Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Phillips' fans urge Strictly return

Arlene Phillips was at the centre of an ageism row when she was replaced on Strictly Come Dancing by Alesha Dixon in 2009

Former Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips said she has been "overwhelmed" by messages of support as fans called for her to return to the show.

The BBC has a seat to fill after Alesha Dixon was poached by Simon Cowell to judge ITV1's Britain's Got Talent.

Former Strictly professional and champion Karen Hardy, 41, a regular guest on BBC2 spin-off show It Takes Two, is being tipped as favourite to replace Dixon.

But some viewers have also called for the BBC to reinstate Phillips, who was at the centre of an ageism row when she was replaced by Dixon, 33, in 2009.

Phillips, 68, wrote: "Gosh twitter followers and friends. I am overwhelmed by your incredible tweets campaigns and Facebook messages. So much love and thanks."

Fans wrote on Twitter that "they should have just kept Arlene Phillips in the first place" and "Arlene Phillips should be brought back".

Bookmakers William Hill have made Hardy favourite to return, followed by retired ballerina Darcey Bussell, who has appeared as a guest judge on Strictly. Dirty Dancing actress Jennifer Grey and former Strictly champion Jill Halfpenny have also been tipped for the coveted TV job.

Although fans of Phillips are backing her to return, bookmakers William Hill rated the choreographer's chances as slim at just 33-1.

Bookmakers Ladbrokes named former Strictly champion Kara Tointon as favourite to join Bruno Tonioli, Len Goodman and Craig Revel Horwood on the panel.

Dixon, a former member of girl group Mis-Teeq, will be joining returning judge Cowell, comedian David Walliams and series regular Amanda Holden on the sixth series of Britain's Got Talent.

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