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Joanne Clifton: New Strictly judge Shirley Ballas will be "tougher" than Len Goodman

Former Strictly Come Dancing dancer Joanne Clifton tells what Shirley Ballas was like as a dance teacher - and how she'll compare to Len Goodman

Published: Saturday, 9th September 2017 at 9:00 am

New Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas will be "tougher than Len" but "not quite as nasty as Craig", according to ex Strictly pro dancer Joanne Clifton.


Shirley is a familiar face for the Clifton clan, as both Joanne and her pro dancer brother Kevin have experienced her feedback first hand.

"Me and Kevin had a few lessons [from Shirley] when we were kids. She is tough," Jo told "When she used to teach us as competitors, even as kids she was very tough.

"She wanted us to have enough energy, so she'd have us doing 10 or 20 jives in a row without stopping so that we were ready for Blackpool. She really worked us hard."

Strictly Come Dancing Judges Shirley Ballas

Viewers will finally see Shirley in action on the Strictly Come Dancing 2017 launch show on Saturday 9th September, although she won't be getting stuck in to proper judging until the first live show on the 23rd.

Can she measure up to Len Goodman?

"I think she's actually a perfect replacement," Joanne said. "She is tough and I know we've already got Craig as the tough one, but she won't be nasty. I don't think she will ever be nasty like Craig, I think she'll be very truthful.

"I reckon she's going to be tougher than Len, but not quite as nasty as Craig."

And apparently this new head judge will have Strictly contestants quaking in their boots.

Joanne predicted: "I think she's one that will have people going, 'Oh my god, I don't know if I can do this because oh my god - Shirley!'"


Joanne Clifton currently stars in Flashdance – The Musical in theatres across the UK. She will also keep a blog about Strictly Come Dancing 2017 for 


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