Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas was in tears as she hit back at the online backlash against her in a television interview on Wednesday.
Shirley, who took on the role of head judge in 2017, is the focus of a new fix series as some Twitter users are calling for her to be fired over her criticism of the show’s celebrity contestants.
Shirley, who appeared on Wednesday’s episode of Loose Women, insisted “I don’t have a mean bone in my body” as she called out the “hurtful” comments online.
“The backlash and trolling has been a lot,” Shirley told the Loose Women panel.
“I appreciate that the audience has been there for 20 years,” she continued, “but when you look at a screen you can only see half of what I see, the feet and all. I love that they have an opinion, but then it goes overboard and it’s not nice.’
“It’s a tough industry and Saturdays are the ultimate job. I’ve read everything and it’s so hurtful, some of the language is so explicit I couldn’t even retweet it, it’s unfathomable.
Shirley was asked about the latest episode of Strictly, which featured public vote singer Fleur East to dance alongside Radio 2 star Richie Anderson.
While Shirley’s three fellow judges voted to save Fleur, Shirley admitted that she would have saved Richie.
Alongside claims she prefers male contestants on the show, Shirley has been accused of “having favourites, whether they have talent or not”, with many arguing Fleur was a better dancer than Richie.
Shirley explained her decision, pointing out that it was the public vote that sent Fleur into the dance.
“Why were they in the bottom two if they’re your favorite?” She said. “I have to choose what I like, I judge from the top down.”
“I chose Richie to save him as the samba is difficult to dance and I watch the footwork and I loved Fleur too!”
Shirley also explained how she’s experienced bullying since the beginning of her career, admitting “it escalated so you become more resilient.”
“If you read it, the wall will go 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 humans.’
Fans have rushed to defend Shirley after the show’s head judge was accused of sexism in the furious social media pile.
Shirley is a three-time Latin champion, ten-time US Latin champion and multiple UK national champion, with many fans touting her extensive experience defending the star.
“Shirley only offers constructive criticism. A dance examiner gives constructive comments. How else can anyone improve or correct their mistakes. Shirley is an amazing judge,” one fan tweeted Monday.
“Shirley’s a judge who’s supposed to do her job, but Craig is copying it and nobody says anything. Richie and Fleur’s dances weren’t as good as others, stop making it something it’s not,” agreed another.
One pointed out: “I don’t always agree with your comments, nor do I sometimes agree with Anton and Motsi’s, and I rarely agree with Craig! However, I don’t have the skills or experience to tell any of you that you’re wrong.’
Shirley’s criticism of Fleur’s American Smooth Routine on Part Of Your World from The Little Mermaid on Saturday night’s show was full of praise.
Shirley called the dance “consistent,” telling the singer, “The most beautiful thing I saw today, Fleur, was the fact that you were so sensual and so feminine and so graceful and I really, really enjoyed that part of her.” both.’
She then said she agreed with fellow judge Motsi Mabuse, saying: “It’s time to get down to the smaller details.”
Many tweeters pointed out Shirley’s balanced criticism of Fleur, with one posting: “Shirley provided an excellent, detailed and helpful review.”
“Also criticism that she can transfer to future dances because the same things will apply again. Just because she didn’t say blah blah lovely lovely. You think it’s cruel. It also helps the public to understand.”