The 2020 series of Strictly Come Dancing is just around the corner, with a new cohort of celebs set to compete for the Glitterball trophy in this year’s COVID-adapted series.
While the pandemic has meant that we’re seeing a very different Strictly this series – with a reduced studio audience and smaller line-up – arguably one of the biggest changes will be the absence of long-time judge Bruno Tonioli, who is prevented from travelling to the UK to film the BBC show due to COVID.
So which ballroom experts should we expect to see judging the Strictly Come Dancing line-up? And who could be filling Bruno’s coveted spot? Here’s everything you need to know about the fabulous judges of Strictly Come Dancing.
Ballroom champion Shirley Ballas became Strictly’s head judge in 2017 following the departure of Len Goodman, making her first appearance on the show during the launch of series 15.
The 60-year-old began dancing at the age of seven and went on to win the ‘British Open to the World’ Latin American Championship three times – becoming the youngest woman to reach the finals – as well as the US Latin American competition ten times.
Often declared as The Queen of Latin, Ballas frequently appeared on Dancing with the Stars, the US version of Strictly, giving masterclasses and providing commentary whilst her son, Mark Ballas, was a professional dancer on the show. She has since become known for her encouraging critiques and sunny demeanour on Strictly.
Craig Revel Horwood
Australian-born ballroom dancer Craig Revel Horwood has been a Strictly staple since day one, joining the long-running dance competition in its first series. The 55-year-old has since appeared as a judge on the past 17 series and will be returning to the panel for the upcoming shows.
Horwood began his dancing career as a dancer in Melbourne, appearing in musicals such as West Side Story, La Cage Aux Folles and Me and My Girl. He soon moved to UK to star on the West End and choreographed a variety of shows, from Calamity Jane to Beautiful and Damned.
The performer has since earned a reputation as being one of the harshest judges on Strictly Come Dancing due to his stringent application of the rules and unforgiving marks. Horwood is also a judge on Australia’s Dancing with the Stars and has appeared on Celebrity Juice, Celebrity MasterChef, Would I Lie to You and various other panel shows.
South African dancer Motsi Mabuse is the most recent judge to join the Strictly panel, replacing Darcey Bussell on the BBC show last year.
The 39-year-old found a passion for dance whilst studying at the University of Pretoria and went on to become the German Latin Champion in 2009 and South African Champion in 2010.
Prior to Strictly, Mabuse – who is the older sister of Strictly professional and champion Oti Mabuse – was a professional dancer on Let’s Dance, German’s version of Strictly, and a judge on German talent shows Das Supertalent and Stepping Out.
Who will replace Bruno Tonioli?
The BBC is yet to announce who will be Bruno Tonioli’s replacement in the coming series, but various celebs are being tipped to fill in for the Italian Stallion.
From The Greatest Dancer’s Cheryl and ex-judge Arlene Phillips, to 2018 Strictly champion Stacey Dooley and ex-pro Kevin Clifton, there are many contenders rumoured to be in the running. We’ll keep this page updated as and when news of a new Strictly judge is released, so watch this space!