The Radio Times logo

Who could replace Darcey Bussell as a Strictly Come Dancing judge?

The BBC is hunting for a new Strictly judge – find out the latest rumours about who it could be here

Published: Tuesday, 2nd July 2019 at 9:00 am

Darcey Bussell is stepping down as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing after seven years on the show – but who could be replacing the British dance icon on the panel?


From professional dancers to former winners and guest panellists, here's a list of who could be stepping into Bussell's shoes on the BBC judging panel.

Harry Judd

Is The Masked Dancer's Beagle Harry Judd
Getty Images

McFly drummer Harry Judd is in line to take over from Darcey Bussell, with TV insiders hoping to sign the 2011 Strictly winner in a bid to appeal to a younger audience.

A TV source claimed, "Strictly bosses are desperate to appeal to younger viewers, as they know that is the age group they need to build on.

The insider added to The Sun, "He is popular, very charismatic and has experience of dancing both on Strictly and in the West End, after appearing in Rip it Up.

"They know that he would also hit the right note with older audiences as he is very much a family man, he is a dad with two children.“Talks are ongoing at the moment, but as it stands, Harry is a firm favourite.”

Bonnie Langford

Actress and dancer Bonnie Langford is being lined up to replace Darcey Bussell as a judge on Strictly, according to the Daily Mail.

The former Doctor Who and EastEnders star competed on ITV’s Dancing On Ice in 2006, so is no stranger to strutting her stuff on telly.

Langford is starring in the West End musical 9 to 5, but that finishes at the end of August – just in time to join the other Strictly judges on the panel...

Carlos Acosta

Former dance partner of Darcey Bussell, ballet supremo Carlos Acosta is reportedly in the running to replace Bussell on the Strictly judging panel.

The Sun has reported that Strictly bosses are considering making Acosta a £400,000 offer, and that they're eager to secure his combined dance background and star power.

Acosta grew up in Havana, Cuba, and although he eventually joined the Royal Ballet of London, he first worked as a street dancer.

Joanne Clifton

Joanne Clifton

Joanne Clifton was a pro dancer on Strictly for three years until she left the show in 2017 after winning the Glitterball Trophy with Ore Oduba. She continued to make guest appearances on spin-off show It Takes Two however.

If she joins the judging panel, she’ll be scoring the performance of her own brother – pro dancer Kevin Clifton – which could be interesting.

Since her Strictly departure, Clifton has continued to celebrate the show and the progress of its contestants – including on her blog in 2017 – so she's certainly got the expertise to add to the judging line-up.

Caroline Flack

Love Island presenter Caroline Flack won the 2014 series of Strictly with pro dancer Pasha Kovalev.

Could she follow in the footsteps of former winner Alesha Dixon and be brought back as a new member of the judging panel?

Flack recently returned for Strictly’s 2018 Christmas special, and the new series wouldn’t clash with Love Island, so it’s not impossible...

Anton Du Beke

Strictly Come Dancing: Anton Du Beke

Having been a pro dancer on Strictly ever since it launched in 2004, Anton Du Beke has had a lot of years to soak up judging tips from the panel.

He has yet to actually win the show, but having been a favourite with fans since its inception, it’s not so far-fetched to think Du Beke could be holding up a scoring paddle in the near future. But will Strictly producers want to go back to only having one woman on the panel?

Oti Mabuse

Strictly Come Dancing: Oti Mabuse

Pro dancer Oti Mabuse quickly won over viewers when she joined Strictly in 2015 with her infectious personality.

She is no stranger to judging, having starred as a captain on BBC1's talent contest The Greatest Dancer.

A firm favourite on Strictly, Mabuse would be a strong contender to make the move to the other side of the table – but plenty of fans would miss her moves, which is why Mabuse told Radio 2's Zoe Ball that she'd be sticking to the dance floor for now.

