Strictly judge Shirley Ballas hints the show could have gender-neutral couple

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Judge Shirley, 61, believes the show’s executive producer Sarah James is exploring all options for the next series after it was revealed the BBC lists more than 150 different genders to its staff.

She said: “Everything is possible. Sarah is always looking outside the box, and if it fits, and it’s a good fit for the show and a good fit for the client, I’m sure we will be seeing a lot of things you won’t be expecting.”

Sarah oversaw the two samesex pairings – boxer Nicola Adams and Katya Jones, then Bake Off’s John Whaite and Johannes Radebe.

She said research conducted by the show revealed the audience “appreciated that partnership.”

Nicola and Katya had to leave the competition in 2020 early because of Covid, but returned to perform in the series final.

John and Johannes made it to last year’s final, which was won by Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice.

Last month, it was revealed BBC staff had been given training in using the correct pronouns for various genders.

Anton Du Beke has replaced Bruno Tonioli on the judging panel, alongside Craig Revel Horwood and Motsi Mabuse.

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