Strictly Come Dancing's Shirley Ballas issues word of warning to EastEnders' Maisie Smith

Shirley Ballas has warned Maisie Smith to not get ahead of herself after the EastEnders actress won the Children in Need special last year.

The Strictly Come Dancing head judge weighed in on Saturday night's launch show, which saw all twelve celebrity contestants - including Maisie - take to the dance floor for the very first time.

And, after fans noticed just how confident 19-year-old Maisie was on Saturday night, Shirley has warned her not to get complacent, just because she won the Strictly Come Dancing Children in Need special last year.

Speaking to The Sun, Shirley said, “I know she won the special but if I was Maisie I wouldn’t take anything for granted because doing one dance is not like doing ten weeks.

"You’ve got to be there and you’ve got to be full on and you’ve got to go the whole nine yards."

As well as Maisie, Shirley revealed there were plenty of other front runners in the pack and anticipates it's going to be an excellent series.

“You could see the competitive spirit, you could feel it. These people all look like they were at the starting block, ready to move forward.”

This year's launch show drew in a whopping 8.6 million viewers - the highest audience in three years.

And it's no surprise given what a turbulent year everyone has had due to the covid-19 pandemic. Strictly feels like just the tonic we all need.

But, this year's series will be slightly different in order to comply with regulations surrounding the global pandemic.

For the first time in 16 years the show will be filmed with little to no audience and minimal backstage staff to keep risk of infection at a low. But insiders are concerned that this will have an impact on the atmosphere.

"The current plan is no audience, which will inevitably affect the show,” a source told The Sun. “They are the energy in the room, and dancing in an empty room is like dancing in a training room. It’s a different intensity and pressure.

“But Elstree is a very cosy set-up, where it will be impossible to safely socially distance audience members. So for now, with the current rules, it’s a ‘no’ to anyone watching.”

And, in a bid to keep numbers to a minimum, celebrity entourages are being banned. Which means judges, Craig Revel Horwood, Shirley Ballas and Motsi Mabuse will have a scaled-back team.

“There will be no entourages for the judges, no agents hanging around, no friends or family members, no hair and make-up people waiting on them hand and foot.”

Georgia Farquharson

Georgia writes across Woman & Home and Good to Know and specialises in all things royal. Previously labelled the "Queen of the royals," Georgia knows the whose who and what's what when it comes to the monarchy. When she's not eagerly following the royal family, Georgia enjoys shopping and self-care. She lives with this motto in mind; "if your dreams don't scare you, they aren't big enough."