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Strictly risks favouritism row as Dan Walker admits he’s pals with Shirley Ballas

Strictly Come Dancing hopeful Dan Walker has admitted he is pals with show judge Shirley Ballas.

Both have enjoyed a close friendship for years.

The pair first formed a close bond when they went together up Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in 2019. They have been friends ever since.

Dan, 44, said: “We had some great conversations on that trip. I really got to know her quite well. I’m looking forward to seeing her.

“We’ve had a few Kilimanjaro reunions and I think she’s great and incredibly talented and she knows what she is talking about.”



Dan Walker doesn't reckon his friendship with Shirley will benefit him
Dan Walker doesn’t reckon his friendship with Shirley will benefit him

Dan risks a favouritism row by revealing they are such good pals.

There is speculation that Shirley, 61, will give him more marks in the BBC dance contest.

But he insists it is unlikely to help him because she has already seen him dance — and ended up laughing at him.

Dan said: “On one particular occasion Shirley was feeling a bit down and a bit upset, so I nicked one of the blankets we were using to keep warm at night and I did a bit of impromptu Pasodoble, and she laughed her head off, which I’m not sure is the best thing.



Dan met Shirley while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro together for Comic Relief
Dan met Shirley while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro together for Comic Relief

“I questioned whether I would’ve got a 10 from Len, but she continued to laugh, so I’m not sure the technique was great, but it had the desired effect of making her laugh.”

TV favourite Dan was paired with former Playboy model Nadiya Bychkova, 32, in Saturday night’s launch show.

And bookies are tipping them to sail through the early weeks of this year’s series.



Dan has been partnered with Nadiya Bychkova in this year's Strictly
Dan has been partnered with Nadiya Bychkova in this year’s Strictly

But Dan had a setback on Friday when he was taken to hospital after bashing his head on a glass door.

He has had to miss training because of the injury.

He said: “I’ve got to rest for a couple of days – so I’ll be a bit behind – but ready to dig in again next week.”

Strictly Come Dancing’s live shows kick off next Saturday on BBC One

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Strictly risks favouritism row as Dan Walker admits he's pals with Shirley Ballas
Anurag Reddy
I'm a 29-year-old travel enthusiast, travel and nature photographer, Computer Science graduate, and Mass Communication student. I have seen different shades of life through traveling and lived different lives through reading. With every word I write, I travel within, and I understand myself better. Writing helps me discover myself, and that paved roads for me to choose writing as a profession.
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