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Shirley Ballas shock favourite to replace Len Goodman as Strictly judge – years after hubby left her for former pro Kristina Rihanoff

DANCING queen Shirley Ballas is the favourite to replace Strictly’s Len Goodman after dazzling bosses at a secret screen test.

The Brit — a former judge on American version Dancing with the Stars — was a “complete natural” during auditions, a source said.

Judge on US spin-off in 2009. Son Mark, 30, with second husband Corky is a pro on that show

She even outshone job rivals, show favourites Anton Du Beke and Brendan Cole, who also tried out.

Incredibly, Shirley, 56, has already been touched by the Strictly love curse.

Her dancer ex-husband Corky Ballas, 56, left her for former Strictly pro Kristina Rihanoff after he became her teacher in 2003.

Shirley is the favourite to replace Strictly’s Len Goodman, second left, after dazzling bosses at a secret screen test
Getty Images

Sources said producers are keen for a woman to join the panel alongside old hands Darcey Bussell, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood.

Last week’s try-outs at the Strictly studios in Elstree, Herts, also saw turns from ex-pro Karen Hardy and Ireland’s Dancing with the Stars judges Loraine Barry and Brian Redmond.

Chief Strictly choreographer Jason Gilkison screen-tested too.

Shirley’s ex-husband Corky Ballas left her for former Strictly pro Kristina Rihanoff, pictured above with Corky
Sources said producers are keen for a woman to join the panel alongside old hands Darcey Bussell, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood
PA:Press Association

But the insider said: “Shirley had by far the best screen test and was a natural.

“Producers want her to replace Len because of her wealth of experience both in the dance world and already being a judge on the telly.

“But nothing has been signed off yet — top BBC bosses have to give the final approval as this has become its ­biggest talent job vacancy.”

Shirley won the International Latin American Dance Championship with her first husband and partner Sammy Stopford in 1984.

Try-outs at the Strictly studios in Elstree, Herts, also saw turns from Ireland’s Dancing with the Stars judges Loraine Barry and Brian Redmond
Not known refer to copyright holder

She divorced second hubby Corky in 2007 but his relationship with Kristina is said to have fizzled out the following year — her first season on Strictly.

Kristina, 39, is now with former England rugby star Ben Cohen, 39. They were partnered on the show in 2013 and have a daughter together.

Last night a BBC spokeswoman said: “As yet no one has been offered the role of Strictly’s new judge.”

Brian Redmond

Ex-ballroom dancer and ‘nasty’ judge on Ireland’s Dancing with the Stars

Loraine Barry

Top dance performer with 50 national and international titles to her name

Jason Gilkison

The Aussie is a dark horse in job race. Popular behind the scenes at Strictly studios

Brendon Cole

New Zealander has been on every Strictly series. A Latin American specialist

Karen Hardy

Strictly pro from 2005 to 2009 and now an expert on spin-off It Takes Two

Anton Du Beke

A pro on Strictly from the first series. Bookies’ favourite to replace Len

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https://www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/3432792/shirley-ballas-favourite-to-replace-len-goodman-as-strictly-come-dancing-judge-years-after-hubbys-fling-with-kristina-rihanoff/