Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell has described her first appearances on the show as “terrifying”.

The former Royal Ballet principal dancer joined the BBC dancing contest in 2012 and says: “In the beginning it was terrifying; live television is terrifying.

“I didn’t know how to express myself sitting in a chair where I couldn’t move.

“It took me a while to understand that I had a voice as well. The guys were incredibly supportive and they made me feel very much at home, despite my nerves.”

Darcey, 45, who will return to the judges panel alongside Craig Revel Horwood, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli when the new series of starts this autumn, conceded she is seen as “the nice judge”.

“I will say something if I believe someone is not trying hard enough, but generally I’m more sympathetic to the contestants because I know what it’s like to be flattened and demoralised,” she said.

“Criticism has been my life as a dancer and I don’t want to do that to them. That won’t help them come back next week.”

Strictly Come Dancing will return to BBC1 at the end of the summer.