Strictly Come Dancing Head Judge Shirley Ballas talks dances, injuries and this week’s shock exit
Strictly fans were stunned on Sunday when Coronation Street star Catherine Tyldesley was sent home from the show. It was the first time this series that the judges had been divided over a decision, although HELLO! ‘s exclusive columnist, Head Judge Shirley Ballas , says that for her, the choice wasn’t difficult. Read on to find out what else she thought about this week – from costume difficulties to two performance-challenging injuries, as well as her own health concerns…
Well, it was a dramatic results show this week! Of course, Catherine was disappointed but the routine just didn’t come together and in the dance-off, there were a few little stumbles. I love her, but Mike came out with the eye of the tiger, and he made no mistakes. The judges couldn’t agree who should go so I had to step in. For me, it was clear that Mike should stay and Craig was with me, but everybody has their opinion and that’s why we have four judges. We have degrees of technical ability, and Catherine had beginner to intermediate steps whereas Mike had more advanced steps and I felt he pushed the envelope a bit. We’re used to him being a bit of a joker and he’s game for a laugh, but he does take it very seriously, especially having been in the bottom two before. With Catherine, the quality of the movement wasn’t so great and the steps were more basic.
I’m expecting some flak for sending her home but if people wanted her to stay, why was she in the bottom two? She certainly didn’t have the lowest mark. If I had to look in my crystal ball, I’d say the top of the leaderboard is going to change week by week – just because you can do one dance doesn’t mean you can do another, so the public vote is going to be a huge part of who goes home. I thought Chris and Karen could have been in the dance-off but they went through because the public voted. There’s a chance for any couple to go all the way because IF THE WHOLE COUNTRY WANTS SOMEBODY IN THE FINAL THAT COUPLE WILL MAKE THE FINAL.
I got my ten out again for Michelle this week because everything came together for her Addams Family performance. She had great music, she had the look, Giovanni looked like Gomez, they had all the cute details from the show but also the dancing ticked so many boxes. Of course, a lot of it is hard work but it’s also the luck of the draw and sometimes you get something that really suits you and it was divine to watch.
I’ll never say I’m disappointed with anyone who gives 100% which I think Karim does, but it definitely was not his strongest dance. The Paso Doble is known for the bullfight and if you study the matador there are a lot of quiet moments. This missed the mark a little because if he’d slowed down and taken a breath he could have showed control over his body instead of running from step to step like he was in a marathon! It didn’t matter that the music wasn’t traditional because if everybody did Paso Doble to Spanish Gypsy dance music it would be boring. But it’s a proud dance, it’s about strong walks and that powerful serene posture and I just didn’t see that.
I feel like Emma Barton sometimes hits it and sometimes she doesn’t. Her Tango had a beautiful circular stalking walk that was quite intricate but there were also a few mistakes. I still would like to see more drama and more passion – not in her face, but in her body. She’s dancing with a magnificent ballroom dancer in Anton, and she needs to take in as much information as she can from him and raise her game a bit. Emma Weymouth has really started to come out of her shell, from someone who was very reserved to someone who is letting go of her inhibitions and really starting to blossom.
One thing that was disappointing on Saturday night was the injuries, and everyone was concerned about Will. I heard from Janette that his Jive was going to be off the charts. He really wanted to push boundaries, jump off tables and spin, but once a doctor says you can’t dance, you can’t dance. With Neil, everything seemed to be going well in rehearsals, but then he injured himself, so Kevin had to learn that routine in 45 minutes. I loved his little speech at the end because it was clear to me that it was Kevin who made the mistakes, not Alex. She looked secure in what she was doing and she was shouting, ‘Kevin, left leg! Right arm!’ The mental stability to lose your partner at the last minute and go out and perform… She’s obviously an athlete and she’s in it to win it.
We even had drama with our hair, I was struggling with that blue wig and Motsi’s wig came off in rehearsal, there was a lot of hustle and bustle. A costume themed week adds another layer of difficulty and I have to say congratulations to the wardrobe, makeup and hair team, they really pulled it off.
I’m hoping this week will go smoothly as I’m set to have my breast implants removed on Tuesday and planning to be back on the show on Saturday. I realised when I did Who Do You Think You Are? that there’s a cancer gene running through our family and when I went for a mammogram one of the nurses told me, ‘Do you realise we can never really see behind the back of an implant?’ I’ve also had side effects like tiredness and the implants are heavy, uncomfortable, and sometimes painful. They take out the implant and the capsule of scar tissue that builds up around it so that can take a while, probably between three and four hours.
My boyfriend Danny will take me to the hospital on Tuesday and my mum will be there when I wake up. If anybody can get me up and running, it’ll be my mother! The BBC has been absolutely fantastic and very concerned for my health and I also talked about it with my team. My stylist Alexandra has already picked out some nice comfortable clothes and Jane who does my hair and make-up can style a wig for me and do my makeup lying down, so I don’t have to sit in the chair for long. I’m nervous for the operation but I’m going in with a strong mind and I want to do this for anybody who has suffered with breast implants. I’m not a person who misses work, so short of dying or puncturing a lung, I’ll do everything I can to be there on Saturday.
Come back next week to see how Shirley feels about the weekend’s performances…
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