Strictly Come Dancing 2018: Shirley Ballas has been “verbally asked” to return as Head Judge – but hasn’t yet signed contract

The BBC Strictly judge says that while she would be "delighted" to return, the decision has not yet been finalised

Shirley Ballas, RT shoot, BD

Strictly Come Dancing’s Shirley Ballas has said that she has been “verbally asked” to return as Head Judge for 2018 – but she still hasn’t been given a contract.

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Speaking on ITV’s Loose Women, the star explained that while she has had discussions about her role, the BBC has yet to confirm her future on the hit show.

“I’ve been verbally asked but as of yet I haven’t had a contract, but of course I would be highly delighted to go back on that most fabulous show. I had the time of my life,” she said.

While the judging line-up has yet to be confirmed for the new series, Ballas has repeatedly expressed her desire to return.

He Strictly co-stars have also backed her to appear in a second series, with presenter Tess Daly saying at the National Television Awards, “Oh we love you Shirley,” Daly told her. “We want you! We want you back! You heard it here first – she’s back. It’s official.”

Ballas also expressed her hope for pay equality in the new series, saying that while she did not expect to be paid the same as previous judge Len Goodman during her first series, she expects the BBC to be “very fair” when it comes to pay in 2018.

“I do believe if a woman is doing the same job as a man then everybody should be on equal pay. But I do also understand that my first time on Strictly was like a trial so to speak,” she said. “You’ve got to see that you can do the job, so I felt that everybody was really happy and I’m sure that they will be more than fair.”

Asked whether she was expecting a pay rise for her second series, Ballas replied, “I have absolutely no idea yet but I do believe they will be very fair.”

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Ballas also denied reports that she fell out with former professional dancer Brendan Cole during the last series: “I never had a spat with Brendan Cole I want to make that clear. I never had a spat with Brendan Cole. I didn’t. I just gave my critique and people decide which way they’re going to take it. I did everything from a good place and I just wanted Charlotte [Hawkins, Cole’s celebrity partner] to improve her performance.”