Entertainment & Arts

Darcey Bussell joins Strictly Come Dancing panel

Darcey Bussell
Image caption Bussell is a former principal dancer with the Royal Ballet

Ballet star Darcey Bussell has been confirmed as the new judge on BBC One's Strictly Come Dancing.

Bussell, 42, retired as a dancer in 2007 but is still heavily involved with the ballet scene.

She will join Len Goodman, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli on the judging panel for Strictly when it returns in the autumn.

Bussell has appeared as a guest judge on the show but now joins on a full-time basis to replace Alesha Dixon.

Darcey, former principal dancer at the Royal Ballet, said: "I had such a lovely experience in 2009 when I was a guest judge, that coming on board now feels very natural.

"Strictly combines quality dance and great entertainment, which is such a positive for everybody involved. I am very excited and really looking forward to being part of the Strictly team."

BBC One Controller Danny Cohen said: "Strictly Come Dancing is a real jewel in the crown and I can think of no-one better to join our Strictly judging panel than Darcey, the UK's queen of ballet.

"Darcey has all the poise and glamour, along with the experience and credentials, to deliver meaningful and insightful critiques of our couples' performances.

"She's a huge fan of the show and will be a fantastic addition to the Strictly family."

Katie Taylor, head of in-house entertainment at the BBC, added: "Having previously acted as a guest judge, Darcey is already part of the Strictly family and I couldn't be more thrilled that she's returning to us as our new judge. I know she will sparkle in our ballroom."

Bussell joined the Royal Ballet in 1988, performing as a guest artist with leading international companies, including the New York City Ballet.

Born Marnie Mercedes Darcey Pembleton Crittle, she was awarded the CBE in 2006 and once made a guest appearance as herself in BBC comedy The Vicar of Dibley.

Bussell replaces Dixon, who was poached earlier this year by Simon Cowell to be a judge on ITV1 show Britain's Got Talent.

Cowell admitted he offered her a panel place based "70-30 on the fact she was on Strictly and the fact I liked her" - prompting Strictly head judge Goodman to accuse him of being "spiteful".

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