Shirley Ballas says Strictly left her so ‘fragile’ she’s taking time off

Shirley Ballas has revealed that relentless trolling about her judging on Strictly has left her so fragile she has booked three weeks off to tend to her mental health.

The show’s head judge, 62, said that even her boyfriend Danny Taylor had noticed a difference in her emotional state in recent weeks and had advised her to take a break.

It comes after the ballroom legend was branded “sexist” towards singer Fleur East, “jealous” of TV star Kym Marsh and – while highly doubtful – became the bookies’ favourite to get sacked by 2023.

In an interview with Notebook, she said: “I’ve been trained from a very young age that you just get on with it, no matter how you’re feeling, but lately I’ve had a few cracks in that smile.

"I’m not always managing and I’m questioning myself.

“My boyfriend Danny even said that he’d noticed a difference in my mental health and emotional state. He said, ‘I think you’re ready for a break.’ I’m taking three weeks off at Christmas. I need to take care of myself a little bit more.”

The backlash started after Shirley went against her fellow co-judges Motsi Mabuse, Craig Revel-Horwood and Anton Du Beke and said she’d save Richie Anderson over Fleur in the dance off, for which she was branded sexist.

She was then called to be axed over her low scoring of Kym during Strictly’s 100 Years of the BBC episode, for which she was dubbed jealous.

Elsewhere in the interview, Shirley also pointed out how trolls had been targeting appearance – and had even criticised her “big ears” after she wore her hair tied up in a bun.

She added: “Every year I get a little bit [of trolling], but this year it’s worse. Someone said, ‘When can we vote you off the show?’ You know that thing they had for Holly [Willoughby] and Phil [Schofield] when they did a petition? You couldn’t be further from sexist than I am.”

Shirley is a three time Latin American Champion, 10-time US Latin American Champion, and multiple-times British National Champion. She has been on the show since 2017 in the head judge's spot, taking over from long-standing leading man Len Goodman.

Her rock throughout this rough patch is her partner Danny, an actor she met while in panto in Liverpool in 2018. The pair aren’t yet engaged, but twice-married Shirley has designed her engagement ring.

She has also been backed up over the past few weeks by pros and celebrities from this year's competition, including Jayde Adams.

Speaking on It Takes Two in her first interview after sashaying off the dancefloor, Jayde took the opportunity to praise the females on the show, who she said have to deal with a significant amount more trolling than the men do.

Jayde told host Rylan: "I will say, women on this show get it in the neck, whether it's me whether it's Karen, whether it's Shirley, the women get it worse than the men. And I just hope that my resilience is going to change things in the future."

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