Shirley Ballas has revealed she has been subjected to more online bullying during the current series of Strictly Come Dancing than in previous years, writes Kerri-Ann Roper.
The ballroom dancer, who took over from head judge Len Goodman on the BBC1 series in 2017, said she has received an influx of abusive direct messages, mostly from younger viewers.
Ballas, 59, said: “I’ve had more online bullying this time than I’ve had in any series of Strictly, particularly direct messaging, more so from the younger fans if their chosen one gets sent away.
“It’s ‘I hate you, die, go kill yourself’ – those types of messages in my direct message box.
“My concern is not so much for myself, it’s for the younger people out there… if they do that kind of bullying online, what do they do in the workplace, what do they do at the school? So my concern is always for the younger generation.”
Ballas’s partner Daniel Taylor said it was “very nasty”.
He added: “I’m always saying to Shirley to try and ignore it if you can but sometimes it’s very, very difficult to sort of look away from it, some of it gets quite personal and it’s sad.”
Ballas said that she had not previously experienced “this kind” of social media bullying, adding: “It’s about your body, it’s about your face, it’s so many things.
“I couldn’t even repeat some of the things that are said because… I mean we’re talking like really personal, and that’s because you send somebody home and that’s my job.”
She went on to say that as a judge on the Strictly panel she has no favourites among the contestants and deciding who to send home is part of her job.
She added: “I love them all, may the best man win.”