Shirley Ballas says a same-sex couple on 'Strictly Come Dancing' is "long overdue".

Shirley Ballas

Shirley Ballas

The 60-year-old head judge has backed the BBC's decision to pair Olympic boxer Nicola Adams with another woman on the upcoming series - with reports suggesting she will appear with professional dancer Katya Jones - and Shirley insisted it's "not a big deal".

Speaking to the Daily Mirror newspaper, she said: "I'm very excited about the same-sex couple. That's long overdue.

"If you go to the theatre you’ll see two men dance together, if you go to the ballet, you’ll see two men dance together. It’s really not a big deal.”

Meanwhile Nicola, 37, recently said she won’t let any negative comments stop her, as she has already been through "so much" in her life.

She explained: "I've been through so much in my life. I've been through my mum and dad separating, domestic violence, back injuries, having to look after my brother when I was 13 when my mum had meningitis.

"So someone's going to comment on Twitter? It's nothing, it won't faze me at all. It's like - try harder. If they don't like it, they're going to have to deal with it or switch to another channel."

The BBC was hit by nearly 300 complaints following the news of the same-sex pairing.

Nicola has compared the backlash to the criticism she initially faced during her career in women's boxing.

She added: "I'm expecting the same sort of thing I got with women's boxing in the beginning - there will always be some resisters, but once they know you're here to stay, they get used to it.

"Women dance together all the time in nightclubs. Traditionally I guess men and women would dance together when they were courting, so the older generation have that in their heads. They see it as a sexual thing rather than a sport."