Shirley Ballas explains why she would have saved Max George on Strictly Come Dancing

The head judge has qualified her controversial comment in Sunday's results show.

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The head judge of BBC One celebrity dance show Strictly Come Dancing, Shirley Ballas, was moved to explain why she said she would have saved Max George in Sunday’s dance-off, sparking some controversy with fans who thought Maisie Smith was the superior dancer.

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She explained that just a “hair separated them” but reiterated that she would have voted to save Max had fellow judges Craig Revel Horwood and stand-in Anton du Beke not both voted to save Maisie.

Shirley explained on It Takes Two: “Well first of all, both Maisie and Max lifted their game. They’re both tremendously fabulous dancers. But on that dance-off I just thought that Max’s quality, how he was lowering his footwork, was just that little bit in front of Maisie.

“But both of them… I mean, it was just a hair that separated them for me. But yes I really enjoyed Max.”

Watching from home while self-isolating from an urgent trip home to Germany, regular judge Motsi Mabuse said she might have also voted for Max.

Motsi said: “I’m stuck here, I’m almost like Shirley, watching from the outside, maybe I might have saved Max. But you cannot see from the TV screen as well as you can sitting there and being a judge.”

Unfortunately for Max she wasn’t able to vote, so The Wanted star exited the show in week four.

Shirley was full of praise for stand-in judge Anton, a huge fans favourite with massive support from RadioTimes.com readers to become a permanent member of the panel.

Shirley said of Anton: “I had the King of Ballroom, Mr Charming [beside me]. I’ve known Anton all my ballroom dancing career and he was like a gift for Christmas, like a little puppy dog, he was so excited and we were all just … off his energy. I thought he did an amazing job.”

To sum him up? “Well behaved, very constructive, very precise, adorable,” she said.

Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC One on Saturday 21st November. Maisie and professional partner Gorka Marquez will be dancing a salsa to Better When I’m Dancing by Meghan Trainor.

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