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Strictly Come Dancing: new judge announced!

Len Goodman's replacement has finally been confirmed

by Gemma Strong

The BBC has finally revealed who will be replacing Len Goodman on Strictly Come Dancing. On Tuesday it was announced that Shirley Ballas will be joining the judging panel for the 2017 series. The experienced ballroom dancer was considered one of the outsiders to take on the position, with many fans assuming the role would go to a former Strictly dancer. But Shirley, 56, is said to have impressed BBC bosses with her vast experience as a dance coach and her work on hit US show Dancing With The Stars. What's more, she will also be taking on Len's position as the panel's lead judge, with the power to give the casting vote in the dance-offs.

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

In a statement, Shirley said: "I am so excited and over the moon to have been given this wonderful opportunity. I can't wait to get into the ballroom and be part of the incredible and respected judging panel. Strictly is so loved by the British public. I have always been a massive fan. I just can't wait!"

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Shirley's fellow Strictly judges were quick to share their excitement following the announcement. "Fantastic news that Shirley will be joining me and the other judges on the panel," Craig Revel Horwood said. "I look forward to working with her on the next series of Strictly!" Bruno Tonioli, who has worked with Shirley on a number of occasions, added: "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." Darcey Bussell said: "I look forward to meeting Shirley and welcoming her to our Strictly team. 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."

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She is replacing Len Goodman on the Strictly judging panel

Nicknamed the 'Queen of Latin', Shirley is one of the top and most-decorated professional dancers in the world. By the age of 21, Shirley had won nearly every major title she competed in worldwide, and is a former British Open to the World Champion, European, German, United Kingdom, United States and International Latin American Champion. She is now an acclaimed and highly-respected international coach to many top professional and amateur dancers, as well as a sought-after adjudicator for Ballroom and Latin American competitions around the world. Shirley is also mother to Mark Ballas, musician, Broadway star, professional dancer and two-time winner on Dancing with the Stars in the US.

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