Bruno Tonioli compares Ed Balls to a 'hippo' ahead of Strictly Come Dancing return

Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli has dismissed Ed Balls’ chances of winning the show, comparing the former shadow chancellor to a “hippopotamus”.

The flamboyant Italian said Ed, who lost his seat as an MP for Morley and Outwood at the general election, had as much chance of being elected prime minister as he did winning the BBC One dance contest.

Speaking at Bafta LA’s pre-Emmy Awards party in Los Angeles, Bruno told the Press Association: “The danger is (he’s) going to be the next Ann Widdecombe. I don’t think the nation is ready for another one. I still haven’t recovered from the first one.

“I think I called her the Dalek in drag. He has to top that. Ed – you have to top the Dalek in drag.

“I want you to be like a hippopotamus in Fantasia.”

Asked what chance Ed had of winning the show, Bruno replied: “As much as being elected prime minister.

“I think he’s going to bring a lot of entertainment value. He’s actually a great sport.

“He knows obviously physically he’s not the fittest. But I think he’s going to apply himself to it.

“I don’t know if he’s going to win it. But he’s definitely going to play his balls.”

Bruno is returning to the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel with Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell and Len Goodman, who is appearing on his last series as head judge.

This year’s contestants include Ed, singer Will Young, Olympic athlete Greg Rutherford and model Daisy Lowe.

:: The new series of Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC One on Friday.

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