Who could replace Bruno Tonioli on Strictly Come Dancing? – Rumoured judges ranked

It's uncertain whether Bruno will be able to take his seat on the panel this year due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

Strictly Come Dancing Cheryl

It’s been rumoured that Bruno Tonioli might not be able to take his seat on the Strictly Come Dancing panel later this year.


According to a source, Bruno has dropped out of this year’s series to stay in Los Angeles, due to travel restrictions following the coronavirus outbreak.

The insider told The Sun: “There is no way to travel back and forth at the moment, so he’s told bosses in the UK that unfortunately he will be staying over there.”

As a result, lots of famous names have been dropped as a possible replacement for him, including singer Cheryl – who presenter Rylan Clark-Neal thinks would be the perfect candidate.

Rylan Clark-Neal (Getty)

The 31 year old, who hosts Strictly spin-off It Takes Two with Zoe Ball, told OK! Magazine: “If Bruno does have to stick with Dancing with the Stars, it’ll be really sad and he’ll be really missed. But Cheryl would be great and is lovely. I’ve met her a couple of times and she’s always so sweet, and talks to everyone.”

He added: “I am very low down in the Strictly chain, so my opinion won’t matter at all!”

But is Cheryl the best girl for the job? With all the rumours that Bruno might not be returning, we had a look at all the celebs who have been tipped to replace him, including Chezza.

Here’s who we think should keep his seat warm.

Arlene Phillips

arlene phillips

Coming in first place is choreographer and former dancer Arlene Phillips, who if you ask us, is the best woman for the job. She was on the original judging panel when the show first aired in 2004, and worked there for five years, so she already knows the ropes. But let’s not forget her expertise and knowledge of the dance industry. She’s judged multiple dance competitions, including So You Think You Can Dance, and has an extensive choreography CV. So if there’s anyone who knows a thing or two about dancing, it’s Arlene.

Anton Du Beke

Strictly Come Dancing pro Anton du Beke

It would mean giving up his role as a professional dancer on the BBC Once show, which he’s worked on since the show’s beginning. But now could be a great time for Anton to hang up his dancing shoes and take a seat on the panel if he was considering a career change. Having danced on the show for 16 years, Anton has an advantage over the other judges, and fans think he could be a great fit for the role.

Oti Mabuse

Oti Mabuse (Getty)

Like Anton, professional dancer Oti could combine her dance knowledge and experience of being partnered with celebs to make the perfect judge.  As well as this, she already has judging experience, having worked on the BBC’s The Greatest Dancer for two years, so it would come naturally to her. There is one slight issue, however, as her sister Motsi is already a judge on the panel so we’re not too sure how this would affect the dynamics – but we love any excuse to see the Mabuse family even more.

Kevin Clifton

Kevin Clifton

He left Strictly earlier this year after dancing on the show for seven years. At the time, Clifton said it was time to “move on and focus on other areas” in his life. We guess he’d not want to be working on Strictly, but technically this is something new. Either way we think he’d make a great judge. He had a very successful stint on Strictly, winning the glitterball with Stacey in 2018, and coming second four times. So, he knows what it takes to go far on the show. Could this be a potential job op for Kev? We wouldn’t say no!

AJ Pritchard

AJ Pritchard Strictly 2019 (BBC)

The pro-dancer quit Strictly earlier this year to focus on his TV presenting career alongside his brother Curtis. But wouldn’t it be nice to see some fresh blood on the panel? OK, he’s nowhere near the level of Bruno, who has been working in the industry from before AJ was even born. But if the four years he was on Strictly are anything to go by, AJ could make a pretty good judge. He reached the semi-finals every year except one, and came in fourth place with Olympic gymnast Claudia Fragapane in his debut year. Plus, he’d only be keeping the seat warm for when Bruno is able to return, meaning he can go on to develop his career after.

James Jordan

James Jordan on Dancing on Ice, ITV

He appeared as professional dancer on the show from 2006 t0 2013, so James does have some experience under his belt when it comes to Strictly. But is he the right replacement for the loveable Bruno who has worked on Strictly for 16 years and also acts as judge on the American version? Probably not! James is a great dancer that’s for sure, which is probably why some fans might like him to return to the show. But, he is also known for being pretty outspoken, which might not go down too well with other Strictly fans.


Cheryl (Getty)

It’s believed that 36-year-old Cheryl could take Bruno’s place alongside Craig Revel Horwood, Shirley Ballas and Motsi Mabuse on for the first few weeks of the series with bookies slashing the odds for her to appear on the show. It’s no secret, Cheryl’s career has gone from strength-to-strength since she won Popstars: The Rivals in 2002 with Girls Aloud. Aside from The X Factor, Cheryl has also sat behind the judges’ desk on BBC dance show The Greatest Dancer. But unfortunately, when it comes to Strictly, something just doesn’t feel right. She’s a singer first and foremost, and her dancing expertise is more focused on the contemporary genre – an area that isn’t particularly judged on Strictly. So while we do love to see a bit of Chezza on TV, it’s a no from us on this one.

Stacey Dooley

Stacey Dooley

Her stint on Strictly in 2018 saw her win the Glitterball, which there’s no denying she won hands down. But to be frank, we just don’t think that’s enough when it comes to sitting on the highly coveted panel of Strictly. Bruno is an Italian choreographer, ballroom and Latin dancer, while Stacey is best known for producing hard-hitting documentaries. She might just need a bit more dancing experience to fill Bruno’s shoes. Maybe next year, Stace?

Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC One in Autumn. To find out what else is on in the meantime, check out our TV Guide.