Anton Du Beke to quit Strictly Come Dancing professional role as co-star hints at exit?

Strictly: Craig Revel Horwood reveals if Bruno has left for good

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Anton, 54, has been a professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing since it first aired back in 2004 but he has never managed to win the prestigious Glitterball Trophy. Following his stint as a judge during last year’s season of the BBC dance show, the toe-tapping television star has been invited back to fill in for Bruno Tonioli, 65, for the upcoming competition. Appearing on ITV’s This Morning, Craig, 56, hinted this could be the beginning of the end for Anton’s dancing career on the programme.

During the show’s first socially distanced season last year, Anton took the place of panellist Motsi Mabuse, 40, when she had to make an unexpected trip back to Germany.

With Bruno’s return to the show ruled out – despite the programme not airing for a couple more months – bosses have asked the professional dancer to take his place following the success of his previous stint.

After the news broke on Thursday morning, Craig was the first judge to react to the announcement on television, stating he was “delighted” the stalwart had got the job.

As travel restrictions are making it “too risky” for Bruno to travel between the UK and the US, the critic said: “Well I think it had to be made in order to get the show on the road. You have to make decisions in advance.

“There was a lot of juggling with Strictly last year and really, I think, it’s the best possible solution [to bring someone else in].”

Craig continued: “You know, Bruno is not out, out in that way, he may come back next year, who knows, but I’m so delighted to welcome Anton to the panel.

“[I was] delighted when Anton got the job, I was over the moon, I spoke to him on the way to the studio here today and he’s super excited, as we all are.”

Hinting at Anton’s exit from the professional line-up, the judge added: “And isn’t it about time? There is a point in your life where you have to give up the dance shoes and hang them up at some stage.

“He deserves it. He’s original,” the dance critic explained and it is thought the professional dancer will make his return to the panel in September.

Give up the dance shoes

Craig Revel Horwood

Speaking of his new role, Anton said in a statement: “My loves, I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to be stepping into Bruno’s brogues for the next series of Strictly.

“It’s a dream come true to be judging alongside the best of the best and I promise to be kinder to all the couples than any of them have ever been to me.”

Bruno reacted to the news and shared his thoughts on his replacement, adding: “Whilst I am gutted to not be on the show this year, there is one person and one person only that could take my place – it’s just a shame they weren’t available…haha! Darlings I’m kidding, I’m kidding!

“Seriously though, I have to tell you, Anton is Mr Strictly and if anybody is filling in for me, it has to be him.”

“I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way and I am so excited to see him waggle his paddle,” Bruno said.

There were a lot of calls for Anton to become a permanent fixture on the judging panel following his two-week stint at the desk last year.

One viewer wrote on Twitter at the time: “Sorry to say but #Strictly is missing Anton as a judge! @bbcstrictly Bring Anton back!”

Another posted: “Bring back Anton – we need a fourth judge that isn’t Bruno,” with a third sharing: “Petition to bring back Anton as a Strictly Come Dancing judge.”

With the judging panel completed, fans will now begin waiting to see which celebrity contestants are taking part in the competition.

One of the most recent names to be thrown into the ring is Glow Up host and former BBC Radio 1 presenter, Maya Jama, 26.

According to Coral bookmakers, her chances of signing up are 1/2, with the odds weighing in her favour to win at 6/1.

Coral spokesperson, Harry Aitkenhead said: “Maya Jama has hinted in the past that she would consider taking to the Strictly dance floor and given how popular she is, it could be a no brainer for the BBC.”

Strictly Come Dancing is scheduled to return later this year on BBC One. This Morning airs weekdays at 10am on ITV.

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