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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Lisa McLoughlin

Strictly’s Shirley Ballas hires assistant to ‘syphon through’ hate messages

Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas said she has hired a personal assistant who “syphons through” hateful messages sent to her.

The 63-year-old former competitive dancer, who is currently judging the 21st series of BBC One show, has spoken previously about being trolled online.

Appearing on Channel 5 News on Tuesday, Ballas was asked if she has got better at dealing with some of the “horrible stuff” on social media.

In the interview with Dan Walker, who came fifth on Strictly in 2021, she said: “I think with the social media, yes.

“This year I’ve taken on Harry as a PA, and also syphons through all those really unbelievable messages that you couldn’t even repeat to a human being.”

Discussing how difficult it can be to avoid hateful messages, Ballas added: “Unfortunately they come up, you know, if you’re scrolling or you’re looking or, you know, when I did my Sky challenges for (charity) Calm, they come up and I’m trying to help people as well, so I don’t want to just ignore all the good people, ’cause there’s more good people than bad people.”

To raise money for suicide prevention charity Calm, Ballas undertook a Skyatholon challenge in August which involved a zipline, wing walk and 13,000ft skydive.

The former ballroom dancer also spoke about her new book Murder On The Dancefloor, co-written by Sheila McClure, which follows dance superstar and world champion Lily Richmond and private investigator Susie Cooper as they try to unveil the identity of killer.

Talking about the novel and whether the level of drama is representative of the dance industry, Ballas said: “I’ve lived it. I’ve been part of it… not the murder part but everything else that went with it, you know the backstabbing.

“And it’s such a competitive industry and people will do whatever they need to do to get wherever they need to go.”

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