Shirley Ballas hits back at 'hurtful' trolls after being urged to quit Strictly over sexist comments

16 mins read


Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas got tearful as she hit back at the online backlash against her during a TV interview on Wednesday. 

Shirley, who landed the head judge role in 2017, is at the centre of a new fix row as some Twitter users demand she is sacked over her critique of this series’ celebrity contestants. 

Appearing on Wednesday’s episode of Loose Women, Shirley insisted ‘I don’t have a mean bone in my body’ as she called out the ‘hurtful’ comments online.

Her say: Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas got tearful as she hit back at the online backlash against her on Wednesday's episode of Loose Women

Her say: Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas got tearful as she hit back at the online backlash against her on Wednesday’s episode of Loose Women

‘The backlash and trolling has been a lot,’ Shirley told the Loose Women panel.

‘I appreciate the audience has been there for 20 years,’ she continued, ‘but when you watch a screen you can only see half of what I see, the feet and everything. I love that they have an opinion but then it goes overboard and its not nice.’

‘It’s a tough industry, and Saturdays are the ultimate job. I read everything and it is so hurtful, some of the language is so explicit I couldn’t even retweet it, its unfathomable.’

Saved: Shirley is at the centre of a new fix role as trolls demand she is sacked over her critique of contestants, including her comment that Fleur East should have been sent home on Sunday

Saved: Shirley is at the centre of a new fix role as trolls demand she is sacked over her critique of contestants, including her comment that Fleur East should have been sent home on Sunday 

Out: Sunday night saw the public vote Fleur into the the dance off alongside Richie Anderson. While Shirley's three co-judges voted to save Fleur, Shirley said she would have saved Richie

Out: Sunday night saw the public vote Fleur into the the dance off alongside Richie Anderson. While Shirley’s three co-judges voted to save Fleur, Shirley said she would have saved Richie

Shirley was asked about the latest episode of Strictly, which saw the public vote singer Fleur East into the the dance off alongside Radio 2 star Richie Anderson. 

While Shirley’s three co-judges voted to save Fleur, Shirley admitted she would have saved Richie. 

Alongside claims she favours male contestants on the show, Shirley has been accused of having ‘favourites whether they have ability or not’, with many arguing that Fleur had been the superior dancer to Richie. 

Emotional@ Appearing on Wednesday's episode of Loose Women , Shirley insisted'I don't have a mean bone in my body' as she called out the'hurtful' comments online

Emotional@ Appearing on Wednesday’s episode of Loose Women , Shirley insisted ‘I don’t have a mean bone in my body’ as she called out the ‘hurtful’ comments online

Trolls:'The backlash and trolling has been a lot,' Shirley told the Loose Women panel.'I read everything and it is so hurtful'

Trolls: ‘The backlash and trolling has been a lot,’ Shirley told the Loose Women panel. ‘I read everything and it is so hurtful’

Explaining her decision, Shirley pointed out it was the public vote that sent Fleur into the dance off. 

‘Why were they in the bottom two if they’re your favourite?’ she said. ‘I have to choose what I like, I judge from the top to the bottom.’

‘I chose Richie to save as the Samba is hard to dance and I look at the footwork and I loved Fleur too!’ 

Shirley also explained how she has experienced bullying since she first began her career, admitting ‘it escalated so it makes you resilient.’

‘When you read it the wall goes up. I don’t have a mean bone in my body. You don’t have to agree with me but we can still talk to each other like human beings.’ 

Criticism: Fans have rushed to defend Shirley after the show's head judge was accused of sexism in a furious social media pile on

Criticism: Fans have rushed to defend Shirley after the show’s head judge was accused of sexism in a furious social media pile on

Fans have rushed to defend Shirley after the show’s head judge was accused of sexism in the furious social media pile on. 

Shirley is a three time Latin American Champion, 10-time US Latin American Champion, and multiple-times British National Champion, with many fans pointing out her extensive experience in defence of the star.

‘Shirley is purely giving constructive criticism. A dance examiner gives constructive comments. How otherwise can anyone better themselves or correct their mistakes. Shirley is a fantastic judge,’ tweeted one fan on Monday. 

