We don’t talk about Bruno, no, no, no! Or at least, the official announcement of the Strictly Come Dancing 2022 judging line-up doesn’t.


The BBC has confirmed that this autumn’s ballroom contest will retain the same quartet of judges as last year. Returning to the paddle-raising panel once again are Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Anton Du Beke and head judge Shirley Ballas.

This means not only that ex-pro Anton’s well-received stand-in stint has now been made permanent, but also that Bruno Tonioli won’t be coming back after all. After 18 years, he's bowed out of the (UK) ballroom for good.

Bruno’s presence for the past two seasons had been minimal due to the pandemic. He combines his Strictly duties, of course, with the same role on US version Dancing with the Stars.

However, COVID travel restrictions meant he was unable to commute between the two shows like usual. In 2020, he appeared only via video link. In 2021, Anton kept his seat warm, supposedly on a temporary basis.

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It’s understandable why everyone has come to the decision. As Bruno himself explained on The One Show, the travel situation made his return impossible to guarantee. Plus, the 2021 contest, memorably won by Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice, was a huge BAFTA-winning hit. Going into the milestone 20th series, why change a winning formula?

However, the 66-year-old Italian stallion is a Strictly stalwart. He was part of the original cast from 2004 and his flamboyant exuberance will be much missed. The rapturous reception Bruno got from arena crowds when he returned for the latest live tour was testament to his beloved status. Let’s hope he gets some sort of send-off when the Glitterball starts spinning in September.

For now, though, let’s say arrivederci by rewinding Bruno’s best bits.

Bruno Falling off his chair (season 16, 2018)

Bruno became known for laughing so hard and gesticulating so wildly that he’d slip off his judging chair. He took a full tumble in Movie Week after Dr Ranj Singh’s Aladdin quickstep. “Are you alright, my darling?” asked Tess Daly as he was sprawled out on the studio floor, before quipping: “Do you need a doctor?”

Getting kissed by Gavin Henson (season 8, 2010)

Bruno had a crush on rugby ace Gavin Henson, who played on it by pausing his quickstep to lean across the desk and plant a smacker on the judge's lips. It did the trick. Henson duly registered his highest score of the season. The smooch promoted 80 complaints from viewers who deemed it inappropriate. Bruno deemed it just fine and was left fanning himself.

Swearing without realising (season 13, 2015)

After eventual winner Jay McGuiness danced the paso doble, Bruno came over all potty-mouthed.

“Oh yes, those are the bull’s b******s,” he blurted out. His fellow judges looked aghast.

When Tess Daly apologised for his language, Bruno looked baffled. He did it again three years later by accidentally congratulating Stacey Dooley for her “medley of greatest t*ts”.

You can watch the full clip, here.

Opening the show with a song (season 17, 2019)

Talk about all-singing and all-dancing. The Strictly pros donned bright pink for a camp group number to Can't Take My Eyes Off You. Who should emerge from behind showgirl-style ostrich feathers to croon the cheesy listening classic? No less than Bruno, wearing a white tuxedo.

Twitter went into meltdown. Tess Daly called him a “man of many talents”. Co-host Claudia Winkleman added: "That was just the right amount of understated we need after Blackpool.” It really was just too good to be true.

Bruno's comments about Ann Widdecombe (season 8, 2010)

Bruno always had a memorable turn of phrase and deployed it to full effect during his acerbic verdicts on the clod-hopping former Conservative MP. After her American Smooth, he called Widdy “a Dalek in drag”.

He likened her cumbersome waltz to “the Ark Royal on stormy seas” and her pink-frocked foxtrot to “a family-size Pepto-Bismol bottle”. When she attempted a Blackpool samba in a yellow feathered gown, he compared her to “a lame canary who never takes flight”. Cheep.

You can watch the clips, as well as some more of Bruno's equally interesting moments, here.

Scott!” (season 8, 2010)

Bruno was rather partial to EastEnders actor Scott Maslen and could reduce him to blushing giggles just by saying his name. “Scott!” he would purr, over-enunciating flirtatiously. It grew more exaggerated as the series went on, ending up as “Ssssscotttt-ah!”

Strictly Come Dancing will return to BBC One and BBC iPlayer later this year.

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