Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas says she wonders how she’s ‘still standing’ after years of men bullying her

Shirley Ballas (PA)
Shirley Ballas (PA)

STRICTLY COME DANCING judge Shirley Ballas has revealed she was inspired to pursue her new role as TV judge after being bullied by men at “the very top” of the dance world.

Ballas, 57, who replaced Len Goodman on the hit BBC1 show, said the “bullying” went on for so “many years” she wonders how “I’m still standing”.

Speaking about her career in the “Latin and ballroom” industry, she told Loose Women: “We’re a male-dominated industry… It’s been really quite suppressing and I felt it to the point where people (would) hold up a video in their lectures and say ‘We never want to look like that woman, don’t talk to that woman’, even stopping me judging a small competition here or there.”

“I look at myself at 57 and wonder how I’m still standing in an industry where there’s a tremendous amount of jealousy… but I’m still here. I think I’m a strong character.”

Ballas, who came under flak for her decision not to save Aston Merrygold from elimination on Strictly on Sunday night, said she now puts “walls up” after being bullied by “some of the men at the very top”.

My mum is so proud of me as new head judge on Strictly Come Dancing, says Shirley Ballas

“I think when you come into the industry your parents are with you but my advice to everybody is always watch out for the bullies,” she told the ITV show.

“My son even wrote a beautiful song for me, Head High, because he realised how much I was bullied in the industry, to the point where he’s actually stood up for me, when I’ve said ‘I can handle this’.”

And she revealed that her son encouraged her with her new Strictly role because of the bullying.

Strictly Come Dancing 2017
Strictly judges Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell, Shirley Ballas and Bruno Tonioli (Guy Levy/BBC)

“At the end of the day, my son pushed me, a little bit, towards this job of Strictly, because of what was going on in my own industry. So, I thank all those people in my industry because I wouldn’t be sat here on Strictly,” she said.

Ballas said she had “struggled” with being trolled online since being catapulted into the limelight.

“I couldn’t even repeat some of the things that people have called me,” she said.

And she defended her final, casting vote, which sealed Merrygold’s fate at the weekend, saying: “There’s no fix, none at all. It’s a TV show at the end of the day, everybody tunes in, everyone has a chance to vote.”

Ballas is marking Christmas for the first time since her brother David committed suicide 14 years ago.

“In 2003, my brother took his own life…. he died on the 5th December… So we haven’t celebrated Christmas at all.

“He had this six weeks of being really down, not really feeling up to himself…  I don’t think I understood how sick he was and I don’t think my mum did either.

“He was my biggest fan, he was not just my brother, he was like a father figure, it was very difficult…. I always felt safe with him,” she said.

She also told the show she has forgiven ex-husband Corky Ballas for publicly discussed their marriage.

“I was married to him a long time. We have a son together, my son is the most important thing to me. If you feel you have to write something for money, I forgive you,” Ballas said.