Strictly bosses say hiring Motsi Mabuse was a “no-brainer”

Motsi Mabuse has replaced Darcey Bussell, who left Strictly after seven years on the judging panel

Motsi Mabuse (Getty)

Strictly 2019 has undergone a number of changes with sister show It Takes Two welcoming Rylan Clark-Neal into the fold, and Graziano Di Prima and Gorka Marquez not included in the pro dancer line-up.

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But, the biggest change is on the judging panel, with Latin dance champion Motsi Mabuse replacing Darcey Bussell, who confirmed she was leaving the show after six years.

Motsi’s appointment sparked controversy, with Strictly fans claiming she may show preferential treatment to her sister, Oti, who is a professional dancer on the show.

But a BBC boss has now said that bringing Motsi onto Strictly for 2019 was simply a “no brainer”.

Motsi Mabuse (BBC)

Speaking at the Strictly Come Dancing press launch, Kate Phillips, the BBC controller for entertainment commissioning said: “I get asked a lot about why I picked Motsi, and I just wanted to make it all clear to everyone today.

“When Darcey said it was time for her to bow out, we all were left wondering how we were going to replace such a class act. She’s always going to part of the Strictly family, but we knew we were going to have a real challenge on our hands.

“We spent a long time talking to a lot of talent from the dance world, screening a lot of people. And it’s the honest truth that when we saw Motsi’s screen test, we were all just blown away.”

She continued: “The simple reason why we picked her was because she was just the best person of the job. That screen test combined with her already good judging and dancing credentials made it a no-brainer.

“I cant wait to see her in action, I think it’s actually going to be really brilliant.”

Motsi herself has said she has wanted to shake up Strictly, and has backed the call for same-sex couples on the show.

“Strictly is probably aware of the changes that are happening socially,” she told former contestant Naga Munchetty for the Radio Times magazine.

Referring to her time as a judge on Let’s Dance, the German version of Strictly, Mabuse added: “In Germany, we’ve completely gone that way. We’ve had two ladies dance together [singer Lukas Rieger and professional dancer Katja Kalugina, who were paired together in 2019].

“The ratings proved the point that sometimes, if you risk something, it pays off. It might go wrong – but at least you tried. The worst thing you can do is stay on the same spot. I respect traditions but you need to keep developing.”

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Strictly Come Dancing launches Saturday at 7.10pm on BBC 1. The competition launches on 21st September.