy Dowden.

The soap actor said: “For me, coming into the unknown is what’s scary, I’ve got zero dance experience… and then I met my dance partner, and he/she was amazing and completely made me feel at ease.

“I’m so relieved and I couldn’t be happier, I feel like the winner already!” he added.

More Strictly couples continue to be announced on BBC One.

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