Bruno Tonioli has permanently stepped down from the judging panel of Strictly Come Dancing, it has been confirmed.
The Italian choreographer and dancer had been a Strictly judge since the show’s launch in 2004, but took a two-year break in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic and his work commitments in the US.
For last year’s series, long-serving Strictly pro Anton Du Beke took over the seat usually occupied by Bruno, alongside regular judges Craig Revel Horwood, Shirley Ballas and Motsi Mabuse.
However, he did take part in the 2022 Strictly tour, judging with Craig and Shirley at shows around the UK.
It’s now been announced that Bruno will not be back on Strictly when it returns for its landmark 20th series later this year.
On Thursday, the BBC confirmed in a press release – which, interestingly, did not mention Bruno’s exit – that the judging panel for this year’s series would once again consist of Craig, Motsi, Shirley and Anton.
Speaking about his return to the panel, Anton said: “Woohooo! This is BRILLIANT news. Everyone knows how much I absolutely love the show and I’m utterly delighted to be continuing as a regular judge.
“And I get to make the final again – now I know how Giovanni feels!”
In the lead-up to the announcement, there had been lots of speculation about whether he would ever be back on Strictly, with both Craig and Shirley suggesting publicly that a five-person panel with both Bruno and Anton could be a potential solution.
Earlier this week, it was reported by the Daily Mail that Bruno had made the decision not to resume his usual slot on Strictly.
The BBC had no comment when contacted by HuffPost UK about this at the time.
Bruno is expected to continue his judging duties on the show’s US counterpart Dancing With The Stars, where he sits alongside former Strictly colleague Len Goodman, Derek Hough and Carrie Ann Inaba.
He won’t be the only familiar face not returning when the new series of Strictly debuts, with fan favourites Oti Mabuse and Aljaz Skorjanec both announcing their exits earlier this year.
Strictly will begin airing on BBC One in its usual autumn slot.
Source: Huff Post