Strictly Come Dancing star Shirley Ballas almost caused the internet to break when she finally went public with her relationship with actor Danny Taylor.

Last year, the rumour mill was sent into overdrive as speculation grew to suggest the pair had grown close during their Panto stint for Jack and The Beanstalk.

Shirley, 60, had been cast as the Fairy Godmother while her soon to be beau Danny, 48, had landed the role of the evil villain.

During the production, the pair sparked up a bond and were often spotted lapping up some lavish dates together.

Although the couple seem to be the picture of happiness, it hasn't always been so rosy.

Shirley and Daniel first met when they featured in the pantomime Jack and The Beanstalk
Shirley and Daniel first met when they featured in the pantomime Jack and The Beanstalk

The BBC judge and Danny boast a 12-year age gap and from the very off it seemed to cause some tension between the pair.

Early on, Shirley knew she had to outline her concerns as she sat down with her younger man to relay her fears.

She later admitted that she spent many days and hours agonising over the fact that she was the older women in the relationship.

It didn't help that she had listened to the nasty and negative comments from online trolls, who had claimed she was too old for Daniel.

Shirley and Daniel sparked up an instant connection but struggled at first with the age gap
Shirley and Daniel sparked up an instant connection but struggled at first with the age gap

After feeling like they constantly had to explain their romance because of the significant bridge in age, Shirley became angry at the situation.

The English ballroom dancer also felt offended by those who had branded her new boyfriend a "toy boy".

At the time, she opened up to Saga magazine, conveying her thoughts and emotions in the tell-all-interview.

She fumed: "It makes me cross when he is described as a toy boy.

"He is a 47-year-old grown man who can make his own choices. He is not 18. You can have a man who is 25 years older than his girlfriend and no one says anything."

Shirley and Daniel who have a 12-year age gap struggled at first after going public due to online trolls suggesting she was too old for him
Shirley and Daniel who have a 12-year age gap struggled at first after going public due to online trolls suggesting she was too old for him

Continuing, Shirley explained: "When I first got together with Danny it was an issue for me, and we sat for many hours talking about it.

"I don't want to go into a relationship that can't go anywhere. I don't want his son, aged eight, to get to know someone who is here today and gone tomorrow."

Over the course of the last year, the Latin American champion continuously hailed her partner as her partner as a hero for boosting her self-esteem.

Following two failed marriages previously, Shirley confessed that somewhere along the line she'd lost her confidence.

Since then, the Shirley and Daniel managed overcome their initial age gap concerns and are stronger than ever
Since then, the Shirley and Daniel managed overcome their initial age gap concerns and are stronger than ever

Shirley was first married at the age of 18 to dancer Sammy Stopford, but after just four years together, the pair decided to go their separate ways.

The Queen of Latin, later met her match with ballroom pro and fellow choreographer Corky Ballas and the pair tied the knot in 1985.

It wasn't meant to be and Corky and Shirley's marriage broke down in 2007 after 22 years together.

Since her second failed marriage, the dance adjudicator very kept her private life completely out of the spotlight until she finally felt liberated and totally "free" to be herself with Danny last year.

Shirley even hailed her boyfriend for setting her "free" after she battled confidence issues for years
Shirley even hailed her boyfriend for setting her "free" after she battled confidence issues for years

After years of worrying about staying covered up, the dance teacher revealed that that she was totally happy within her own skin, suggesting that the former Brookside soap star had helped her to overcome her worries.

Previously speaking to Platinum magazine, she told the publication: "With Danny I can truly, truly, truly be myself.

"I have no inhibitions. It would have been dressing gown on, trying to put the dress on without even showing a little bit of flesh and now it's like I'm free! I'm free!"

After two failed marriages, Shirley feels that she can "finally be herself" with Daniel
After two failed marriages, Shirley feels that she can "finally be herself" with Daniel

The Dancing with the Stars pro added: "He's taught me that God made each woman unique and that’s what makes you special. When you're a teenager, it's more physical first and then you get to know each other.

"What happened with Danny and I, we got to know each other first and at my age, the most important thing was the intellectual side of it, the fact that he was such a good person."

Elaborating further on their close connection and passion, she gushed: "It's an electric connection, like a magnet.

"We want to talk to each other all the time, we want to be in each other's company all the time, we want to go out of our way to see each other."