Bruno Tonioli Speaks Out Following Strictly Exit And Gives His Verdict On Replacement Anton Du Beke

Bruno Tonioli has spoken about his decision to leave Strictly Come Dancing after 18 years on the judging panel.

The 66-year-old confirmed he had left the BBC dance show during an appearance on Thursday’s edition of The One Show, and also took the opportunity to give his verdict on his replacement – Anton Du Beke.

Bruno, who has been a judge on Strictly since it was launched in 2004, said his travel commitments had made it “impossible” to continue.

Instead, he will be focusing on his other role as a judge on Dancing With The Stars, which films around the same time of year in the US.

Bruno Tonyoli
Bruno Tonyoli

Eric McCandless via Getty Images

“What’s happened with Covid, the traveling situation is so unpredictable,” Bruno explained. “I used to leave on a Sunday and fly back on Thursday to do the show in London.

“It was impossible because the rules changed, getting through the airport was not like it used to be, it created a situation that was unsustainable. I miss it so much.

“Unfortunately Dancing With The Stars has moved to Disney+ which is a big deal. Because of the travel situation I will be there.”

In 2020, pandemic travel uncertainty meant Bruno could only appear via video-link to give his verdict on the performances during the Sunday night results show.

And last year he was replaced by long-standing professional dancer Anton who joined the panel alongside Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Shirley Ballas.

“I think Anton has done a fantastic job, he deserves to be on that seat… it’s a 10 from me, carry on, do me proud,” Bruno said.

Anton Du Beke
Anton Du Beke

Karwai Tang via Getty Images

And in a message to the other judges, Bruno added: “Shirley my love, you will be much safer with Anton.

“Motsi don’t worry about Craig, he is just jealous because he cannot wear your clothes, Craig is just Craig and behind the scenes he is more fun than me, he is so cool and laid back.

Bruno revealed that Strictly fans may still see him in related events such as the post-show arena tour, in which he was a judge earlier this year.

“I may do the tour, I am not gone forever, don’t count me out, I will always be part of the family. We created the show,” he said.

“I am not going anywhere, it is impossible I cannot do it. The panel was so good last year, they were brilliant. They have all my support, so hopefully we will do something else.”

Bruno joined Strictly during his debut series in 2004 alongside the original judges Dame Arlene Phillips, Len Goodman and Craig Revel Horwood.

Meanwhile, Anton said he was glad to be returning to the judging panel when it returns later this year.

“Woohooo! This is BRILLIANT news,” she said. “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!”

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