By Katie Hind Consultant Writer Showbusiness
17:21 14 April 2023, update 17:41 14 April 2023
The BBC went to war with the Strictly Come Dancing judges over salary demands, telling them: “Read the room, take what we offer or walk away.”
They are believed to be particularly angry with Shirley Ballas, whom some bosses would be happy to see leave the programme.
Company sources told the Daily Mail that they were refusing to grant the request for an 11% pay rise made by her and her co-stars Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Anton Du Beke and feared that the situation is now getting ‘very nasty’ between the BBC and the stars.
The chiefs are also furious that the foursome have ‘unionized’ to get what they want – with many suspecting it is Ms Ballas fueling the fight for more money.
It is also understood they were angry with her for saying publicly that she might not be returning to the show last month, citing the British public’s trolling behind her reluctance to return.
Shirley, who is currently earning £500,000 for her three-month stint on the show, came under fire as a judge last year as she was accused of ageism and sexism.
A BBC insider said: “We can’t justify giving them what they want and that’s up to them.” They can go for it if they want, obviously it’s not the preferred outcome, but they have to read the play.
“Their viewers are genuinely struggling to survive in the midst of a cost of living crisis.
“They’re paid so much as they are and at the moment it looks like they’re not getting any raises at all, so it’s up to them.
“But you can’t see exactly any of them getting paid what they get paid at the BBC elsewhere. The ball is in their court.
“As for Shirley saying she might not return to the show because of trolling, one, we might see her strategy and two, don’t watch Twitter.”
However, sources close to Ms Ballas, 62, have responded to the criticism she, Mr Revel Horwood, 58, Ms Mabuse, 42, and Mr Du Beke, 56, have faced after demanding the pay rise – insisting a pay freeze during Covid means they have earned the same since 2019.
They also argue that the BBC’s strict rules mean they cannot earn extra money from social media endorsement deals, and that they must be available to Strictly throughout the series.
The source said: “The request for a pay rise is because there hasn’t been a pay rise since Covid. People inside and outside the BBC have had annual raises, so Shirley and the other judges think they’re just about entitled to the same.
How much do Strictly judges earn?
Shirley Ballas – £500,000
Craig Revel Horwood – £200,000
Motsi Mabuse – £200,000
Anton Du Beke – £180,000
“Also, being part of Strictly means sacrifices have to be made. Unlike other channels, the BBC does not allow Instagram mentions which are very lucrative.
A BBC spokesperson declined to comment.
It comes after Shirley revealed her son Mark had set rules if she was to return to Strictly later this year, after considering quitting due to mental health.
She said she had to seek medical help for her low mood and anxiety as she struggled to cope with the relentless trolling during last year’s series.
In a new interview, the TV star revealed she went to see her son Mark, 36, for advice on what to do after he recently announced his departure from America’s Dancing With The Stars after 20 seasons.
The star has been subjected to horrific online abuse and cruel taunts about her looks.
But speaking to former Strictly contestant Kaye Adams on the How to be 60 podcast, Shirley revealed Mark had established some ground rules to prevent her from slipping back into depression and anxiety.
“I just got back from seeing Mark and we sat down about the whole thing, ‘do you want to do Strictly again, what were the downsides, the pitfalls for you mum?'” she said.
‘It makes me emotional. He was absolutely fantastic, and he said, “You know, look, everyone understands mommy, it doesn’t matter who you are, what level you are, if you go on social media, someone is going to be trolling, sitting on their computer , it makes their day to make you miserable”.
“He said ‘So if you want to take over Strictly, these are the rules I would follow if I were you’.
“So we sat there for many hours with him and his beautiful wife and I felt a lot better when I walked away from it because after the Strictly tour I took a break.
“I turned down a lot of things that were offered to me for personal reasons and just wanted to clear my head and see what I wanted to do.
Shirley continued, “Do I wanna go on, don’t I wanna go on?” And my son helped me with that. I feel in a much, much better place.
Ballas, who landed the role of head judge in 2017, said she actually made a conscious decision after speaking to her son at the end of his first series to be nicer to contestants.
She said, ‘Well after first year, and talking to my son too, because I said ‘What did you think when you watched me Mark on TV?’, he said ‘ In fact, I backed off mum’.
‘ ‘Ooh, that’s a little harsh,’ he said, ‘these people put their shoes on for three months, it’s not the British open on the world like the mother of the American championships, you can always give a good honest review, thats just the way you do it.
But Shirley said the relentless criticism of her decisions as chief justice has taken its toll.
“I let down the walls and let people in, and then the criticisms got a little harder to take,” she said.
“Last year, social media was second to none – it was pretty tough.
“I remember being at work one day and reposting something someone posted just because I was so mad at all the horrible messages I was getting.
“I reposted it, and then this gentleman got trolled. He contacted my team.
“In the end he and I ended up talking on the phone because I didn’t want him to suffer if you will.
“And he was like, ‘I’m so sorry I wrote that, but you sent home someone we really loved and I just rode up there and ranted.’
“I said, ‘Well, maybe you were just one rant too many for me’.
“I don’t think people realize the effect they can have on someone viewing their social media.
“This year someone else will take care of my social media and I won’t be aware of any of that because it really affected me last year.”
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