Belfast Telegraph

Shirley Ballas is new Head Judge on Strictly Come Dancing

Shirley Ballas will be replacing Len Goodman in the role.

Latin dance champion Shirley Ballas has been announced as the new Head Judge on Strictly Come Dancing.

The British-born star, whose son is musician, Broadway actor and former winner of Dancing With the Stars Mark Ballas, will be taking over from Len Goodman in the prestigious role on the BBC programme.

Shirley was also guardian to professional dancer siblings Julianne and Derek Hough when they spent time in London during their childhood and has various titles under her belt, such as three-time British Open To The World Latin American champion.

“I am so excited and over the moon to have been given this wonderful opportunity,” the 56-year-old said in a statement from the BBC. “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’s fellow judges also shared some kind words, with Darcey Bussell noting Shirley’s experience is bound to make her a great addition to the line-up, while Craig Revel Horwood described her joining as “fantastic news”.

Bruno Tonioli shared: "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.”

Len, 73, had judged on Strictly Come Dancing since its beginnings in 2004 and made his final appearance on the Christmas Day Special in 2016. He also previously headed up Dancing with the Stars in the U.S., which currently counts Julianne Hough as a judge following her stint as a professional dancer on the show. Her brother Derek has also served as a dancer on the series.

Strictly Come Dancing will return to the small screen for its 15th series this autumn (17).

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