Shirley Ballas breaks down in tears discussing her brother's death on BBC documentary

Shirley Ballas

On last night's, Comic Relief Kilimanjaro: The Bigger Red Nose Climb, Strictly judge Shirley Ballas found herself overwhelmed with emotion.

The 58-year-old had joined the likes of Ed Balls, Anita Rani, and Dani Dyer, for a trek up Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania - the highest mountain in Africa - in aid of Comic Relief.

And it seems the climb was an emotional experience for Shirley, as she spoke about the loss of her brother, David, to suicide.

Speaking to the camera, she revealed that the memory of David was keeping her going during the climb, as she'd been motivated to take part in his memory.

She said, "While I’m clearly struggling with the camping for sure, I’ve been comfortable in the boots, the outfit, all good, except when we came on the camp.

“But I try to keep my brother in the forefront of my mind. I mean, he’s a big reason I did this, and I’m getting a little emotional."

She then met with one man named Paul during the trek, who also battled against suicidal thoughts, eventually overcoming them with help from the mental health charity Calm, which Comic Relief raises money for.

While speaking to Paul, Shirley became teary-eyed, confessing to the cameras, “I need a minute."

She went on explaining how her brother had fought against his own mental health issues. Shirley told Paul, “My brother took his own life. You know, he was a young man, 44.

"He was like my bother, my father, my best friend and was lonely, he felt low. He said like he’d got into a dark hole, he couldn’t get out of.”

The former professional dancer continued to say that she wished her brother had found some help during his lowest moments. “I’d call him on the phone and tell him, ‘Come on David, you’re going to be fine,’ because I was uneducated so that’s why in some ways I blame myself.

“I can only imagine 16 years ago, if my brother would’ve had somewhere to go, somebody to talk to, somebody to share his feelings.

"I truly believe in my heart today, he would still be here."

Shirley also shared what it meant to her to speak to Paul, revealing that the whole experience was like a "legacy" to David.

Amy Hunt
Amy Hunt

Amy Hunt is Life Channel Editor at, having been with the brand since 2015. She began as the magazine's features assistant before moving over to digital as a News and Features Writer, before becoming Senior Writer, and now a Channel Editor. She has worked on either women's lifestyle websites previously too—including Woman's Weekly,, Woman, and Woman's Own. In 2019, Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards, for her work on She is passionate about everything from books, to homes, to food and the latest news on the royal family. When she isn't editing or updating articles on cleaning, homewares, the newest home gadgets, or the latest books releases for the website, she's busy burying her nose in a gripping thriller, practising yoga, or buying new homeware of her own.