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Strictly judge Shirley Ballas thinks Bill Bailey could be a surprise contender

Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas thinks Bill Bailey could prove to be a surprise contender on this year's series.

This year's launch show on Saturday saw the celebrities matched up with their professional dancers.

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And following their first group dance together, Shirley has revealed who she has her eye on.

In an interview with The Sun newspaper, Shirley tipped Bill Bailey - partnered with reigning professional winner Oti Mabuse - as one to watch.

She explained: “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.

“I was like, ‘That is actually amazing’. I assumed Bill would be quite stiff and uncomfortable. Some people look like they’re stuck in concrete. He looked like he could go. I’m interested to see him.”      

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Shirley also had a warning for current favourite to win, Maisie Smith.

EastEnders actress Maisie, partnered with Gorka Marquez, previously won the show's Children In Need special in 2019.

However Shirley said: “I know she won the special but if I was Maisie I wouldn’t take anything for granted because doing one dance is not like doing ten weeks.

Meanwhile, Shirley said she hoped viewers get behind the show's first ever same-sex couple Nicola Adams and Katya Jones.

Shirley enthused after their first dance: "Nicola didn’t look like she had a nervous bone in her body, and Katya is a seasoned pro. She obviously said I’d like to dance with a woman, the BBC have done it. I hope people will get behind them.

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Further couples on this year's show are JJ Chalmers and Amy Dowden, HRVY and Janette Manrara, Max George and Dianne Buswell, Jacqui Smith and Anton Du Beke, Ranvir Singh and Giovanni Pernice, Jason Bell and Luba Mushtuk, Caroline Quentin and Johannes Radebe, Jamie Laing and Karen Hauer and Clara Amfo and Aljaž Škorjanec

Strictly Come Dancing's live shows begin on BBC One on Saturday, October 24.