Strictly pro dancer Dianne Buswell has said she remains hopeful that judge Bruno Tonioli will return to the show after reports that he might drop out of the 2020 series.
The enthusiastic judge has been a huge personality on Strictly Come Dancing since it began, but his commitment to US version Dancing with the Stars has caused problems in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tonioli usually travels between the US and the UK for the duration of both shows, but the spread of COVID-19 and uncertainty over travel restrictions means that strategy is not viable on this occasion.
Buswell appeared on ITV's daytime show Lorraine, currently hosted by Christine Lampard while Lorraine Kelly is on summer break, saying his absence would most certainly be felt.
"I love seeing Bruno fall off his chair this week," she said. "I’m definitely hoping that he’ll be back... he’s a huge part of Strictly, so fingers crossed. We just have to wait and see what happens at this point."
Her comments are a far cry from those of former Strictly professional Ian Waite, who said last week that Tonioli's feedback was only good for "entertainment value".
She went on to discuss this year's edition of Strictly Come Dancing, which will look a bit different to the usual format as efforts are made to protect contestants and crew during the pandemic.
Buswell added: "I’m so excited to start Strictly again. It’s one of those things I think every single year I can’t wait until I get back into the studio. The quality and sparkle of Strictly is still going to be there - and that’s what we need at the minute."
The show is rumoured to kick-off at a later-than-usual date in October, running right up until just before Christmas.
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