Shirley Ballas was blown away by surprise couple

Strictly: Tony Adams tells Shirley Ballass to "go home"

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Shirley Ballas has heaped praise on Ellie Simmonds and Nikita Kuzmin ahead of Saturday night’s Strictly Come Dancing. The head judge lifted the lid on how the pair wowed her on the special 100 year BBC anniversary show.

The head judge has been under the spotlight this year for claims she is ‘softer’ on the male celebrity contestants, which has sparked backlash from some viewers.

However, Shirley has come out in support of Paralympian gold medallist Ellie and her professional partner Nikita, despite criticising the pair for adding an “illegal lift” into their routine last week.

When asked by Hello! magazine who has surprised her the most, she said: “I would say Nikita and Ellie because this week he just blew me away.

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As a professional dancer, Shirley earned the nickname Queen of Latin, so she is well equipped to give her views on the technical aspects of that style.

She added: “He did it on his knees, he took her from side to side… It was phenomenal to watch.

So I think she’s doing… they’re all doing amazing but I was very impressed with her this week.”

Nikita and Ellie impressed her, dancing to Montagues and Capulets, a composition by Prokofiev and the theme song of The Apprentice.

Despite her effusive praise on the dancing duo, Shirley actually docked them a point after their routine last Saturday.

Shirley issued a warning to Ellie and Nikita for their ‘illegal lift’ and explained the reason why.

She said: “I only have one small little complaint. “I’m so sorry. I have to deduct one point for an assisted lift at the beginning because that is not allowed.

“Other than that, you are absolutely phenomenal, well done.”

Analysing the rest of the performance she also remarked : “Your laser vision at the very, very beginning I could see that you were totally into this.”

“You brought a lovely sense of mood and I loved what you said in your VT about the Paso Doble not being about aggression.

“So I think you’ve got the balance just right today when you did your Paso Doble.

“I think you dug deep and you also found some beautiful moments today.”

This series of the BBC dance competition has seen the judge come under fire from viewers who’ve criticised her expert comments.

After a barrage of online abuse, Shirley called out some of the critical viewers to her 79,000 followers.

She then wrote: “I have received many apologies over the weekend regarding hurtful messages I’ve received on social media.

“All apologies are accepted and from now on let’s all respect each other and enjoy the show. Love to you all.” (sic)

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