The new season of Strictly Come Dancing hasn't kicked off yet, but new judge Motsi Mabuse has already asked fans of the show to forgive her. The apology comes after it was revealed that the former South African dance champion, 38, criticised Blackpool in her autobiography, calling the Lancashire seaside town "the ugliest that I had ever seen." Blackpool is hugely important to Strictly, being the site of one of its biggest and most spectacular shows every year. But Motsi explained that her opinion was committed to paper a long time ago and was the result of culture shock.
Strictly has been on British screens since 2004
She told The Sun: “Oh come on guys, give a girl a break! It was 20 years ago, I was young and innocent." She went on: "Blackpool is absolutely huge in Strictly but when you come from South Africa and you have your first impressions and you arrive in Blackpool, well, it’s different." She also assured locals that regardless of what she first thought of the time, she respects the town's dance history, adding: "But what I’ll also say, if you walk into the ballroom it’s absolutely spectacular."
Motsi is a South African dance champion
She also added that she is eager to return, saying: "I’m looking forward to going back to Blackpool because there are such strong memories in my head…Blackpool was where I was being seen for my talent." Motsi, the sister of Strictly dancer Oti Mabuse, is also a judge on the German version of the show and will commute between London and her base in Cologne throughout the show's run.
She is replacing former prima ballerina Darcey Bussell and will be on the panel alongside regulars Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood and head judge Shirley Ballas. The judges met as a group for the first time on Tuesday as part of the show's red carpet launch ahead of the 17th season next month. This time around, contestants will include Olympic rower James Cracknell, TV presenter Anneka Rice, and Emma Thynn, Viscountess Weymouth.
Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.