Shirley Ballas has admitted she’s already “fangirling” over one of this year’s Strictly Come Dancing contestants.
The award-winning BBC dance show returned for its 21st series over the weekend, with the first live show of the new season set to air on Saturday night.
Ahead of the 15 couples making their dance floor debuts, Shirley spoke to OK! magazine about what she was most “excited for this series”, and named one star in particular.
“[I’m] really looking forward to fangirling over Angela Rippon!” the Head Judge revealed. “She announced me during the UK championships many times during my competitive career so her voice brings back so many fond memories.”
Shirley recently told The One Show she had an “itty-bitty soft spot” for the former newsreader.
“We have history because she used to be the announcer on Come Dancing and the United Kingdom championships and I admired from a distance and she just talked so elegantly,” Shirley recalled.
“Her poise was just absolutely immaculate when she walked down the stairs. I believe she’s almost 80 so I’m hoping that she really shows us all the things that she can do.”
As well as her work on Come Dancing, Angela previously competed on Dancing On Ice and Let’s Dance For Comic Relief, and famously showed off her moves in 1976, when she appeared in a now-iconic sketch with comedy duo Morecambe and Wise.
During Saturday night’s pre-recorded launch show, viewers discovered that Angela – who, at 79 years old, is Strictly’s oldest ever contestant – has been paired up with Kai Widdrington.
Kai joined Strictly in 2021, after four years performing on the Irish version of Dancing With The Stars, and in that time has previously been partnered with TV presenters AJ Odudu and Kaye Adams.
Strictly Come Dancing returns on Saturday night at 6.15pm on BBC One.