Entertainment

‘Darling!' – Craig Revel Horwood welcomes Anton Du Beke back as Strictly judge

Bruno Tonioli has left the ballroom series for good.

Craig Revel Horwood has welcomed Anton Du Beke back to the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel, telling him: “Love, love, love you.”

Bruno Tonioli yesterday confirmed he had left the BBC One show for good after 14 years, with Du Beke becoming a regular fixture on the panel after a standing in for him last year.

Appearing on Morning Live on BBC One via video link, Revel Horwood said of the forthcoming series: “Really looking forward to this year, really looking forward to seeing who the Beeb get on there – and so much fun.

Anything Goes arrivals – London
Bruno Tonioli (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“It is great to have Anton with us again, darling. Love you. Love, love, love you.”

Italian dancer and choreographer Tonioli, 66, had been a judge since the popular celebrity ballroom show launched in 2004.

Long-standing pro partner Du Beke sat on the judging panel last year while Tonioli, who is a judge on American series Dancing With The Stars, was unable to take part due to “uncertainty over international travel restrictions” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Asked by Morning Live host Sara Cox whether he would be “the sweet to Craig’s occasional sour”, Du Beke replied: “I am the delicate cheese to his slightly spicy pea, I think,” prompting laughter from the other judges.

He added that he was hoping some of the Covid restrictions of previous seasons could be relaxed: “What I hope we are able to do this year actually, talking about that, is I am hoping we can get rid of the screen because we have had the screens up over the last couple of the years between the judges, and the judges slightly separated.

“I am hoping we can get a bit closer so we can have a bit more chat amongst ourselves.”

Revel Horwood, who now becomes the only remaining original member of the Strictly judging line-up, said he wanted music mogul Simon Cowell to sign up for the new series.

He said: “I think he would be absolutely brilliant. We have a lot of high-waisted outfits. I am sure he would be so much fun on it as well. It would be nice to get to know the real him.”

After actress Rose Ayling-Ellis and her pro partner Giovanni Pernice won the must-see moment award at the TV Baftas this month for their silent dance in tribute to the deaf community, Mabuse reflected on how the show can change attitudes.

She said: “I think Strictly is all about us creating magical moments and connecting. It is something we can all share together and I am so proud that Strictly has shared so many different stories.

“Watching Rose and Giovanni last year, I was like this is such an important moment through dancing, through what we love.

“We get to share it with the world. I get to share it with these beautiful judges.”

Over the years the Strictly judging panel has had a few changes.

Dame Arlene Phillips was a judge from the show’s first season until 2008 and was then replaced by Alesha Dixon in 2009.

Fan favourite Len Goodman stepped down as head judge in 2016 after 12 years on show, and was replaced by the Queen of Latin, ballroom dancer Ballas.

Hosts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman will also return this year.

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