Dancing queen will be Strictly new boss for show

Shirley Ballas will head up the judging panel on Strictly Come Dancing after Len Goodman's departure
Shirley Ballas will head up the judging panel on Strictly Come Dancing after Len Goodman's departure
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Strictly Come Dancing’s new head judge is a Blackpool record holder.

Shirley Ballas will replace Len Goodman after he quit the BBC show last year.

A former ballroom and Latin dancer and international coach, Shirley’s known in the business as the Queen of Latin.

And her pedigree at the British Open To The World championships in Blackpool are second to none; she’s a former three-time Latin American Champion, who reached the finals 17 times.

She’s the only person to have won the contest with two different partners, and remains the youngest ever female to reach its finals.

Wallasey-born Ballas is also a renouned adjudicator for ballroom and Latin competitions around the world.

And with her formidable background, she’ll be one to watch if the show makes its annual pilgrimage to the home of ballroom - for the Blackpool Tower Ballroom special broadcast.

Shirley, 56 will join existing judges Darcey Bussell, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli on the line-up.

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!”

Bussell said she looks forward to meeting Shirley and “welcoming her to our team”.

She added: “Her years of experience in Ballroom and Latin dancing are impressive and I’m sure she will be a great addition to our judging panel.”

Tonioli said he ‘is an incredible Latin dancer and trainer’, while Revel Horwood added Ballas’ appointment into the Strictly family was “fantastic news”.

Charlotte Moore, director of BBC Content, said: “Len’s are big shoes to fill, but the Queen of Latin is the ideal new Strictly judge.

“Shirley Ballas is a British ballroom expert whose credentials speak for themselves; she’s going to be a fabulous addition to the best judging panel in showbiz!”

As well as her own credentials, Shirley has mentored her son Mark Ballas and American siblings Julianne and Derek Hough through their times on the US version of Strictly Dancing With The Stars.

Strictly returns this autumn on BBC1 for its 15th series.