Strictly bosses sign ballroom star

Shirley Ballas has replaced Len Goodman’s as Head Judge on Strictly, the Sun’s Bizarre column can reveal.

The Brit – dubbed The Queen of Latin – stunned producers during screen tests and landed the job ahead of show favourites.

It comes as The Sun revealed last week that Shirley, 56, was the only candidate to receive a second screen test after reporting she was the shock ex-pro being lined up for the role.

Shirley will take over Len’s Head Judge role and will also have the casting vote in the dance-off after he stepped down at the end of the last series.

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!”

Shirley beat the show’s pro-dancers Anton Du Beke and Brendan Cole, who also were tried out on the panel.

The audition at Elstree Studios, Herts, also saw turns from ex-pro Karen Hardy and Ireland’s Dancing with the Stars judges Loraine Barry and Brian Redmond.

Chief Strictly choreographer Jason Gilkison screen-tested too.

Fellow judge Darcey Bussell said: “I look forward to meeting Shirley and welcoming her to our Strictly team. 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.”

Craig Revel Horwood added: “Fantastic news that Shirley will be joining me and the other judges on the panel. I look forward to working with her on the next series of Strictly!”

Bruno Tonioli said: "I know Shirley well - she is an incredible Latin dancer and trainer and I am sure she will be a great addition to the Strictly team.”

Shirley won the International Latin American Dance Championship with her first husband and partner Sammy Stopford in 1984.

She went on to become ten-time United States Latin American Champion with her second hubby Corky Ballas, 56, and became the only person to win the “British Open to the World” Latin American Championships in Blackpool with two different partners .

And Shirley has already been touched by the Strictly love curse after Corky left her for former Strictly pro Kristina Rihanoff after he became her teacher in 2003.

She divorced him in 2007 but his relationship with Kristina is said to have fizzled out the following year — her first season on Strictly.

Kristina, 39, is now with former England rugby star Ben Cohen, 39.

They were partnered on the show in 2013 and have a daughter together.

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!”

Louise Rainbow, Executive Producer of Strictly added: “I am thrilled that Shirley has agreed to join our judging panel.  The calibre of applicants for this role was exceptional but with her wealth of experience as a World Champion dancer, teacher and judge, she is the perfect fit for Strictly.”


More from Showbiz News

Cover art for What A Man Gotta Do

On Air

Total Access: Olivia Jones playing Jonas Brothers - What A Man Gotta Do