Joanne Clifton: Shirley Ballas is so technical that it can “put a downer” on Strictly Come Dancing

The former Strictly Come Dancing professional said that although she "loves" Len Goodman's replacement as Head Judge, Shirley can sometimes be too focussed on technique

Shirley Ballas

Shirley Ballas is so technical and critical with her feedback that it can put “a bit of a downer” on Strictly Come Dancing, according to Joanne Clifton.

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The former professional and 2016 winner told RadioTimes.com that although she “loves” Shirley, the new Head Judge can be so focussed on the celebrities’ dance technique that her comments can lack positivity.

“I love Shirley,” Joanne explained. “She used to teach me, she is a more than qualified judge and she is a great replacement for Len Goodman – although very different to Len.

“He did have that bit more positivity about him,” she continued, saying that she does “sometimes” miss the retired former Head Judge on the panel.

“If Gemma and Aljaž came out last year and did that Quickstep, Len would’ve got everybody in a great mood and gone, ‘What a way to start the show! What a cracker of a number!’ But Shirley is so focussed on technique, which is kind of a good thing. Kind of a good thing…

Joanne Clifton
Joanne Clifton (Getty)

“In some ways it’s amazing that Strictly’s got her because she is so technical,” continued Joanne. “But being so critical – and so technically critical – straight away with everybody, it just puts a little bit of a downer on the whole show.

“If the Head Judge is really technical, the others are sort of following suit a little bit: the judges have gone really technical, and that is a good thing. But they also have to motivate and be a bit more positive.

“But she does know her stuff,” concluded Joanne, “and many people will disagree with what I’m saying. But I just think she should balance it a little bit more with the knowledge of her technique.

“She probably is one of the most knowledgeable dancers in the ballroom world but it needs to be balanced a little bit with positivity and motivational stuff. And I’m not saying you have to undermark or overmark, it’s just the comments – don’t go so technical, also because people don’t understand unless it’s explained on It Takes Two. I thought Len was perfect at that – he gave the balance of knowing his stuff but at the same time it was really positive.”

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Strictly Come Dancing continues Saturday 9th December on BBC1