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Who Do You Think You Are? Shirley Ballas
(Image credit: BBC/Wall to Wall Media Ltd/Steph)

Dancer and Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas explores her roots in this week's edition of BBC1's Who Do You Think You Are?

Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas is left very emotional as the revelations come thick and fast in this fascinating detailed delve into her ancestry.

Having heard rumours that she may have had black ancestors, the ballroom champion travels to Cape Town where her great-great grandfather George was born, and discovers her three times great-grandmother, Caroline, was a former slave from Madagascar.

Who Do You Think You Are? Shirley Ballas

Shirley's maternal great grandmother Clara Sutton

Meanwhile, Shirley is upset to discover the stories that have been passed through the generations – about her ‘irresponsible’ great-grandmother, Clara, abandoning her three children to live a party life in America – are far from true.

'The story just wasn’t true. Her husband had died from cancer and left all his money to his own mother, Elizabeth, and nothing to Clara,' reveals Shirley. 'With no income at all, she went to America to find work and left the children with their grandmother because she thought they would have a better life with her.

'Clara had a dreadful life in the States. She remarried and fostered a daughter, but was abused both physically and psychologically by her husband. She was a battered woman who feared for her life,' she adds, clearly upset by the revelation.

'I regret we’d all assumed she was something she wasn’t; it was all tittle-tattle, probably started by Elizabeth. It was upsetting that Clara’s daughter, my mum’s mum Daisy, never knew the truth.'

TV Times rating: ****

 

Mandy Cooper
Mandy Cooper

As TV Times Highlights Editor I get to hear about all the latest TV shows coming soon. Here at TVT HQ we are in the privileged position of selecting the best programmes from across all the channels and streaming platforms. Our mission is to make it easier for our readers to decide what to watch - and give them lots of choice of genres - all the latest shows, plus some nostalgic choices we call hidden gems, too. My career began with a postgraduate degree in periodical journalism (ahem, yes old school!) in 1991 and I’ve worked in TV media since 2000.