Anton du Beke is to become a full-time Strictly Come Dancing judge after uncertainty over Covid travel restrictions forced Bruno Tonioli to pull out of this year’s show.
Tonioli usually films Strictly and its US equivalent, Dancing with the Stars, over the same period and flies between the UK and US. However, the current lack of clarity over travel and quarantine rules has meant he is unable to guarantee his involvement with both shows and has chosen to remain with Dancing with the Stars.
Last year, Tonioli appeared on Strictly via videolink from the US. Du Beke stood in for two weeks as a temporary judge. Now he has been promoted to the full-time role, alongside Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Shirley Ballas.
Du Beke joined Strictly during its first series in 2004 and is the only professional to have danced in every series. He said he was "thrilled" with his new role, adding: "It’s a dream come true to be judging alongside the best of the best, and I promise to be kinder to all the couples than any of them have ever been to me."
I'm so excited! Thrilled to be joining these wonderful judges @bbcstrictly 😘 https://t.co/0eDNq3liof
— Anton Du Beke (@TheAntonDuBeke) June 24, 2021
Tonioli said: "Anton is Mr Strictly, and if anybody is filling in for me it has to be him."
Appearing on ITV’s This Morning, Revel Horwood said it was time for Du Beke to make the transition from dancing to judging. "He’s super excited, as we all are. And isn’t it about time, darling? There is a point in your life where you have to hang up the dance shoes," he said.
Explaining why the decision had been made now rather than waiting a few more months to see whether travel restrictions will be lifted, Revel Horwood said: "It had to be made in order to get the show on the road. You have to make decisions in advance.
"There was a lot of juggling with Strictly last year and, really, I think it’s the best possible solution. Bruno’s not out, he may come back next year – who knows – but I’m so delighted to welcome Anton onto the panel."