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What happened to Strictly’s past judges as Anton Du Beke joins line-up

The Strictly Come Dancing judging panel undergoes another reinvention for the 2021 series as Anton Du Beke swaps his dancing shoes for a score paddle – but what happened to the judges that came before him?

What happened to Strictly’s past judges as Anton Du Beke joins line-up

Strictly returns to our screens this Saturday with professional dancer Anton Du Beke make his debut as a judge alongside Shirley Ballas, Motsi Mabuse and Craig Revel.

Du Beke, 55, is the latest in a long line of famous faces, including former singer Alesha Goodman, choreographer Arlene Phillips and ballet legend, Darcey Bussel, to bag a seat on the coveted panel.

As the dancer prepares to judge his former co-stars, we look at what his predecessors have been up to since leaving the BBC One show.

Did they leave the ballroom firmly behind them or did they keeeep dancing?

Len Goodman

The original Strictly line-up featured Bruno Tonioli, Arlene Phillips, Len Goodman and Craig Revel Horwood

The legendary ballroom dancer was Strictly’s beloved head judge from 2004, when the first series kicked off until he quit in 2016 explaining it was ‘time to hand the role of head judge to someone else’.

Len, who was replaced by current head judge Shirley Ballas, was infamous for his no-holds-barred critiques of contestants.

He also had a series of well-loved catchphrases, with the dancing hopefuls hoping to ‘pickle his walnuts’ or landed a coveted ‘ten from Len.’

He still gives a tongue lashing to wannabe dancers, but on the panel of Dancing With The Stars – the American version of Strictly – where he has been head judge since it’s first series in 2005.

A ‘ten from Len’ was the mark of a show-stopping performance

Last year, however, the 77-year-old, who occasionally presents a Sunday afternoon music show on BBC Radio 2 during some of comedian Paul O’Grady’s weeks off, did not film the show as COVID-19 restrictions prevented travel to the US and he was stationed in the UK.

He will be back in his role on September 20 when Dancing Of The Star premieres.

Dame Arlene Phillips DBE

Straight-talking Arlene Phillips took no prisoners

The renowned choreographer was on the Strictly judging panel from it’s first series in 2004 until 2008.

Her sudden departure caused a scandal with the BBC, that was accused of sacking her and appointing the younger Alesha Dixon as her replacement amid allegations of age discrimination.

Since then Arlene, who has made no secret of her upset about losing Strictly and her desire to return, appeared on several episodes of Loose Women in 2010 as a guest panellist and wrote a series of six fictitious children books about dancing.

The judges line-up underwent a shake-up when Arlene left



Arlene also returned to work at the BBC and became a judge on dance show So You Think You Can Dance? alongside former Strictly contestant Louise Redknapp.

In 2017, she organised a dance gala to raise money for those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire and included dancers from Strictly and The Royal Ballet.

Alesha Dixon

Alesha Dixon’s appointment caused some controversy

The former Misteeq singer and Strictly 2007 champion replaced choreographer Arlene Phillips on the panel in 2009 in a cloud of controversy.

Her appointment was blamed on ageism geared against Arlene, despite the BBC’s announcement that it was an attempt to refresh the long-running show.

The 42-year-old star, whose performance on the panel had a mixed reception from viewers, eventually quit the show in 2011 to become a judge on rival ITV talent show Britain’s Got Talent where she has remained since.

Ashley joined the line-up two years after winning the show



Since her Strictly stint, she has also released new music, become a mother to two daughters with her husband, former backup dancer, Azuka Ononye, 40, done a one-off series of America’s Got Talent: The Champions.

She was recently announced as a judge on the tenth series of Australia’s Got Talent.

Dame Darcey Bussell DBE

The famed prima ballerina, who famously spent her entire dance career with The Royal Ballet, joined the judging panel in 2012 to replace Alesha Dixon.

After becoming a huge hit with her co-stars and fans, Darcey shocked viewers she she announced she was quitting the show in 2018.

The dancer assured that she was leaving to “give more focus to my many other commitments in dance” and not “because of any upset or disagreement at all.”

Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell, Shirley Ballas, Bruno Tonioli



She was replaced by South African dancer Motsi Mabuse – sister of Strictly professional Oti Mabuse.

Darcey, now 52, received an honorary Fellowship from Arts University Bournemouth in 2018 and is currently the president of the Royal Academy of Dance, has stayed largely out of the spotlight since leaving Strictly.

She is said to be enjoying spending quality time with husband Angus Forbes and their children, Phoebe Olivia and Zoe Sophia.

However, earlier this year she presented a four-part travel series Darcey Bussell’s Wild Coasts of Scotland for Channel 4.

Bruno Tonioli

Bruno Tonioli is known for providing flamboyant responses to the contestants’ efforts

One of Strictly’s most eccentric and dramatic judges, had been a fixture on the show since its first series.

A fan favourite, viewers were disappointed to learn that the sparky Italian choreographer, ballroom and Latin dancer, would not appear on the judging panel in 2020 due to the pandemic.

It was then announced that he would be replaced for the upcoming series by Anton Du Beke, something Bruno said he was ‘sad and frustrated’ about.

Bruno leaps out of his seat in excitement

He is unable to be part of the Strictly 2021 due to restrictions preventing him from travelling to and from the US, where he judges Dancing With The Stars alongside Len Goodman.

He said of Anton’s appointment: ‘Anton was the obvious choice to replace me. I was never asked my opinion, but I wasn’t surprised. He was desperate to get that judging role, so I’m sure he is delighted.’

Strictly Come Dancing 2021 starts on Saturday September 18 at 7.45pm on BBC One

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