‘Shirley is a judge is there to do her job, yet Craig marks down and no one says anything. Richie and Fleur’s dances were not as good as others, stop making it into something it isn’t,’ another agreed. 

One pointed out: ‘I don’t always agree with your comments, likewise I sometimes don’t agree with Anton’s and Motsi’s and I rarely agree with Craig! However I don’t have the necessary skills and experience to tell any of you that you are wrong.’ 

Shirley’s critique of Fleur’s American Smooth routine to Part Of Your World from The Little Mermaid on Saturday night’s show was full of praise.

Calling the dance ‘consistent,’ Shirley told the singer: ‘The most beautiful thing I saw today Fleur was the fact you were so sensual and so feminine and so graceful and that part I really really enjoyed,’ adding there was ‘beautiful chemistry between the two of you.’

She then said she agreed with her fellow judge Motsi Mabuse and said ‘it’s time to get onto the smaller details.’

Judging: Now, fans have defended the judge, 62, against the'uber woke' brigade, pointing out her role on the show is to be a judge and offer criticism to help the celebrities improve

Judging: Now, fans have defended the judge, 62, against the ‘uber woke’ brigade, pointing out her role on the show is to be a judge and offer criticism to help the celebrities improve

Many tweeters pointed out Shirley’s balanced critique of Fleur, with one posting: ‘Shirley gave excellent, detailed and helpful critique.’

‘Moreover, critique that she can take forwards to future dances, because the same things will apply again. Just because she didn’t go “blah blah, lovely, lovely.” You take it as cruel. It also helps the public to understand.’

Shirley herself referenced the backlash in a tweet on Monday, writing:  ‘I have received many apologies over the weekend regarding hurtful messages I’ve received on social media.

‘All apologies are accepted and from now on let’s all respect each other and enjoy the show. Love to you all’.

In her defence: Shirley herself referenced the backlash in a tweet on Monday, writing:'I have received many apologies over the weekend regarding hurtful messages

In her defence: Shirley herself referenced the backlash in a tweet on Monday, writing: ‘I have received many apologies over the weekend regarding hurtful messages

Several fans came to her defence, with one writing: ‘Some of the comments were disgraceful, I’m pleased to hear you have getting many apologies. 

‘There is no need for insults & abuse, you are doing the job you have trained for many years in & you are the expert Shirley.’

Another said: ‘Poor @ShirleyBallas all weekend I’ve read vile hurtful comments for her just doing her job. @BBCStrictly is an entertainment show, why can’t people just enjoy it for what is is. You got this @ShirleyBallas’. 

Head judge: Many tweeters pointed out Shirley's balanced critique of Fleur, with one posting:'Shirley gave excellent, detailed and helpful critique.'

Head judge: Many tweeters pointed out Shirley’s balanced critique of Fleur, with one posting: ‘Shirley gave excellent, detailed and helpful critique.’

Meanwhile her fellow judge Anton Du Beke defended the judging process on Strictly during a conversation with Kaye Adams, who was voted off the show in its first week.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, Kaye was keen to know why Shirley has history in voting to save a difference pair to her fellow judges after the dance off, asking Anton about her decision to save Richie over Fleur:

‘Shirley and the other three judges seemed to go in different directions – is that all pantomime?’

‘No, no, because we can’t confer!’ Anton replied. ‘The judging part of it is a really important part of the show and we don’t confer.’

Co-star: Meanwhile her fellow judge Anton Du Beke defended the judging process on Strictly, stating 'You know, you have your own basic principles about what you judge on'

Co-star: Meanwhile her fellow judge Anton Du Beke defended the judging process on Strictly, stating ‘You know, you have your own basic principles about what you judge on’

‘We do what we do individually and then, after the show’s finished, then we can chat and go, “Oh, why did you go for that?” he explained.

‘But during the process, we can’t even look at each other. It’s really important that we don’t make any sort of contact together because then it could be seen as deciding the results amongst ourselves.’

