Strictly Come Dancing’s Shirley Ballas was ‘shocked’ to learn that an old friend had wished her a ‘Princess Diana style death’ when she was cast by the BBC.
The 60-year-old ballroom dancer, who is also head judge on the hit dance show, shot to fame when she was selected to appear on the show in 2017.
However, not all of her friends were supportive of her ascent into the limelight as a Strictly judge.
In her memoir, Behind the Sequins, Shirley recalled the ‘hurtful’ moment she learned of the comments that her friend had made.
“As excited as I was by this unexpected turn in my career, I found it a confusing time in some ways, with all the extra attention I started receiving,” she wrote.
“Many people I hadn’t heard from in years took the opportunity to contact me, which was all quite unsettling, and it was definitely a time when I found out who my real friends were.
Shirley continued: “Soon after I got my job on Strictly, a so-called ‘friend’ said to my friend Karen, ‘She may have paparazzi following her. All she needs now is a Mercedes and a tunnel.’
“Karen’s son Henry was with them and he asked, ‘What does that mean?’ Karen, horrified, had to explain to him, ‘That’s how Princess Diana died, it was a terrible tragedy.’
Shirley was absolutely shocked by the comment, and decided to confront her friend over the remark.
“When this was relayed back to me, I was completely shocked. It felt very hurtful and spiteful, with its implication that I was behaving as though I’d got above myself, whereas I knew I’d been keeping very quiet and trying to adjust to my new role.
“Because I knew it was so far from the truth, for once I tackled this person on their tasteless comment. All they had to say in reply was, ‘Oh come on, Shirley, you need to develop a sense of humour.’”
In her explosive book, that was published this month, Shirley also recalled the overwhelming social media response she received after she appeared on the show.
Shirley noted that she had received some vile messages from social media trolls that she would never forget.
She added: “It definitely took some effort on the part of the writer, and I believe it came the day after I’d cast a controversial deciding vote on Strictly.
“I’d probably sent home their favourite and that’s what sparked them off to write such horrible words.”
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