Strictly: Shirley Ballas ‘emotional’ as she discusses trolls’ comments
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Shirley Ballas, 62, has been forced to fend off rumours that she is imminently expected to be axed from Strictly Come Dancing. The head judge took to Instagram to clarify how she really feels about claims that she is due to get the sack, following a backlash she has received from some viewers over favouritism claims towards the BBC show’s male contestants.
Load of rubbish!
There was an online furore recently after Shirley was accused of expressing favouritism towards the male celebs, and could even get a bit flirtatious – something that Will Mellor has cheerily admitted he reciprocates if it could get him one step closer to the final.
However, she insists that there is no truth in the rumours that she might be getting fired, in spite of a magazine cover suggesting otherwise, declaring the claim an “absolute load of rubbish”.
“Sells papers, I guess! @bbcstrictly,” she groaned in her Instagram Story, in view of her 244,000 followers.
Meanwhile, Shirley was also in the mood for publicly celebrating the long stint she’d had in the dancing world, musing: “Huge thank you to my legs for carrying me through dance for over 60 years.”
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By the time she was three, Strictly’s head judge was already showing an aptitude for ballet, while she began dancing competitively before she so much as reached double figures.
Former Strictly panellist Len Goodman was one of her judges in these contests – and she went on to win the Latin American Championships no less than three times.
Her supporters are right behind her – but she has experienced criticism from fans over beliefs that she unfairly prioritises male contestants.
It was suggested that she regularly swooned over attractive men, calling Will “easy on the eye”, while some fans were left devastated earlier this month when she said she would have opted to save Richie Anderson and Giovanni Pernice instead of Fleur East and Vito Coppola.
Her vote made little difference, as the other three judges – Motsi Mabuse, Craig Revel Horwood and Anton du Beke – had opted to send Fleur and Vito through.
However, Fleur’s The Little Mermaid themed performance, which saw her model a costume with purple seashell shaped bra cups in honour of Ariel, was defended furiously by some fans.
Fleur had spoken out about her role being important to her in terms of racial representation, pointing out that the Disney classic had been one of her favourite films in her childhood and that she has been looking forward to a new release of the movie with an African-American actress, Halle Bailey, playing the lead role.
Traditionally, The Little Mermaid is associated with Danish fairytale author Hans Christian Andersen, and Ariel has always been portrayed as a red-head with white skin.
When Shirley backed Richie and Giovanni in that week’s dance off, some suggested sexism could have been behind her decision.
However she has always firmly denied the accusations, and revealed to the Metro that she “doesn’t ignore” the criticism, as she takes her job “seriously”.
The star, who has played her current role since 2017, exclaimed: “I’m honoured and humbled to be able to be the head judge.
“To be able to get out there and give the best critique of the couples along their way during the show and hoping that it will inspire them to be the best that they can be.”
She even suggested that the rumours were all part of the fun of the show, as she exclaimed: “I think this season is one of the most fantastic series that we’ve had so far, with lots of bits of gossip going on here and there.”
Shirley has also faced her fair share of negativity in her earlier days, claiming her career was plagued by males who bullied her and “blocked” her route to success.
She told You magazine: “I remember a competition [before Strictly] I was asked to judge and someone from the World Dance Council rang and said [to the organisers], ‘She’s unfit to judge. If you employ her, we won’t give you a licence.'”
In spite of the strife, she has had a meteoric rise from a tough council estate background to international fame – and she’s made it clear via her latest post that she has no intention of going anywhere soon.
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