Motsi Mabuse is the vibrant spark Strictly Come Dancing needed

Sharp, funny and delivering rich and thoughtful criticism, Strictly’s new judge is the perfect addition to the show

Motsi Mabuse Strictly 2019 (BBC)

Strictly season is in full swing, with our 15 celebs finally taking to the floor for their debut dances.

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It’s been one of the most dramatic series yet, and that was before we’d even made it to the ballroom; Jamie Laing was forced to pull out, there’s been ballroom injuries – and we have a brand new judge.

Motsi Mabuse has sashayed her way to the Strictly panel after seven years on the German equivalent of the show, Let’s Dance.

All eyes were on the new judge for her very first show, having faced a barrage of totally unfair (and frankly offensive) criticism following the news she would be replacing ballet dancer Darcey Bussell.

Despite being a dance pro with decades of experience, and having previously judged sister Oti Mabuse, some people genuinely had the gall to wonder whether Motsi was only appointed because of the colour of her skin, while others were concerned she wouldn’t be able to judge the competition fairly.

But Motsi has well and truly silenced her critics, cementing her place on the judging panel to leave us struggling to remember a time when she wasn’t on the show.

With no signs of nerves or uncertainty, Motsi was vibrant and likeable from the moment she shimmied her way to her seat along with her fellow judges. With an infectious smile, the fun she was having was evident as she danced to the music alongside our celebs. It’s no wonder a BBC exec said hiring the pro for the show was a “no-brainer”.

Warm and witty, she’s the perfect antidote to Craig Revel Horwood’s now eye-rolling and predictable barbs, delivering fair and reasoned criticism that our celebs can actually learn from.

She was kind and encouraging to the incredibly wooden, stiff and visibly terrified James Cracknell (“You’re an athlete, don’t give up”) and cheeky and jocular with comedian Chris Ramsey (“Your body was a bit on holiday…but we’ll get there.”).

Kelvin Fletcher and Oti Mabuse
Kelvin Fletcher and Oti Mabuse

And yes, she may have given her sister the highest mark from week one – but her seriously sexy Samba with the saucy-hipped Kelvin Fletcher was more than deserving of the top score, and Motsi’s eight was not out of place, considering the other three judges also thought it was worthy of that score.

With Strictly having been on our screens for 15 years and having consistently had exactly the same format throughout that time, it needs something to keep it fresh, warm and exciting in the Saturday night ratings war – and Motsi Mabuse may just be their secret weapon.

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Strictly Come Dancing continues Saturdays on BBC One