Shirley Ballas has said that she fears the trolling she receives on social media during every series of Strictly Come Dancing will be worse this year because of lockdown.
The head judge, 60, said she expected to receive more abuse because people were at home with little to do.
Speaking to the PA news agency, she said: “Going into this next phase of Strictly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the trolling is 10 times worse because people are in lockdown, because we may go into a second lockdown and heaven help us if we do and people are sat at home with nothing more to do.”
Ballas, who is publicising her memoir, Behind The Sequins, recalled how the trolling began when she joined the show in 2017.
She said: “The first year it was very difficult, when people tell you ‘You’ve got a chest like a Seville orange that’s been eaten by a thousand slugs. Ugly bitch, die,’ and people doing coffins with your head on them.
“We (she and her mother) talked about whether I should continue, given the invasion of privacy, but my mother decided we needed to take everything with a sense of humour. So when they laugh at me or call me stupid or thick, I just have to let it go.”
Ballas admitted she could not bring herself not to follow social media.
She said: “I read it and move on from it. Even If I don’t read it, there are plenty of people in my industry who will send it to me.”
She also received a death threat more recently, delivered by hand to where she was appearing in pantomime, she revealed in the book.
It depicted a figure of her digging her own grave, with the message, “Do you realise how much you are hated? The country hates you. How did they ever give a job to someone like you, you old witch”, she wrote.
Coming from a tough housing estate in the Wirral, and with all the bullying she received over her years in the dance industry, she has developed a thick skin, she revealed in the book, noting that while the taunting hurts, she will not show it.
Ballas has confirmed that the Strictly launch night will air on October 17, with the live shows starting on October 24.