To everyone's dismay, Strictly Come Dancing's head judge Len Goodman announced he was departing the hit BBC1 show last year. But he has now been replaced by Shirley Ballas, the BBC announced on Tuesday 9 May.

The 56-year-old is a professional British ballroom dancer, teacher and adjudicator and will be the second female judge after Darcey Bussell.

Despite being an experienced and well-known dancer, Ballas is hardly a household name.

Though she must have something fresh to offer as she beat out competition from rumoured contenders including Arlene Phillips, Brendan Cole, Gary Edwards and Anton Du Beke.

Ballas will add a new professional angle to the judging panel as she specialises in the International Latin division where she won several championship titles. She soon earned her nickname "The Queen of Latin."

Twice-married Ballas was raised in Wallasey, Merseyside, in the UK and was first wed to her professional dance partner Sammy Stopford. The couple came second in the 1982, 1983 and 1985 Professional World Latin Dance Championships and won the 1983 International Latin American Dance Championship.

But Ballas has experienced the ''Strictly curse'' herself. She divorced Stopford in 1984 and went on to marry Corky Ballas, another Latin ballroom dancer from Texas who holds several championship titles.

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Judge Len Goodman from Strictly Come Dancing Stuart Wilson/Getty Images

Together they had son Mark Ballas, now 30, who is a professional dancer on Dancing with the Stars.

Ballas and her second husband won the International Latin American Dance Championship together in 1995 at the Royal Albert Hall in London after they first met at a Latin competition in Montreal, Canada. They then moved to Houston, Texas, to compete in the US.

Goodman, 73 – who runs a ballroom dance school in Kent – starred on the dance competition show for 12 years, beginning in 2004 as head judge. He appeared in every series of the show and flashed his grading cards alongside a panel comprising Bussell, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood in the 2015 series.

He previously told BBC bosses that the end of 2016's run was the right time to "hand the role of head judge to someone else."