Who Do You Think You Are?

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Shirley Ballas

Series 15 - Episode 5 Shirley Ballas



Strictly head judge Shirley Ballas, who grew up on Merseyside, has been led to believe that “my maternal great-grandmother, Clara, was a bit of a party girl and emigrated to America. And I heard a whisper that I have black ancestry.” It’s a very intriguing story, but it doesn’t take long for her to change her mind about Clara, who wasn’t a hellraiser at all and didn’t have the happiest of lives. Ballas is fairly unruffled until this point. “From now on my family will look at Clara in a different light,” she sniffles.

Her investigations take her to South Africa, where she hopes to learn something about her paternal great-grandfather, but she also manages to uncover some extraordinary things even further back in her family tree. “I was not expecting that! How amazing,” she exclaims when she hears about her origins and heritage. “My roots could be well spread out… definitely not a simple line.”


Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas investigates a family story that said her maternal great-grandmother abandoned her husband and children for a more exciting life in America, and what she discovers casts her relative in a completely new light. The ballroom dancer and teacher also pursues a rumour that she has black ancestors on her father's side - and follows a trail that leads her to colonial Cape Town and the era of slave trafficking to South Africa by way of the Indian Ocean.

Cast & Crew

Actor Shirley Ballas
Director Paul Tilzey
Executive Producer Colette Flight
Series Producer Sarah Feltes