Shirley Ballas addresses criticism of Strictly outfit as she’s likened to Muppet

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Strictly Come Dancing’s head judge Shirley Ballas has questioned whether she really did look like Big Bird on Saturday night after many compared her to the iconic Muppet character.

For the launch of the new series, Shirley, 63, returned to her judging seat alongside Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Anton Du Beke as viewers learnt of this year’s celebrity and professional dancer pairings.

On the night, the head judge certainly couldn’t be missed, sporting a bright yellow dress which featured exaggerated feathery sleeves on both sides.

Shirley’s choice of outfit was swiftly a talking point on social media, as many likened her to The Muppets’ Big Bird.

The head judge has now broken her silence about the comparison, revealing she found the comments humourous.

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Taking to Twitter, the dancer shared a picture of Big Bird’s head photoshopped onto her dress in the Strictly studio, writing: “Did I really look like Big Bird?… Lol #funny.”

On the evening, Twitter user @corby_tun wrote: “#Strictly Has Shirley been inspired by Big Bird?”

LucyDBLanguage asked: “Who wore it better? Shirley or Big Bird? #Strictly.”

Ariadne_Reviews typed: “Big Bird was quite the surprise signing for this year. #scd #strictly.”

Charis Scott-Holm penned: “Strong Big Bird vibes from Shirley this year #Strictly.”

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Others rated her look, with @purlyqueen writing: “She looks great,” and @john__eldon adding: “I can’t decide whether I want to be Motsi or Shirley. #Strictly #StrictlyComeDancing #Strictly2023.”

Elsewhere on the night, Shirley also showcased her dance moves alongside the show’s pros and her fellow judges.

Viewers also finally got to find out which celebrities and pros were dancing together ahead of the first live show this weekend.

Pairings taking to the dance floor are; Adam Thomas and Luba Mushtuk, Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice, Angela Scanlon and Carlos Gu, Angela Rippon and Kai Widdrington, Annabel Croft and Johannes Radebe, Bobby Brazier and Dianne Buswell, Eddie Kadi and Karen Hauer, Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola, Jody Cundy and Jowita Przystał, Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Lauren Oakley, Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin, Les Dennis and Nancy Xu, Nigel Harman and Katya Jones, Nikita Kanda and Gorka Márquez and Zara McDermott and Graziano Di Prima.

Of this year’s oldest contestant Angela, Shirley told the BBC: “I’m also really looking forward to fangirling over Angela Rippon!

“She announced me during the UK championships many times during my competitive career so her voice brings back so many fond memories.”

Discussing the biggest joy in her job, she added: “The biggest joy is being a small part in the nations favourite show and sharing my knowledge and passion for dance.

“The biggest challenge is when I hear Anton vote differently to Craig and Motsi in the dance off and then the final say is down to me. It’s so heartbreaking having to send anyone home.”

Strictly Come Dancing airs on Saturday at 6.15pm on BBC One.

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