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Who is Shirley Ballas? Everything you need to know about Strictly Come Dancing's new head judge


After nearly a year of intense speculation, former 'British Open to the World' Latin American champion Shirley Ballas has officially been confirmed as the new Head Judge on Strictly Come Dancing; replacing Len Goodman after what can only be describe as donkey's years in the role.

British-born Shirley - a ballroom and Latin dancer and international coach from Wallasey - will be sitting in Len's seat alongside Craig Revel-Horwood, Darcey Bussell and Bruno Toniol.

But who really is Shirley Bussell? Let's get to know her a little better, shall we?

Who is Shirley Ballas?

She's only the bloody 'Queen of Latin dancing'! Shirley, 56, is one of the top and most decorated professional dancers in the world. She is three-time ‘British Open to the World’ Latin American Champion, 10-time United States Latin American Champion, and multiple-times British National Champion. Wowzaaaaa.

And to put everything in perspective, when Shirley was just 21-years-old, she had won nearly every major title that she had competed in. No big deal.

But despite living and breathing dancing, Shirley is also a mother to Mark Ballas (an international dancer, obvs) and a dance coach.

What is Shirley Ballas best known for?

Shirley has been dancing professionally since she was 7! And whilst competing in her teens, Shirley fell in love with dance partner Sammy Stopford and the pair won gold at the 1983 International Latin American Dance Championship.

Her win left Shirley dubbed the 'Queen of Latin Ballroom', but their marriage soon fell apart and she went on to marry Corky Ballas in 1985. Shirley and Corky won a string of dancing trophies - including the International Latin American Dance Championship in 1995 - but divorced in 2007.

Shirley and Corky are still in touch

Shirley has also been caught up in her very own 'Strictly love curse' when professional dancer Kristina Rihanoff – who still remains a pro dancer on Strictly Come Dancing and is loved up with rugby ace Ben Cohen - dated Shirley's ex-husband Corky for FIVE YEARS. Awks.

Shirley and Corky's son Mark (who's a bit of a fitty) went on to become a regular on Dancing With The Stars - remaining on the show for a decade.

Whilst in the states, Shirley trained the wonderful Julianne and Derek Hough – who are now both professional dancers on Dancing With The Stars.

Derek also had a 'brief' romantic relationship with Cheryl back in 2010!

Has Shirley appeared on Strictly before?

No! But she's a massive fan.

When she was officially announced as Len's replacement, she said: “I am so excited and over the moon to have been given this wonderful opportunity. I can’t wait to get in to the ballroom and be part of the incredible and respected judging panel. Strictly is so loved by the British public, I have always been a massive fan. I just can’t wait!"


Has Shirley Ballas got Twitter?

She sure has, you can find her on @ShirleyBallas.

Is Shirley Ballas on Instagram?

Yep! @shirleyballas.

She regularly posts snaps of her gorg son Mark so definitely worth a follow.

We can't wait to see what she brings to the Strictly judging panel! Bring on September...

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