Darcey Bussell has announced that she will be stepping down as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing.
The BBC confirmed that the Strictly judge and “British dance icon” will be leaving the BBC1 judging line-up after seven years on the show.
Bussell emphasised that her decision was not “because of any upset or disagreement at all”, but that she wanted to focus on her other dance commitments.
It has not yet been announced who will replace her.
Bussell said in a statement that while she was leaving as a judge, she hoped she would be invited back on to the show in the future.
“It has been a complete privilege for me to be part of Strictly, working with such a talented team. I have enjoyed every minute of my time and will miss everyone from my fellow judges, the presenters, the dancers, the musicians, the entire back stage team, and especially the viewers of the show, who have been so supportive,” Bussell said.
ANALYSIS – by Eleanor Bley Griffiths
She may not be part of the original line-up like Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood, but over the past seven years Darcey Bussell has become a key member of the Strictly judging panel. The Royal Ballet’s former principle dancer and celebrated ballerina is always on the lookout for musicality and grace alongside technique, and her constructive criticism is usually laced with compassion and a few words of kindness. It is a genuine shame to see her hand in her scoring paddles and step away from the show.
But Strictly Come Dancing has been here before. Len Goodman retired at the end of 2016 – and the BBC’s flagship entertainment show was certainly strong enough to survive that transition and the arrival of Shirley Ballas as new Head Judge, despite initial worries from fans. I have no doubt that, with the right replacement for Darcey, Strictly will continue to dominate Saturday nights.
“I am not leaving because of any upset or disagreement at all, I am just stepping away to give more focus to my many other commitments in dance, after seven truly wonderful years that I can’t imagine having gone any better.
“I know I will miss being part of this unique show and the fact that it celebrates dance is something I am so passionate about. I hope that I may be very lucky to be asked back again one day,” she concluded.
Craig Revel Horwood, Dame Darcey Bussell, Shirley Ballas and Bruno Tonioli on the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel in 2018 (BBC)
Bussell joined the Strictly Come Dancing judging line-up in 2012 following the departure of Alesha Dixon.
The BBC’s director of content Charlotte Moore paid tribute to Bussell, saying that she “will of course remain part of the Strictly family in the future”.
“It has been an absolute honour to have Darcey, a national treasure and British dance icon, bring her passion for dance and her graceful presence to the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel for seven consecutive years,” Moore said.
Strictly is set to return for a 17th series later in 2019.