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Shirley Ballas applauds Amy Dowden for not wearing wig in Strictly appearance

Shirley Ballas described Amy Dowden as the ‘cheerleader in the pack’ (Matt Crossick/PA)
Shirley Ballas described Amy Dowden as the ‘cheerleader in the pack’ (Matt Crossick/PA) Shirley Ballas described Amy Dowden as the ‘cheerleader in the pack’ (Matt Crossick/PA)

Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas has applauded professional dancer Amy Dowden for not wearing a wig during Saturday’s live show.

Dowden, 33, who has not been partnered with a celebrity on the BBC One show this year, announced in June that she had undergone a mastectomy after discovering she had stage three breast cancer.

The Caerphilly-born dancer spoke to presenter Claudia Winkleman during week three’s show and said she was doing “really well”, revealing that she is over “half way” through her chemotherapy treatment.

Mrs Doubtfire Comic Relief Gala – London
Mrs Doubtfire Comic Relief Gala – London Shirley Ballas (Jeff Moore/PA)

Discussing her appearance on Saturday night’s show, Ballas spoke to the PA news agency and said: “Amy Dowden was a student of mine and I’ve known her all the way from being a juvenile.

“She’s always been an exquisite dancer in every shape and form, but beyond being an exquisite dancer she is the cheerleader in the pack and I think that’s why we all miss her so much because she’s such a happy, bubbly girl.

“I talk to her regularly, I’ve sent her some flowers, (tell) her what’s going on in my day. She lets me know how she’s doing.

“It was fabulous to see her (on Saturday) and I applaud her for not wearing a wig because she wanted to shine light on cancer on young people, all people, but mainly the young people, (and show them) that you’re beautiful no matter how you look. It took courage because she did have her wig there.

“It took courage to do that. So, she’s just an amazing young lady.”

Ballas mentioned that she has written letters to the star and said: “I write about all my daft day to make her laugh when she’s going through her treatments and just trying to lift her spirits a little bit.

“She knows my mum, she knows my son very well and she knows my family. So, I can write her all personal things and she can have a giggle.”

Ballas added: “She wants to give strength to others and I’ve never met a woman like that in my life. She’s amazing.”

The Strictly judge is set to release her new book Murder On The Dancefloor, co-written by Sheila McClure.

The novel follows dance superstar and one-time world champion Lily Richmond as well as former student-turned-private-investigator Susie Cooper as they try to unveil the identity of a murderer.

Speaking about the murder-mystery, Ballas said: “The book is built around sex, lies, intrigue, backstabbing, bed hopping, manipulation, bullying, and a bit of ballroom dancing. Actually a lot of ballroom dancing.”

The former competitive dancer said that she was inspired to write about what the dance industry is like behind the scenes, adding that it is a lot more “sinister” than people realise.

Ballas also revealed plans to write two more books to form a trilogy series.

Murder On The Dance Floor by Shirley Ballas and Sheila McClure  is out on October 12.