Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas backs same-sex dance couples

Strictly Come Dancing‘s new head judge Shirley Ballas has backed same-sex dance couples appearing on the show – after years of resistance from the show’s producers.

The show has faced calls to adapt its format to recognise same-sex dance pairings, which are increasingly common at major ballroom competitions.

The BBC has claimed that the “traditional format” of the show requires male-female dance pairings, but international versions of the dance reality show have already featured same-sex dance couples.

Ballas, who replaced long-serving head judge Len Goodman last year, was asked about the issue on Good Morning Britain on Thursday (May 17).

GMB host Susana Reid asked: “What about the first same-sex couple on Strictly? I understand that’s already been done elsewhere in the world [but not yet here].”

Ballas responded: “They’re just about to have the final of the Italian version of Strictly, and I was just informed that a same-sex couple, two men, made the final, so I will be following that.”

Shirley Ballas attends the Strictly Ballroom press night (Stuart C. Wilson/Getty)

She added: “I think, to each his own. I think it’s spectacular.

“I think things are changing, and I couldn’t think of anything more exciting. I’m for it!”

Italian celebrity Giovanni Ciacci has made it to final of Ballando con le stelle alongside male dancer Raimondo Todaro.

Ballas is the third judge to back the change.

Judge Craig Revel Horwood has long been a supporter of permitting same-sex dance couples on the show.

He said last year: “I think same-sex couples can exist. You only have to decide who’s going to go backwards really, that’s the only difference.

“I really hope [it happens]. In the world of competition there are same-sex couples … so there’s no reason why that can’t happen.”

He added: “The Beeb have to decide whether they want to do that one year. I think it will probably happen next year.

“If you consider the tango was originally danced between two men anyway … It’s powerful, explosive, and the same can happen between two women.”

Judges Craig Revel-Horwood, Darcey Bussell, Shirley Ballas and Bruno Tonioli (Getty)

Fellow judge Bruno Toniloi added: ”I think you’d have to find the right contestants, but absolutely. Two girls, two boys, why not? I think it would be fantastic.”

However former Strictly star James Jordan has claimed that it would be “wrong” to feature same-sex dance couples on the show.

He insisted: “It’s wrong. I think they would lose so many viewers.

“I have nothing against same-sex couples, if they want to go and do their own competitions.

“But ballroom and Latin dancing is about a man dancing with a woman – that’s fact.

“It annoys me that people like Craig can say this because he’s gay. That’s the only reason he’s pushing it.”

Adam Rippon, who is currently appearing on the US version of the show, Dancing with the Stars, has backed calls for a version of the show featuring same-sex dance couples.

He said: “I think that [same-sex dance pairings] would be awesome. Yeah, so cool.”

“I’ve actually gotten to dance with Val [Chmerkovskiy, a male dancer on the show] a little bit. Now that I have the skills, I’m going to literally dance with anybody and everything!”

He added: “When I dance with Val, he’s definitely showing me which direction to go, and when I dance with Jenna, I’m pretending I am ’cause she’s really leading me throughout the whole thing!”

Dancing with the Stars featured a same-sex dance routine as part of a one-off performance in 2016.