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Strictly's Shirley Ballas: The competition has begun and it was right to send James home

The Strictly Come Dancing head judge shares her week two opinions...

shirley ballas strictly speaking
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Last night was the first Strictly elimination night - and what a night it was. With James Cracknell being unanimously voted the first celebrity to leave Strictly Come Dancing, the rest of the couples were able to breathe a huge sigh of relief. As usual, head judge and HELLO!'s columnist Shirley Ballas has exclusively shared her thoughts on the outcome of the second live show - and this time she's in no doubt as to why the rower was the right person to go home.

Find out what Shirley had to say after the elimination below, and read on to see what else has been going on behind-the-scenes at Strictly this week.


It was pretty close between James and Luba and David and Nadiya. I think the viewers got it right with those two being in the bottom two. I actually went into the dance-off thinking I would save James and he would be safe. But by the dance-off, David really took the judges' critique on- he went for it and it saved him. It was a unanimous decision.

I was relieved that everyone agreed and the final vote didn't come to me. I do find it hard sending someone home. I don't think people understand I find it difficult but I really do, because everyone has worked hard and they don't want to leave.

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James was good too but he struggled with the musicality. I felt sorry for James as I knew he didn't want to go but somebody has to be first.

james cracknell leaving strictly© Photo: BBC

Looking back over the week, it's been a big one for me, as I opened up to Hello! about the decision to have my implants removed. I've had a great response from everyone which I really appreciate. I decided to go public as I knew people were going to notice it on the show so rather than having lots of speculation I just wanted to come out and talk about it. I wanted to share my experience and be open about it - I also hope that my decision to talk about it will help people also going through something similar.

I'm hopeful I won't have to miss a show but I will need to see how the operation goes. I'm reading up on everything now and it's going to be pretty intense but mentally I’ve geared myself up for being on the show. I am pretty tough but we will have to see how I get on afterwards.

READ: Shirley Ballas opens the doors of her London home in exclusive photoshoot

As for the competition, there's a definite feeling that things have really begun now that we’ve had our first dance off. The first week everyone was really happy but now you can feel the competitiveness - nobody wants to go home. The energy from everyone was overwhelmingly magnificent. Sometimes the second week can feel flat compared to the excitement of the first but this year it wasn't like that at all.

Motsi and I are just getting on better and better each week. We are from the same world and I think we are really bouncing off each other now. I understand what she's talking about and vice versa and we don’t duplicate each other's comments.

motsi and shiley judging© Photo: BBC

We've all been thinking about the bottom two since Saturday night but for me the most improved performance has to be Chris and Karen. I think Chris has potential. The Charleston is a difficult dance and quite a few times he wasn't facing Karen as he was behind her. This meant he couldn't see her to count him in, so he really had to stand on his on two feet.

He doesn't like to perform but I think he will go from ordinary to extraordinary. He wasn't even on my radar last week. For me he went from a three to a six- doubling your score is pretty unheard of so it was a huge improvement. Although I will also add that Will was very good too.

He shared with us how he doesn't have control over his feet. If you have a good performance element then it's not always about the technique.

chris and karen strictly week 2© Photo: BBC

Without a doubt the funniest performance came from Mike and Katya. I've nicknamed him Magic Mike although hope he keeps his yellow outfit on! It was supposed to be an American Smooth with a foxtrot but he came out in that rhinestone cowboy outfit - amazing!

There was a little bit of foxtrot but I don't really know what he was dancing to. It was like a Country and Western line dance. But despite that, it was very funny. He actually looked in pain at some points. He tries hard and wants to be technical but he is a fun person and we need that in the show.

katya and mike strictly week 2© Photo: BBC

I think there were two best performances of the night on Saturday: Michelle and Giovanni and Karim and Amy. I think we could see a battle there between those two to try and make the final. Michelle did well in Latin and Ballroom. She can switch easily. I watched her backstage and she’s very concentrated. She's not back there messing around. She's is in her own world and really working. She's honing in on the zone. Karim is competitive but he's very sweet. He's got this lovable charm.

MORE: The FULL Strictly Come Dancing 2019 line-up

I would have to say Kelvin is the most competitive celeb we have actually. I don't know him but from what I see in the dance floor, he wants to win. He definitely wasn't as comfortable doing ballroom. He's a very muscular man so he struggles holding himself up straight. He takes the competition very seriously but I hope he will continue to enjoy the process as well. He is more prone to the Latin but still did very well this week.

kelvin oti week two© Photo: BBC

And for our most relieved contestants - I'd definitely have to say Anneka and Kevin. Anneka's face was a picture when she got through! She clearly didn't expect it. She was so grateful. It was rather sweet. There are some people who feel entitled and she doesn’t. And she really was much better than last week.

Who's got the best chemistry? Definitely AJ and Saffron. AJ is world-renowned and he understands how important it is to have that relationship with a partner. I felt that kiss at the end - their chemistry is very strong - it's a great working relationship and they clearly get on extremely well. It's definitely there though, the chemistry.

aj and saffron strictly week 2© Photo: BBC

Of course after what happened on Sunday night, this week is going to be hard for David. Going forward I hope he gets a grip on it all. His face when he was in the bottom two - I think he was quite surprised he was there so from experience I expect him to either pack it in or give it his best shot. He can't just go out and go through the motions. He's learnt a lot about energy this week so let’s see next week if he's taken it on board. It's not guaranteed he will be in the bottom two again, we'll just have to see how he gets on.

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