Shirley Ballas tears up over Simon Rimmer's Hillsborough Strictly dance
New Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas failed to fight back tears after Simon Rimmer’s emotional dance to You’ll Never Walk Alone, the song associated with the Hillsborough tragedy.
The Sunday Brunch presenter and chef, 54, witnessed the 1989 incident, which saw 96 people lose their lives when crowds were crushed at an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
Rimmer – a lifelong Liverpool fan – danced a waltz with his professional partner Karen Clifton to the song and, while he made some mistakes with his technique, Ballas was in awe of his performance.
After asking a visibly emotional Rimmer for a hug, and giving him several kisses on the face, Ballas said: “I’m not going to go to the technique today, I’m going to go with the emotional feeling.
“It was a very, very special piece of music that you danced to today, it means so much to so many for different reasons.
“You felt that music today, it was very moving.”
Judges Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood remarked on Rimmer’s mistakes but commended him for the emotion he added to the dance, and for his improvement compared with last week.
Darcey Bussell added: “You were strong, an elegant gentleman, the intent and focus was all there.
“The emotion, I think, came over you and I felt that.”
Rimmer, who last week received 17 points from the judges, was given 19 points.
After the dance, he told Strictly host Claudia Winkleman that he felt he had “let Karen down” and that he thought he got his “hold wrong at the end”.