Strictly Come Dancing star Shirley Ballas is overjoyed after becoming a new grandmother, but her happiness is tinged with sadness as her grandson Banksi Wylde lives in America. Shirley, 63, who is dating actor Danny Taylor, 20, dotes on dancer son Mark who is married to singer song-writer BC Jean but misses him every day now they live on different continents.
While Mark remains in America, Shirley lives in the UK with her mum Audrey, who is in remission from cancer.
“It’s more difficult for me than even my mum and Danny understand,” she says. “I don’t think they will ever realise the pain of not seeing my son on a weekly basis. I’m sure that all the mums out there that don’t see their loved ones know how it feels.”
Mark is close to his mum and whenever he calls she drops whatever she’s doing to talk to him. So now her grandchild has arrived, her heart aches that she’s not there to watch every gurgle.
“Hopefully, there will be more time on the phone because this, in my eyes, will be the most magical child ever. Whenever he burps, toots, smiles or giggles I’ll be proud!” she explains. “It’s important for me to be able to spend FaceTime with the baby. It’s a priority, but I really don’t think my family understands. I don’t think anybody sits back and thinks, ‘What if I never saw my child for six months?’”
Babies grow and change so quickly that Shirley isn’t sure occasional visits to LA will be enough. One option would be to move back to the States, where she lived for 11 years. “I don’t want to be a part-time grandmother,” she insists. “I want to be there as much as I can be, as much as his mum and dad will allow me to be part of the baby’s life. I could spend six months there and six months here – and I can afford to. I don’t want to miss out on my grandbaby. That is instilled in my head.”
It’s definitely a possibility, but Shirley already has a full timetable in the UK. Not only is she head judge on BBC One’s biggest entertainment show, Strictly Come Dancing , she also appears in the show’s long-running tour. She devotes the remaining six months of the year to dance championships. There are three major events: January’s UK Dance Championships at the BIC Centre in Bournemouth; the Blackpool Dance Festival in May; and in October the industry collects at the Royal Albert Hall for the International Dance Championships.
Shirley also uses this time for her literary endeavours and work for CALM – Campaign Against Living Miserably – Suicide&Co and many other charities that are deeply important to her.
“I’d never want to leave Strictly ,” says Shirley. “I’ll be on TV and on the tour for as long as they’ll have me.
I love Strictly . It’s like a day at Disneyland for me. When it’s ‘lights, camera, action’ I forget everything that’s gone on in the week. But it’s just on a weekend. I can always fly to the States on a Monday and come back on a Friday.”
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