Shirley Ballas has told how she had a furious bust-up with Craig Revel Horwood after he made cruel jibes about her body.
The star slammed her Strictly colleague for making lewd comments about her breasts which left her distraught and “unleashed years of pain”.
In her new autobiography, Shirley, 60, reveals her anguish after Craig made the remarks to a room full of people on a book tour during her second series on the BBC show.
She says: “It was awful and very, very painful. It brought up a lot of things from my past that I thought I’d dealt with.”
And she claims: “Once again, I was propelled back to my toughest days with [ex-husband] Corky, when he would make comments about my appearance: my crooked teeth, my nose, my arse that was too big.
“All those insults just came flying back as I read what Craig had said, apparently in jest.”
Shirley, who joined as head judge in 2017, then had showdown talks with Craig where she “told him exactly how I felt”. She told him: “I’m your colleague. I should feel safe around you. You should feel like a protector to me and I should to you.
“If I have to worry every time you go out that you’re going to talk about me, that doesn’t make me feel good about being on this show.’”
Shirley adds in the book: “I can tell you, when a man makes remarks about a woman’s appearance, what they don’t realise is, they might think it’s funny and other women may even laugh along but it’s not funny at all.
“Women don’t need anyone else to make critical remarks about them – we’re quite critical enough of ourselves without them chipping in.”
Shirley says that Craig apologised profusely and sent her flowers after their bust-up.
She also opens up in the book – called Behind The Sequins – about her volatile marriage to second husband Corky, who she claims used to comment on her weight.
Texan Corky and mother-of-one Shirley were together for 23 years before finally divorcing a decade ago. They won a string of international dancing titles, including the US Latin Championships seven times.
Shirley alleges that when she became pregnant in 1986, Corky told her: “Get too big and I’m out the door. I don’t do fat, Shirley.” She claims: “He started monitoring everything I ate, then he secretly got hold of my doughnut box and hid a large cockroach under the glazing. When I ate my next doughnut, the cockroach crackled in my mouth with the legs dangling on the outside.
“This made me vomit straight away. No doubt he thought this ‘creative’ solution was to ‘save me from myself’ and that I would
ultimately thank him, but for anybody to want to do this to a pregnant woman is hard to believe.”
Shirley describes how they had foul-mouthed slanging matches and she was often sick with stress.
The Strictly judge also tells how she once punched a dancer at a championships who claimed to have slept with Corky. She admits: “I punched her and she rolled away. I’m not proud. All I could hear around me were people whispering, ‘Is that Shirley Ballas?’” The star says that Corky, now 59, later admitted to an affair, which Shirley says left her “shocked and bewildered”.
She claims: “For several years, I had suspected this very thing. I’d voiced my concerns to Corky but he had accused me of going out of my mind.
“He made me question my own sanity to the point where I sought counselling for what I thought were increasingly paranoid thoughts.”
I will never forget dark days of depression
Shirley also opened up about her own battle with depression and anxiety after her brother David committed suicide in 2003 aged 44.
She says of her own struggle: “The panic is terrifying but the loneliness is worse.”
She said she has received medication in the past and things came to a head after she split with ex-husband Corky.
She told how she used to cry ‘uncontrollably’ and “started sinking like a stone, going to a very bleak place, and I wondered was it the same dark hole my brother had often talked about.”
Her doctors prescribed pills to help her sleep and also to get through the day: “I was like a baby’s rattle with everything I was taking.”
Even now, Shirley can sometimes struggle: “I will never forget those dark days. Those feelings still haunt me.”
Shirley Ballas Behind The Sequins (BBC Books/Penguin) is out now.