Former Latin dancing star Shirley Ballas, a Merseyside native, will take over Len Goodman's role in Strictly

Shirley Ballas has been confirmed as the new head judge on Strictly Come Dancing.

The British-born Latin and ballroom dancer will be filling the gap left by Len Goodman, who stepped down from the role in 2016 after 12 years.

Nicknamed the Queen of Latin, Shirley is a former International Latin American Champion.

 

After retiring from competitive dancing in 1996, Shirley is now an acclaimed international coach to professional and amateur dancers and is a renowned adjudicator for Ballroom and Latin American competitions around the world.

Watch Shirley Ballas dance in 1986:

Shirley will join existing judges Darcey Bussell, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli on the line-up of the popular BBC1 dancing programme.

She said: “I am so excited and over the moon to have been given this wonderful opportunity.

“I can’t wait to get in to the ballroom and be part of the incredible and respected judging panel.

Len Goodman
Len Goodman (Ian West/PA)

 

“Strictly is so loved by the British public, I have always been a massive fan. I just can’t wait!”

Darcey said she looks forward to meeting Shirley and ‘welcoming her to our Strictly team’.

She added: “Her years of experience in Ballroom and Latin dancing are impressive and I’m sure she will be a great addition to our judging panel.”

Bruno said: “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.”

Craig added Shirley’s appointment into the Strictly family is ‘fantastic news’.

Strictly Come Dancing 2016
Strictly Come Dancing 2016 judging panel (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

 

Charlotte Moore, director of BBC Content, said: “Len’s are big shoes to fill, but the Queen of Latin is the ideal new Strictly judge.

“Shirley Ballas is a British ballroom expert whose credentials speak for themselves; she’s going to be a fabulous addition to the best judging panel in showbiz!”

Strictly returns this autumn on BBC1 for its 15th series.