Strictly Come Dancing: Who might replace Darcey Bussell?

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Dame Darcey Bussell with Strictly judges Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli and Shirley Ballas

The news that Dame Darcey Bussell is to step down from Strictly Come Dancing has left a giant gap on the judges’ desk.

The former Royal Ballet principal dancer said on Wednesday she is stepping down after seven series to focus on “other commitments” in dance.

Her spokesperson said reports in a tabloid newspaper suggesting she decided to leave because she was embarrassed by “scandals” on the show and pay issues were “categorically untrue”.

Here are eight possible contenders for the plum position on BBC One’s hit show.

Oti Mabuse

A professional Latin American dancer, Oti joined Strictly in 2015 as dance partner to Olympic boxer Anthony Ogogo.

Cast on the show following a stint on ITV’s Let’s Dance, Mabuse quickly won over audiences with her infectious charisma.

Earlier this year she starred as a captain on BBC One’s new talent contest The Greatest Dancer, a commitment that saw her drop out of her Strictly duties in 2018.

Speaking to BBC News in March, the 28-year-old described the experience as “just brilliant”, adding it was “great learning curve” to be “on the other side of the table”.

Ashley Roberts

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The former Pussycat Doll joined last year’s Strictly line-up as a contestant after two years as a judge on ITV’s Dancing on Ice.

She trained in ballet, tap, modern and lyrical dance, and her often flawless performances led some viewers to claim her experience gave her an unfair advantage.

But that training as well as her experience in showbusiness and as a TV judge could all count in the 36-year-old’s favour when Strictly producers fill Dame Darcey’s seat.

Anton Du Beke

Du Beke has been a professional dancer on Strictly since the show began in 2004.

Were he to hang up his dancing shoes, he might be ideally suited to take on a judging role.

The 52-year-old has yet to be a winner on the show, but he reached the final in 2015 when he competed with Katie Derham. The pair finished in fourth place.

He has also been critical of the adjudicators in the past, finding particular fault with US singer Donny Osmond’s role as guest judge in 2014.

“It wasn’t the greatest thing to happen,” he told the Telegraph. “They just need to make sure they have someone from a dance background on the panel.”

Nicole Scherzinger

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Another Pussycat Doll, Nicole won Dancing with the Stars, the US version of Strictly, in 2010.

And she has also form as a talent show judge, albeit on singing rather than dancing contests – The X Factor in both the US and UK, and The Sing-Off in the US.

She’s proved herself in the West End too, earning an Olivier Award nomination for Cats.

Ashley Banjo

Street dancer Banjo shot to fame in 2009 when his troupe Diversity were crowned winners of the third series of Britain’s Got Talent.

The London-born performer and choreographer went on to become a judge on Sky One talent show Got to Dance, which ran for five series between 2009 and 2014.

Having now established himself as a TV judge on Dancing on Ice for the past two series, the talent show specialist could be ready to swap ice for the dancefloor.

Karen Hardy

The former Strictly professional dancer won in 2006 after being paired with cricketer Mark Ramprakash (pictured). She left the programme in 2009, but continued to appear on spin-off Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two.

Her “choreography corner”, where she reviews the previous Saturday programme, has become a staple of the sister show.

She also opened her own London dance school – Karen Hardy Studios – in 2008.

Alfonso Ribeiro

The former Fresh Prince star put in a highly entertaining guest appearance on the Strictly panel when he filled in for Bruno Tonioli on the last series, and has pedigree after winning Dancing With The Stars in 2014.

But his greatest contribution to the world of dance is probably creating the Carlton dance – named after his Fresh Prince character Carlton Banks.

He tried to sue the makers of Fortnite last year, claiming the game copied his moves, before temporarily dropping the legal action.

Helen Richey

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The Melbourne-born former ballroom and Latin dance champion has been a judge on the Australian version of Dancing With The Stars for 15 series.

She trained and competed in the UK, where she lived for 27 years, and was reportedly considered by Strictly producers when Len Goodman left.

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