Tuesday, May 9, 2017


The new head judge in Strictly Come Dancing, Shirley Ballas, began life as Shirley Annette Rich in Wallasey, in September 1960. Father left home when she was two. At seven, Shirley was attending Brownies, spotted a ballroom dance class in an adjacent room, and persuaded mother she should start straightaway.

She got her first medals aged eight, with girl partner Irene Hamilton. At eleven, Ormskirk based- ballroom teacher Margaret Redmond paired her with David Fleet. The couple travelled to competitions around the north west by bus and train. Shirley was at St George's Secondary Modern in Leasowe, and, at 15 began a partnership with British Ballroom champion Nigel Tiffany, in North Yorkshire. At 16 she got a job as an office junior in a solicitors' office, and also the same year got engaged to Nigel. A year later they moved to London - but there was trouble on the dance floor -Nigel was traditional Ballroom, Shirley's urges were Latin....

So when another renowned teacher, Nina Hunt, suggested a try-out with established Latin professional Sammy Stopford. Nina said "Do you want to get married or dance?” Nigel got the hump; and Shirley won her first major title with Sammy, The United Kingdom Closed Championship, at the age of 18.

And it was with Sammy that Shirley made it to tv. Here's a billing for Come Dancing, BBC1, Sunday 2 November 1980, at the dead end of the schedule - 2250.

Come Dancing
Wales is the host for this week's programme where Scotland crosses the border to compete against the Home Counties North in this inter-regional dancing competition. Professional demonstration by Sammy Stopford and Shirley Rich
Introduced by Peter Marshall
Commentary by Bruce Hammal
Director Simon Betts
Producer Rick Gardner

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