Shirley hits back!

Strictly head judge Shirley Bal­las re­sponds to her crit­ics

Best - - CONTENTS - WORDS: KELLY ALLEN AND SHEL­LEY MARS­DEN

It was al­ways go­ing to be dif­fi­cult to fill the shoes of for­mer head judge Len Good­man but, as the weeks go by, his re­place­ment – ‘Queen of Latin’ Shirley Bal­las – seems to be step­ping on some toes.

Ten days ago, she left Strictly view­ers aghast when she crit­i­cised fan favourite, co-host Clau­dia Win­kle­man, for ‘slouch­ing’ on the re­sults show – re­sult­ing in an au­di­ble gasp from the au­di­ence and Clau­dia re­spond­ing, ‘That’s a brave thing to say.’

And that’s not the only thing get­ting Strictly fans hot un­der the col­lar. On­line re­ac­tions to Shirley on the show have been fairly damn­ing. She is ‘rude’ and ‘catty’, wrote one Twit­ter user. Another com­mented, ‘ What does #shirley­bal­las bring to #strictly apart from bias, drivel, whin­ing voice, no per­son­al­ity, rep­e­ti­tion and talk about Mersey­side’ – while oth­ers have slammed her as ‘ be­yond ir­ri­tat­ing’, ‘a mis­er­able mare’ and ‘a neg­a­tive bint’. Ouch!

In fact, Shirley has ad­mit­ted that she finds the crit­i­cism tough to take. She told best at the Pride Of Bri­tain Awards, ‘It’s over­whelm­ing, but I’m get­ting bet­ter each week. At the be­gin­ning, it was scary but… I’m there to do a job and cri­tique the danc­ing, and that part for me is easy.

‘I can just say what I see and be hon­est. Now it’s more re­lax­ing and you are get­ting to see my sense of hu­mour as I’m more com­fort­able.’

Re­fer­ring to the ‘slouch­ing’ in­ci­dent, Shirley said, ‘Peo­ple need to have a sense of hu­mour be­cause Clau­dia has a wicked one. She’s an amaz­ing lady. Ev­ery­thing is just in fun and to lighten it up, as well as teach­ing peo­ple. Although my son, Mark, does say I can be su­per-strict.’ Shirley now re­alises how dif­fi­cult it was to take Len’s seat. She ex­plained, ‘I’ve known Len all my life and he was a per­sonal friend, plus my teacher. He told me through­out the year, just al­ways be sin­cere to your­self, trust your heart, go with your gut in­stinct, don’t sec­ond-guess your­self. But his are big shoes to fill.’

Hav­ing been in the busi­ness most of her life, the 57-yearold clearly knows what she’s talk­ing about on the dance front. Per­haps it’s all part of her plan to con­quer.

How­ever, we al­ready have one pan­tomime vil­lain on the panel in the form of Craig Revel Hor­wood. Is there re­ally room for another?

‘I’m there to do a job and cri­tique the danc­ing – that part is easy for me!’

Shirley may be strict, but she can have a laugh, too

Len’s shoes are not easy ones to fill

Her com­ments about Clau­dia shocked fans

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