The new series of Strictly Come Dancing is still yet to start, but judge Bruno Tonioli has already dubbed Ed Balls as "the next Ann Widdecombe".

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

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

Bruno’s comments come just one day after Ed’s dance partner Katya announced she has put Ed on a strict diet ahead of the competition.

Speaking at BAFTA LA’s pre-Emmy Awards party, 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 panel with Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell and Len Goodman – who will be stepping down after this series.

Last month Ed Balls spoke to Chris Evans on his Radio 2 breakfast show. The contestant said he was “scared to death” but described taking part as a “dream come true”, adding that “Parliament was much easier than this”.

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

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