Entertainment

Who could replace Darcey Bussell as the new Strictly judge?

The dancer is leaving the show after seven years and there are a number of candidates who could slot into her seat.

Dame Darcey Bussell has announced she is stepping down from Strictly Come Dancing, leaving a vacant seat on the judging panel.

We look at some of the people who could take the dancer’s place.

– Karen Hardy

Karen Hardy
Karen Hardy (PA)

The former Strictly professional won the show with Mark Ramprakash in 2006 and was a fixture on the spin-off programme It Takes Two for its choreography corner for 10 series.

Her ballroom honours include winning the International Latin American Dance Championship, the UK Open, British National, European and World Masters Championships and she now owns the Karen Hardy dance studios.

According to bookmakers Coral, she is 2:1 favourite to take over from Dame Darcey.

– Helen Richey

The former ballroom and Latin dancer was a judge on the Australian version of US show Dancing With The Stars for 15 series.

Born in Melbourne, she trained and competed in the UK, where she lived for 27 years.

Many of the professional dancers on Dancing With The Stars have been trained wholly or in part by Richey.

Coral puts Richey’s chances of joining Strictly at 3:1.

– Gary Edwards

Essex-born Edwards attended the same ballroom dance classes as former Strictly judge Len Goodman when he was young.

He now boasts around 30 international titles, including British Open Ballroom and British Open Latin.

The dancer, whose odds are at 5:1, is known for appearing on spin-off show Dancing With The Stars: All Access.

– Ian Waite

Ian Waite on Strictly
Ian Waite (BBC)

The Latin American professional dancer and choreographer was one of Strictly’s dancers for several years, where his celebrity partners included Zoe Ball, Denise Lewis and Jodie Kidd.

Although he never lifted the Glitterball, Waite has been in the final.

His odds are at 6:1.

– Brendan Cole

The bookmaker gives odds of 8:1 that former Strictly dancer Cole will win the empty seat.

The New Zealand-born ballroom star appeared in the first 15 series of the programme, but in 2018 it was announced that his contract had not been renewed.

Cole said at the time that one of the saddest aspects of the decision was that the show would go on and that he would not be a part of it.

“It’s like not being invited to the party,” he said.

– Arlene Phillips

Arlene Phillips
Arlene Phillips (PA)

Choreographer Phillips was a member of the original judging panel between 2004 and 2009, when she was axed.

The BBC was accused of ageism after Phillips was dropped and replaced by younger star Alesha Dixon.

When Len Goodman left the programme in 2016 she said she would consider filling his shoes.

Coral puts her odds at 12:1.

– Anton du Beke

Du Beke, who is known as the King of Ballroom, is also at 12:1.

The popular dancer has appeared in every series of Strictly Come Dancing to date, but is yet to win.

He was a favourite to take over when Goodman stepped down.

– Len Goodman

Len Goodman
Len Goodman (BBC)

Coral has said Goodman is 16-1 to return to the programme.

The star left the dancing show in 2016 after being on the judging panel since it began in 2004.

He was a favourite on the show and became known for uttering catchphrases such as “It’s a 10 from Len”, “pickle my walnuts” and “se-ven!”.

Other contenders suggested by bookies include Abbey Clancy, Julianne Hough, Alesha Dixon, Stacey Dooley and Caroline Flack, who won the show in 2014.

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