Schapelle Corby's inclusion in the 2021 cast of Dancing With The Stars: All Stars came as a shock to many - with doubts she would even make it through the very first episode.

Even the judges thought so, it was made apparent tonight.

But instead, returning panel Helen Richey, Todd McKenney, Paul Mercurio and Mark Wilson found themselves eating their words as they issued glowing feedback to the convicted drug smuggler.

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Schapelle Corby stunned the judges with her first performance. Picture: Channel 7
Schapelle Corby stunned the judges with her first performance. Picture: Channel 7

Taking to the dancefloor as the final performance of the evening, the former SAS: Australia contestant shone in a sparkling red gown during her Viennese waltz, looking demure as she moved across the floor.

"I've been so nervous, I've been crying I've been out the back, they've had to do my makeup again," she told host Sonia Kruger afterwards.

While Corby, who only lasted two episodes of SAS: Australia last year, was still the third-lowest scoring of the seven who performed tonight, the judges gushed over her waltz.

Todd McKenney even found himself apologising for doubting her.

"I have to apologise to you in fact, because for whatever reason, I don't know why and it's unfair of me, but I thought you were gonna be crap," he admitted, advising her to "move with more freedom" going forward.

Elsewhere, Mark Wilson called her performance "simply the most inspirational performance that I never, ever, ever expected to see."

"I don't know what I expected but you have elevation, you have elegance, you're so emotional and in the moment," he said.

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Schapelle Corby on Dancing With The Stars. Picture: Channel 7
Schapelle Corby on Dancing With The Stars. Picture: Channel 7

Fellow judge Helen Richey weighed in with similar surprise: "You actually moved around the floor very gracefully, you looked very classy and I was impressed with that," while Paul Mercurio called her dance "sultry and beautiful".

But with scores of 5s and 6s across the board - a rather surprising result given the feedback - she found it hard to catch up to early frontrunners Kyly Clarke and Bec Hewitt, who won the first ever season of DWTS back in 2004.

Ultimately it was Fifi Box and her dance partner Jeremy who were sent packing after the first episode.

Corby joins the all star cast as one of the "wildcards", along with former Bachelor Matty Johnson, TV host Renee Bargh and model Jessica Gomes.

Dancing With The Stars: All Stars continues tomorrow night at 7.30 on Channel 7.

Originally published as Star makes public apology to Schapelle

Could she have a shot at the trophy? Picture: Channel 7
Could she have a shot at the trophy? Picture: Channel 7