Bruno Tonioli quits Strictly Come Dancing as Anton Du Beke steps in as permanent replacement

·2 min read

Bruno Tonioli has announced he is leaving Strictly Come Dancing after 18 years, with Anton Du Beke replacing him on the judging panel.

The Italian star, 66, announced the news on Thursday’s episode of The One Show (19 May), explaining that travel commitments to film Dancing with the Stars on Disney Plus in the US will make it impossible for him to film Strictly in the UK in the future.

His decision comes after two years of partial absence from the judging panel, due to Covid travel restrictions. Former Strictly professional Du Beke had stood in for him on a temporary basis in the 2021 series.

Tonioli said he was sad to leave Strictly, saying: “I miss it so much.” His exit means Craig Revel Horwood is now the only original Strictly judge to remain since the show’s launch in 2004.

Many fans loved Tonioli for his flamboyance and liveliness. He would often jump up out of his chair as he gave contestants their feedback – in stark contrast to the grumpy and hard-to-please Horwood.

“Bruno will always be a Strictly legend and is very funny and a great judge, but I did enjoy Anton on the panel last season,” tweeted one viewer. “He’s made for it. Plus Bruno is probably getting on a bit for all the flying back and forth to do our Strictly and Dancing With the Stars. Good move I say!”

Another posted: “Bruno Tonioli, my favourite judge from Strictly has left. I used to love his reactions to the performances during movie week. You could tell he knew a lot about films and dance’s connection to film. Thanks Bruno.”

A third said: “Noooooooooooo! He is irreplaceable. @ClaudiaWinkle please do something!!!!”

Du Beke served as a judge for the first time last year following 16 years as one of the show’s professional dancers.

“I think Anton has done a fantastic job,” said Tonioli. “He deserves to be on that seat. It’s a 10 from me. Carry on. Do me proud.”

Du Beke said in a statement: “Everyone knows how much I absolutely love the show and I’m utterly delighted to be continuing as a regular judge.”

Shirley Ballas and Motsi Mabuse make up the rest of the judging panel.

Tonioli isn’t the only star to depart the series this year, with Aljaž Škorjanec and Oti Mabuse having also recently announced they are leaving their roles as professional dancers on the show.

The 20th series of Strictly Come Dancing will air on BBC One later this year.

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