He continued: ‘I’m very aware that I can’t glance towards Shirley and raise my eyebrows. I look straight forward and I make my decision and we all do the same thing. There’s no conferring at all and it’s really important.

Anton then went on to refer to Kaye’s own elimination, where he and the other judges did not agree with Shirley that she should be saved and she was ultimately sent home over Bros star Matt Goss.

‘Shirley decided what she decided. You know, you have your own basic principles about what you judge on and you make your decision based on those, really, and so she’d obviously seen something in you that…

All change? The series judge has been accused of having'favourites whether they have ability or not', with some viewers calling for her to be sacked

All change? The series judge has been accused of having ‘favourites whether they have ability or not’, with some viewers calling for her to be sacked

‘That you didn’t?’ Kaye interrupted. ‘That the other three judges absolutely did not,’ Anton stated. ‘But it was so close.’

Shirley’s decision to save Richie over Fleur prompted one outraged viewer to tweet on Sunday night: ‘Sexist Shirley would have saved Richie over Fleur. Ffs, Richie’s dance had negligible Samba content and he fannied around the judges’ tables for half the dance. 

‘Fleur’s dance was elegant and beautiful. She has no credibility as a judge.’  

One viewer wrote: ‘Shirley seems to have completely lost the plot this season. She is downright rude, sexist and blatantly has her favourites whether they have ability or not. I am rapidly losing all respect for her!!!’

The pile on continued as another posted: ‘The way Shirley speaks to the women is unacceptable. She clearly has an issue with young attractive women and this affects her judge. 

Opinions: Members of the television audience took to Twitter over the weekend to express their views on Shirley's remarks

Opinions: Members of the television audience took to Twitter over the weekend to express their views on Shirley’s remarks

‘Furthermore, the suggestive tone she uses to the make celebrities is sexist. All been happening since she began. BBC, you have just lost 2 viewers.’

‘Shirley Ballas should be removed from the panel, she’s setting a bad example,’ another viewer declared. ‘She cannot celebrate the young, female celebrities. Her views are outdated and sexist. Please let this be her last year, or preferably week on, #Strictly.’

Another Strictly fan posted: ‘I have said this before, but if Anton made similar comments about the female dancers there would be uproar. I do think Motsi and Shirley need to rein in the sexist comments towards male dancers.’

While someone else shared: ‘Shirley’s scoring has been wild and almost random, and others have said it seems sexist and vindictive. I guess that’s why there are four judges.’

Another viewer posted: ‘I’m not confused, she was definitely sexist in her praise tonight and who wants to see her openly drooling over all the men ffs! If the male judges behaved like that to the female contestants they’d be in all sorts of trouble. Shirley, be more professional and less creepy.’

And another audience member tweeted: ‘Can we stop the sexist comments to the male celebrities! #shirley #craig #willmellor #mattgoss.’

Switch up: Some called for Shirley to be removed from the judging panel after she lost credibility in their eyes

Switch up: Some called for Shirley to be removed from the judging panel after she lost credibility in their eyes

Strictly has also been rocked with fresh race row as fans slam the show’s public voting result which sent Fleur and Richie into the dance off as ‘outrageous’. 

One viewer wrote on Twitter: ‘Neither of those couples should have been anywhere NEAR the bottom two, but of course the British public are racist.’ 

Another posted: ‘Good dancers voted out early every season due to racist voting,’ another chimed in while a third said: ‘Racism 100%, there’s no other explanation. It’s obvious.’

‘Motsi knows that the British public are racist, and got as close as she could to saying it outright,’ a third stated.

One added: ‘So depressed by the bottom two in the dance-off last night on Strictly. No WAY should it have been Fleur or Richie. I’ve said it for years and I’ll say it again: it is 100% racism (whether conscious or subconscious) driving the British public’s votes.’

Richie and Fleur were in the middle of the leaderboard before the public vote, which saw them land the bottom two. 

Slammed: BBC viewers took to Twitter, claiming the decision made by the British public was'racist'

Slammed: BBC viewers took to Twitter, claiming the decision made by the British public was ‘racist’

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