Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas has predicted Anton Du Beke will approach his new role on the panel with “kindness”.
The 55-year-old professional dancer, who filled in as a judge for a two-week stint during the 2020 series, will join Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Ballas full-time for the forthcoming series of the BBC One show.
He will take over from Bruno Tonioli, who remains unable to take part due to travel uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Tonioli lives and works in the US as a judge on the American version of Strictly, Dancing With The Stars.
Ballas suggested Du Beke would understand the pressures faced by the celebrity contestants after spending 18 series as a professional dance partner on the show.
She told Hello! magazine: “I think he will be just fabulous and I’m sure he’ll approach everything with kindness, because he’s been on the other end of that wagging finger.
“The public really loves him, and he’s worn his heart on his sleeve about wanting to be an adjudicator for so long, so I am really pleased for him.”
Ballas also praised one of this year’s celebrities, actor Greg Wise, who is dancing in memory of his sister Clare, who died of cancer in 2016.
She said: “I think anybody who dances from the heart is always more unique.
“It’s not always just about footwork, it is about that soul and performing in that honest, giving way, so that’s lovely to watch.”
Ballas spoke to Hello! to support Macmillan Cancer Support’s Coffee Morning fundraiser, urging fans to take part in the initiative on September 24.
“Nearly 98% of Macmillan funding comes directly from donations,” she said.
“I can only urge the public to host a coffee morning, as it will really help us deliver these services to people living with cancer who desperately need it right now and in the future.
“Every little bit counts; Macmillan is doing everything it can to support people with cancer so I think it’s important that we try to do our part, too.”
Read the full interview in Hello! magazine, out now.
Strictly Come Dancing will air from September 18 on BBC One.