Strictly Come Dancing judges: past and present

Discover more about the judging panel of everyone's favourite BBC show.

Strictly Judges

by Emily Gilbert |

It's the show we've enjoyed watching every Autumn since May 2004 but can you remember all of the Strictly Come Dancing judges since the beginning?

Present Strictly judges

Shirley Ballas

Shirley Ballas
©BBC

Head judge Shirley Ballas is one of the most renowned and decorated professional dancers in the world and is even hailed as the Queen of Latin, remaining the only person to have ever won the British Open to the World Latin American Championships in Blackpool with two different partners.

In 2017, it was announced that Shirley would be joining the judging panel and replacing Len Goodman as head judge.

Craig Revel Horwood

Craig Revel Horwood
©BBC

The multi-talented Craig Revel Horwood has received prestigious Olivier Award nominations for his work on musicals Spend, Spend, Spend, and My One And Only. In the West End, he has played the part of Munkustrap in Cats, Dance Captain in Miss Saigon, and was an original cast member of Crazy For You.

Joining Strictly in Craig right from its inception in 2004, the native Australian does not hold back when it comes to giving his expert opinion.

Motsi Mabuse

Motsi Mabuse
©BBC

Having danced for most of her life, South African Motsi first caught Strictly's attention when she joined the cast of the German version of Strictly, Let's Dance, finishing in fifth and sixth place with her celebrity partners across two series.

In 2011 she was invited to become a Judge on Let's Dance, something she continues to do to this very day. It wasn't until 2019 when Motsi joined as a judge on the UK's Strictly Come Dancing. And now we can't imagine it without her!

Motsi is also the older sister of Strictly professional - and two-time winner - Oti.

Anton du Beke

Anton du Beke
©BBC

Part of the Strictly furniture, Anton is a Strictly legend who has been on the team since the first series.

Anton is best remembered for comedic pairings with both Nancy Dell'Olio and former MP Ann Widdecombe.

Following a two-week stint as a judge during the 2020 series, Anton joined the current series as a judge in 2021 for the entire series, taking Bruno Tonioli's place.

Talking about his new role, Anton said: "My loves I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to be stepping into Bruno’s brogues for the next series of Strictly. 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."

Past Strictly judges

Bruno Tonioli

 Bruno Tonioli
©BBC

Strictly's former fabulous and flamboyant judge, Bruno is a legendary dancer and choreographer who has worked with some of the biggest names in the music, including Elton John, Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury, Tina Turner and Paul McCartney.

As well as being a regular guest judge on Dancing with the Stars in America, Bruno was a permanent fixture on the Strictly judging panel since 2004. Sadly, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding international travel restrictions caused by Covid, Bruno was unable to take part in the series. We were hoping to see the return of Bruno at some point in the near future, but sadly, he has confirmed his permanent exit from the show. This means Anton will be replacing Bruno as the permanent host.

Darcey Bussell

Darcey Bussell

Prima Ballerina Dame Darcey Bussell CBE, the former Principal Dancer at the Royal Ballet, first joined the Strictly judging panel in 2009 as a guest judge in the final stages of the 2009 series.

Darcey then returned to the panel as a replacement for Alesha Dixon in 2012 but in 2018, she announced that she had decided to step down as judge from the show.

She said: "It has been a complete privilege for me to be part of Strictly, working with such a talented team. I have enjoyed every minute of my time and will miss everyone from my fellow judges, the presenters, the dancers, the musicians, the entire backstage team, and especially the viewers of the show, who have been so supportive."

Len Goodman

Len Goodman

When former (and original!) head judge Len took up ballroom dancing, he specialised in a form of dancing called Exhibition, which is all about the lifts. He quickly became a British champion, winning the title a whopping four times.

Len left at the end of the 2016 series, and was replaced by Shirley Ballas. Talking about continuing to watch Strictly, he said: " I try to watch it just as a punter, just to be entertained, but it’s difficult because you’re always judging things and I’m always thinking of things the judges should have said."

Arlene Phillips

Arlene Phillips

Part of the original quartet of judges, West End choreographer and former Hot Gossip dancer Arlene has been in the entertainment business for decades.

Arlene made a controversial departure from the show when it was rumoured she was given the sack in favour of Alesha Dixon, who won the show in 2007.

Following her departure, she has since said: "I didn’t have a contract that automatically rolled on to the next year, but I think it was handled so poorly."

Alesha Dixon

Alesha Dixon
©BBC

After lifting the Strictly Come Dancing trophy in 2007 with her professional partner Matthew Cutler, singer Alesha Dixon went on to join the Strictly judging panel in 2009 for three series.

Announcing she was leaving Strictly in 2012, Alesha said: "After three incredible years on the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel I have decided that it is time to move on.

Strictly Come Dancing will always hold a special place in my heart as it has been such an amazing experience, both as a winning competitor and as a judge."

Alesha instead joined ITV's talent show Britain's Got Talent.

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