Shirley Ballas, dance judge

Desert Island Discs

07-01-2024 • 36 mins

Shirley Ballas is the head judge on Strictly Come Dancing, the BBC’s Saturday night entertainment show, which regularly attracts an audience of many millions. Known as the Queen of Latin dancing, she joined the show in 2017 after a long career as a competitive dancer and teacher.

Shirley was born in Wallasey in 1960. She discovered dance as a seven-year-old when she started taking classes in her local church hall. With a combination of natural flair and hard graft she began winning competitions with her partners. In 1980, while she was still an amateur, she met Sammy Stopford who was ranked seventh in the world as a professional Latin dancer. Together they shot up the rankings and became known as the ‘non-stop Stopfords’.

In 1984 she divorced Sammy and the following year she married Corky Ballas, an amateur dancer from Houston. Shirley set about training Corky to become a professional and in 1995 they won the British Open to the World Championships – a feat they repeated the following year.

In 1996 Shirley retired from competitive dancing to concentrate on coaching dancers and judging competitions. In 2017 she joined Strictly Come Dancing, replacing her friend and former teacher Len Goodman as head judge.

Shirley lives in south London with her mother Audrey and her boyfriend, the actor Danny Taylor.

DISC ONE: Get Lucky - Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers DISC TWO: Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash DISC THREE: Moon River - Frank Sinatra DISC FOUR: Sherry - The Four Seasons DISC FIVE: Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana DISC SIX: You To Me Are Everything - The Real Thing DISC SEVEN: Highs and Lows - Alexander Jean DISC EIGHT: We’ve Only Just Begun - The Carpenters

BOOK CHOICE: Unleash the Power Within by Tony Robbins LUXURY ITEM: Cotton knickers CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Highs and Lows - Alexander Jean

Presenter Lauren Laverne Producer Paula McGinley

You Might Like

Stuff You Should Know
Stuff You Should Know
iHeartPodcasts
Mamamia Out Loud
Mamamia Out Loud
Mamamia Podcasts
Criminal
Criminal
Vox Media Podcast Network
This American Life
This American Life
This American Life
No Filter
No Filter
Mamamia Podcasts
The Why Files: Operation Podcast
The Why Files: Operation Podcast
The Why Files: Operation Podcast
Shameless
Shameless
Shameless Media
Literally! With Rob Lowe
Literally! With Rob Lowe
Stitcher & Team Coco, Rob Lowe
Freakonomics Radio
Freakonomics Radio
Freakonomics Radio + Stitcher
Behind the Bastards
Behind the Bastards
Cool Zone Media
Life Uncut
Life Uncut
Brittany Hockley and Laura Byrne