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Strictly's Anton du Beke 'gutted' to miss out on head judge role - report

The 50-year-old professional dancer had been expected to take on the position of lead judge on the panel after Len Goodman announced he was leaving the programme.

Anton du Beke has reportedly been left "gutted" by Strictly Come Dancing bosses' decision to cast newcomer Shirley Ballas as head judge instead of him.

The 50-year-old professional dancer, a favourite among viewers of the BBC talent show, had been expected to take on the position of lead judge on the panel after Len Goodman announced he was leaving the programme.

However, it was announced earlier this month (May17) that Shirley, 56, was going to be filling the position, leaving Anton feeling as though he's the victim of "positive discrimination", according to The Sun newspaper.

"Anton would never say anything negative publicly about being overlooked for the role, but he and everyone in his inner circle has been left gutted by the Beeb’s decision," a source told the publication.

“He felt the panel needed a British bloke, a straight swap for Len. It’s a risk changing such a successful formula. It’s also been said that he’s being looked down on as ‘just a dancer’ when really there’s much more to him than that.”

Shirley will be joining Darcey Bussell, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel-Horwood on the panel, with her casting believed to be something to do with the BBC's four-year "diversity and inclusion strategy", which aims to hire more women both in front of and behind the camera on their programmes.

Dancing talent runs in British-born Shirley's family as her son is musician, Broadway actor and former winner of Dancing With the Stars Mark Ballas. She was also guardian to professional dancer siblings Julianne and Derek Hough when they spent time in London during their childhood, and has various titles under her belt, such as three-time British Open To The World Latin American champion.

“I am so excited and over the moon to have been given this wonderful opportunity,” Shirley said about her new role in a statement. “I can’t wait to get in to the ballroom and be part of the incredible and respected judging panel. Strictly is so loved by the British public, I have always been a massive fan. I just can’t wait!"

Strictly Come Dancing will return to the small screen for its 15th series this autumn.

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