Strictly judge Shirley Ballas reveals which celeb is a “contender” and gives verdict on line-up

Strictly's head judge has revealed her initial thoughts on this year's celebrity line-up.

Launch show

Head judge Shirley Ballas has made her predictions as to which Strictly Come Dancing 2020 contestants are bound to be “contenders”, and which shouldn’t be underestimated after Saturday’s first show.

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Speaking to The Sun, the Latin champion opened up about the Strictly come Dancing line-up after watching them perform in series 18’s first group number at the weekend, revealing BBC Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo could go far in the competition.

“Clara is an absolutely beautiful lady. She has such lovely posture, looks incredible and has lots and lots of potential,” she said. “In the brilliant hands of Aljaz [Skorjanec], she could be a contender.”

She also said that she was pleasantly surprised by comedian Bill Bailey‘s Ballroom skills, adding that she’s “interested to see him”.

“I turned to Craig and said, ‘He’s going to be our Ed Balls and the series is going to be a lot of fun’, and then he danced. He was rotating his hips, he was giving it some stick. And I thought, ‘Oh my Lord he is not only funny, he’s going to really give this a go.’ I wasn’t expecting that.”

She continued: “I was like, ‘That is actually amazing.’ I assumed Bill would be stiff and uncomfortable.”

As for those who she thinks are ones to watch, Ballas said that The Wanted’s Max George is “another one in the running” as musicality won’t be a problem for him, while singer HRVY “has the neck of a ballroom dancer”.

She added that ,although Eastenders’ Maisie Smith won Strictly’s Children in Need special last year, she shouldn’t “take anything for granted”.

“Doing one dancing is not like doing 10 weeks. You’ve got to be there and you’ve got to be full on and you’ve got to go the whole nine yards,” she said.

As for the other couples, Ballas said that she hopes “people will get behind” boxer Nicola Adams and professional Katya, who have made Strictly history as Strictly Come Dancing’s first same-sex couple, while actress Caroline Quentin has “got beautiful leg, gorgeous body, great posture” and Made in Chelsea’s Jamie Laing “looks like a man on a mission” after dropping out of last year’s shows due to an injury.

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Strictly kicked off its first show of series 18 on Saturday night, with hosts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman revealing the official celebrity-professional pairings during the socially-distanced evening.

Check out what else is on with our TV Guide, or take a look at our new TV shows 2020 page to find out what’s airing this autumn and beyond.