The 15 stars taking to the ‘Strictly’ dance floor have now been confirmed, but some viewers have branded this year’s line-up the “worst ever”, with many taking to social media to bemoan the lack of big name signings for the new series, which is set to kick off next month.
During an appearance on Wednesday’s ‘Loose Women’, Shirley defended the 2018 line-up, insisting everyone should “give them a chance”.
She said: “First of all, I don’t think the BBC ever get it wrong. That’s just my feeling. They gave me a chance last year [as Head Judge] and I got a lot of abuse online and people didn’t even know me or give me half a chance.
“This year is completely different. I feel embraced, I feel loved. This is exactly what’s going to happen with this - I believe - diverse panel of beautiful people, all with a story. You’ve got a paraplegic Olympian… it’s just going to be fantastic. People need to give it a chance. Everybody has their opinions but, you know, they’re just opinions at the end of the day.”
She added: “It has to be a mixture of people and, at the end of the day, people will watch it, they’ll judge for themselves. Give these stars a chance and I know that, as with every year, with ratings, people love to tune in, and this is going to be a great panel of people.”
Some viewers have also been critical of the signing of Pussycat Dolls star Ashley Roberts and Steps singer Faye Tozer because of their previous dance experience, but Shirley insisted it won’t give them an advantage.
“Just because you can bop from foot to foot, it doesn’t mean you can quickstep with another person in front of you, in frame, four arms, four legs, keeping your head to the left… it doesn’t mean that you can do that,” she explained. “It’s a completely different story when it comes to ballroom or Latin.
“Everybody’s done a little bit of dancing at some point during their careers I’m sure. I think again everybody should give everybody a chance. You can’t have anybody who can’t dance. Even if they’ve got a little comedy, they’re still good at their comedy. They come down in clouds, they roll in on bicycles… they’re there to entertain and we sit with our family on those cold winter nights, we have our takeaway, the whole family enjoys it.”
Shirley also responded to comments made by TV’s Dr Ranj, who said he wanted to have a male dance partner.
“I think he’s happy with whatever choice he’s given,” Shirley said. “I think everything in its good time. I wouldn’t be opposed to him dancing with another man.
“We have same sex competitions in my industry. It’s movement to music at the end of the day. When I’m teaching a lecture, I have the little girls do the boys part, the little boys do the girls part so they understand about lead and follow and what to expect. It’s two human beings that are moving to music at the end of the day, you’re judging the talent.”
She continued: “In the British Championship this year we had two ladies, they did amazingly well […] just sat back and had to admire their footwork. They were accepted and they did the most marvellous job.”
This year’s ‘Strictly’ stars are...
Katie Piper - Presenter and campaigner
Faye Tozer - Steps singer
Danny John-Jules - actor
Vick Hope - Capital Radio presenter
Graeme Swann - Cricketer
Dr Ranj - TV doctor
Joe Sugg - YouTube star
Stacey Dooley - Documentary presenter
Kate Silverton - BBC Newsreader
Sean Walsh - Comedian
Ashley Roberts - Pussycat Dolls star
Lee Ryan - Blue singer
Lauren Steadman - Paralympian
Susannah Constantine - Presenter and fashion writer
Charles Venn - Actor