Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas has claimed a former friend who was jealous of her BBC role that they wished her a Princess Di-style death.
The dancing queen admitted that she was knocked off her feet by the reaction to her becoming a judge on the hit show.
Shirley, 60, said: “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.
“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.
“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.’
“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 new book Behind the Sequins, Shirley also told how she has been subjected to a torrent of nasty abuse from viewers who don’t agree with her judging decisions.
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She added: “Another challenge for me is all the attention that comes my way on social media.
“Like anyone else, I get my share of messages that are beautiful and much appreciated, but also, at the opposite end of the spectrum, vile comments.
“Just like everyone else in the world, it’s the insults that I remember a lot longer than the compliments.
“When I first started working on Strictly, I hadn’t ever been on social media before, so I wasn’t remotely prepared for how nasty some people can be.
“One of the first messages I ever received said, ‘You’re so ugly, you’ve got a chest like a Seville orange, it looks like it’s been eaten by a thousand slugs. Die, you bitch.’
“I’ll never forget that, as you can tell – I can quote it word for word to this day.
“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.”
Strictly Come Dancing's live shows kick off this weekend on BBC One
- Strictly Come Dancing
- Princess Diana
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