Strictly’s Shirley Ballas tells Chris Evans about her raunchy debut book and its unbelievable real-life inspirations

Virgin Radio

12 Oct 2023, 12:08

Virgin Radio

Strictly Come Dancing’s Shirley Ballas teased audiences and Chris Evans alike when she popped into the Virgin Radio studios to discuss her first book, Murder on the Dancefloor.

“I wanted to shed some light behind the scenes and write this mystery of sex, lies, intrigue, backstabbing, bed hopping [and] ballroom dancing,” Shirley said while speaking on The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with cinch.

As well as being a gripping murder mystery, Shirley’s book - which she wrote with romcom and cosy crime writer Sheila McClure - is filled with sexy stories, some of which she revealed originate from her very own life and which were deemed too raunchy for her to include in her autobiography. 

“I talked to my mum [about the stories] and she was like: ‘Well, how about you write it in fiction?’” the 63-year-old revealed. “And then the audience has to guess you know: ‘Did I really do that? Did I witness it? Or is it fiction?'”

Inspired by this idea, Shirley began working on her first novel. As she explained later in the interview: “When I got my writer, Sheila… we sat down and I started sharing the stories and her jaw dropped to her feet…

“‘That couldn’t have happened Shirley’ ‘Oh yes it did!’” Shirley said of their conversation, but later she gushed about how Sheila had helped her bring the story she wanted to tell to life.

Shirley also revealed that her mother proofread her first draft and helped the ballroom dancer re-draft the ending, which she added no one she knows has successfully predicted yet.

While the Strictly judge was careful to guard against giving any hints as to which stories in the book are based on her life and which were fictional, she did tell Chris “I’m [lead character] Lily, I’ll give you that.”

Speaking about the often heated environment of the dancefloor, Chris revealed his parents had met while dancing.

“That was the speed dating of [my dad's] day,” he said. “Because my mum said, you could tell everything you need to know about a man for at least the next 10 years by dancing with him for 10 minutes.”

Amused, Shirley agreed, adding: “When you’re attracted to somebody… sparks fly - as within my book - it gets heated.”

Murder on the Dancefloor is the first novel in a new series from Shirley called The Sequin Mysteries. The first novel is set in Blackpool, and Shirley told Chris she's hoping the next will be set at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Shirley and her co-author Shelia are currently touring the UK discussing their new book, which was released today, Thursday, 12th October.

For more great interviews listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with cinch weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.