We have to hand it to the Strictly Come Dancing bosses: they knew what they were doing when they brought in Shirley Ballas to replace Len Goodman as judge. It was an inspired choice.
Shirley got her paddles out for the first time on Saturday’s live show – and the public finally had a chance to see her in action. What we saw was a judge who was excellent at encouragement and constructive in her criticism, getting over those launch show nerves and bonding with Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli and Darcey Bussell.
In a poll of more than 250 RadioTimes.com readers, 88% declared Shirley “FAB-U-LOUS darling” while just 12 percent said she was “not their cup of tea”.
Of course, even with all the press coverage of Len Goodman’s goodbye and the arrival of Shirley Ballas, perhaps not everyone got the memo before they turned on their TV…
But once viewers had adjusted to Shirley Ballas not being a 73-year-old bald man with a toothy grin, she was a hit.
Having promised to put the “strict” into Strictly and said she’ll be “tougher” than Len, there was a danger she’d go overboard with harsh comments. But in fact, she did nothing of the sort.
Instead she provided solid, constructive criticism without getting mean.
Len Goodman was missed, of course…
But at the end of the day? Thumbs up from the Great British Viewing Public.
And it seems Shirley herself had a ball in the ballroom…
Strictly Come Dancing returns on Saturday 30th September at 6.45pm on BBC1