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Shirley Ballas, 63, breaks silence about calling off engagement to 'The One' Danny Taylor, 50

The Strictly head judge has been married twice

Shirley Ballas in a black top and grey blazer with Danny Taylor in a blue jacket
Nichola Murphy
Deputy Lifestyle Editor
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It's been a rollercoaster few years for Shirley Ballas, who said she would marry her partner Danny Taylor "tomorrow" in 2019 before calling off their engagement in 2023 and hinting at their split in 2024. The Strictly Come Dancing head judge revealed she had "changed her mind" about marriage after going through two divorces. Shirley wed Sammy Stopford in 1980 before splitting four years later, and she then tied the knot with Corky Ballas in 1985. The former couple welcomed a son called Mark before separating in 2007.

She said on Alan Carr's 'Life's a Beach' podcast she has no plans to walk down the aisle again, and even suggesting she and Danny called time on their relationship days before she went on a cruise with her mother to Honolulu. HELLO! has contacted her reps for comment. 

"I was in a long-term relationship and he finished with me two days before I went on the cruise. I just remember being in the Waikiki bar with my mother and I was whining and crying and she gave me a huge slap across my face… and said, 'You will not ruin my holiday, get over yourself. [Expletive] happens. I think I was the most miserable on the biggest event that I had prepared for my mother." She added: "Two marriages, an engagement, two long-term relationships later and I will not be getting married again. I’ve made the decision." Join us as we take a look at her on-off marriage plans with Danny and the breakdown of her former relationships…

Shirley and Danny

Shirley Ballas in a black jumpsuit and white jacket with Danny Taylor at The TRIC Awards 2022© Anthony Harvey/Shutterstock
Shirley Ballas and Danny Taylor started dating in 2019 after meeting during pantomime rehearsals

Shirley's love story with Danny began in 2019 when they were both starring in the Christmas pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk at the Liverpool Empire. During an appearance on Loose Women, she revealed their friendship turned romantic after Danny went through a breakup with his ex. "We met on panto as friends. It didn’t really take off until March… for him. I fell in love way before... I think for me it was first sight," she said, adding: "He was going through a difficult time in his relationship. We did become friends and then probably in about February I said, 'I love you Danny' and he said, 'I know'. It took a while."

Their relationship quickly turned serious, with the dancer telling Prima in 2019 that she was waiting for "nervous" Danny to propose. "I would marry him tomorrow, if he asked me. If this is what love is, I have never experienced it before," she said. "He's very kind and very ­caring – he's always there for me. I hope he'll propose one day but he's never married and I think he's a bit nervous about it, so we'll see. Come on, Danny!" 

WATCH: Shirley Ballas gushes about her partner Daniel being 'a present'

Despite her previous marriages, Shirley even went as far as to call Danny 'The One' in an interview with HELLO! in 2021. Speaking about her new man, she explained: "I just love that man I just want to sit there all day and stare at him. He is 'The One'. We have a lot in common and we laugh all the time. He is part of the reason why I readjusted my life. Danny is just so magnificently special. I have met his parents and everybody likes each other. That’s a plus."

Shirley Ballas in a pink suit with a large ring on her left hand© Getty
Shirley Ballas sported a large ring on her left hand

Two years later, she had changed her tune, admitting they had agreed not to get engaged during a "truthful conversation" about the future of their relationship. "I have decided that – with Danny’s blessing – I’m not in a position at the moment where I want to get married. Last year I was ready and wanted to get married – and I thought he was going to ask me. But, for whatever reason, it didn’t happen. 

"We then had a truthful conversation on Valentine’s Day about keeping things as they are, because we decided this works as it is," she told The Mirror, adding that their relationship works as it is, especially since he travels for work and she spends time with her family in the US.

shirley danny© Getty
The Strictly star has announced she has no plans to get married again

She clarified her lack of an engagement ring was not an indication of problems in their relationship, despite recent rumours of their split. "We are still very much in love, care for each other deeply, and we have a good enough relationship where we don’t need to get engaged or married," explained Shirley, before continuing: "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!"

The mother-of-one also discussed her long-distance relationship with the MailOnline at the Copacabana London Cabaret Show, stating: "I've changed my mind" about marriage. Meanwhile, she explained her family circumstances impacted her decision. "I think the only pressure I felt was my own," she told Closer. "As my son [Mark] said, it was me who was pushing to get married. Things changed last year – my mum moved in, and Danny’s not in a place to get married. But we’re good as we are. We’re good friends and that works." 

Shirley and Corky

shirley and corky© Instagram
The dancer was married to Corky for 22 years

Shirley has less than fond memories from her 22-year marriage with her second husband, American ballroom dancer Corky Ballas.

The 63-year-old, who met fellow dancer Corky at a dance competition in Canada, dropped some bombshells about their relationship in her 2020 memoir, Behind The Sequins. As well as claiming he was unfaithful with "multiple girlfriends", Shirley also stated he regularly commented on her weight, even when she was pregnant with their son. According to Shirley, Corky would say: "Get too big and I'm out the door. I don't do fat, Shirley." 

Shirley Ballas and ex husband Corky with their son Mark© Twitter
The couple share a son called Mark

Shirley has made several comments about her low self-esteem, even admitting she had breast implants to try and please her ex-husband. "I've done all sorts to try to make myself feel more confident. I had my teeth straightened and fat drained out of my arms and legs. I thought doing my boobs would make my husband at the time like me more, but I was doing it for the wrong reasons. You have to love yourself first. That's my message to every woman," she said in an interview with Prima.

The Latin dancer later described her marriage as her "biggest regret" while Corky claimed to The Sun in 2017 that his ex-wife had also had affairs with "at least 10 different men."

Shirley and Sammy

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After calling off her engagement to Nigel Tiffany aged 16, the professional dancer married her first husband and fellow dancer Sammy Stopford aged 18. During their four-year marriage, the Strictly star admitted she fell for her second husband. "After winning major trophies with Sammy, something was missing in my life, and then, out of the blue, I met this gentleman named Corky Ballas from Houston, Texas, and I fell in love."

Shirley and Sammy have remained friends since then, with the TV star stating: "Still love him to bits," after enjoying lunch with him in 2017.

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