When Ball asked Mabuse if she was in the mix, she replied: "No, no... I love dancing, I love coming to the rehearsals, I love being a part of the group. It’s a really special group to be a part of. There are no dancers like Strictly dancers, how close we are.… I think I would absolutely miss that and that part of it."

After Ball suggested fans "wait and see", Mabuse was categorical. "I’ll be dancing honey, I’ll be dancing," she said.

Alfonso Ribeiro

The Fresh Prince of Bel Air star went down a storm during his guest appearance on the Strictly panel in 2018, and has great credentials after winning Dancing With The Stars in 2014 – not to mention bringing the Carlton dance into the world.

Could Alfonso Ribeiro be back for a permanent stint on the panel?

Karen Hardy

Former Strictly pro Karen Hardy won the competition in 2006 and left the show in 2009, but continued to appear on spin-off It Takes Two with Zoe Ball.

She was tipped to take the head judge spot back in 2016, before it eventually went to Shirley Ballas – could Hardy be lucky second time around?

Julianne Hough

Julianne Hough is a two-time professional champion on Dancing with the Stars and in 2014 she joined the show as a permanent fourth judge.

She has a strong connection to Strictly having lived with head judge Shirley Ballas, who taught her to dance as a child.

Surely that mother-daughter-esque dynamic on the judging panel would be too much for Strictly bosses to resist?

Donny Osmond

Puppy Love singer Donny Osmond didn't exactly set the show alight during his guest judge appearance in 2014 – but he's still one of the few people to have experienced what it's like scoring the celebrities.

After all, he does have the dancing credentials, having won the 2009 series of Dancing with the Stars.

Anton Du Beke might not be best pleased if Osmond returns though, having previously said his appearance on the show “wasn't the greatest thing to happen”.

Ashley Roberts

Strictly Come Dancing Ashley Roberts launch show

Former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts was a contestant on Strictly in 2018 after spending two years as a judge on ITV's Dancing on Ice.

She was a slightly controversial contestant on Strictly, as some viewers thought her training in ballet, tap, modern and lyrical dance gave her an unfair advantage over the other celebrities.

However, all that training and judging experience could count in Roberts’ favour when it comes to finding Darcey Bussell’s replacement.

Nicole Scherzinger

Ashley Roberts’ fellow Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger won Dancing with the Stars in 2010. She’s also no stranger to talent show judging on singing contests The X Factor and The Sing-Off.

Is it time for a move to the BBC for Scherzinger?

Former pro Kristina Rihanoff certainly thinks so, having told Good Morning Britain: "She is a beautiful, stunning lady who has training in street and commercial dancing. She would be a good judge.”

However the announcement that Scherzinger is joining the new series of Australia's Got Talent likely puts the star out of the running to replace Bussell.

Mandy Moore

As well as Nicole Scherzinger, former Strictly pro Kristina Rihanoff has also backed La La Land choreographer Mandy Moore to replace Bussell on Strictly.

"I think the panel needs another woman and someone from a different background to ballroom dancing," she told Good Morning Britain. "Someone from street dancing or a commercial dancing background, who is also a professional dancer and perhaps a judge.

“We all loved the La La Land movie and the wonderful Mandy Moore, who was choreographer for that movie and she is a judge on So You Think You Can Dance in America. She is in America and she choreographed a lot of wonderful numbers on Strictly with us pros. We all loved her. She would be great."

Ashley Banjo

Ashley Banjo, ITV Pictures, SL

Ashley Banjo entered the limelight in 2009 when his dance group Diversity won the third series of Britain's Got Talent.

The street dance performer and choreographer went on to become a judge on Sky1’s Got to Dance and has been on the panel of Dancing on Ice for the past two series – could he be swapping the ice rink for the dance floor?

Helen Richey

Former ballroom and Latin dance champion Helen Richey has been a judge on the Australian version of Dancing With The Stars for 15 series.


She was reportedly considered as a contender to join the show by Strictly bosses when Len Goodman left; she might well be on their list this time around.


Sponsored content