Arlene Phillips ‘kicked, screamed, cried and ate scones’ after ‘Strictly’ sacking

Arlene Phillips attends The Olivier Awards with Mastercard at Royal Albert Hall on April 8, 2018 in London, England.  (Photo by John Phillips/John Phillips/Getty Images)
Arlene Phillips has spoken about being dropped from Strictly. (Getty Images)

Dame Arlene Phillips has opened up on the heartbreak of losing her Strictly Come Dancing judging role, admitting she spent two days "kicking, screaming, crying and eating scones".

The 78-year-old choreographer was part of the original line-up of judges on the BBC One show alongside Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood.

Read more: Craig Revel Horwood welcomes Anton Du Beke back to Strictly judging panel

But in 2009, she was dropped from the series in favour of singer Alesha Dixon, who had previously been a contestant on the show, sparking allegations of an ageism row.

Now, Phillips has told The Mirror of the time when she was sacked: "I gave myself 48 hours to kick, scream, cry and sob, and eat scones with cream and jam, then I made myself wake up and get on with it."

Bruno Tonioli, Arlene Phillips, Len Goodman and Craig Revel Horwood on the Strictly Come Dancing judging desk.
Arlene Phillips was part of the original Strictly Come Dancing judging panel. (BBC)

Phillips explained that she had already been in a difficult place as her manager at the time had just died, but still doesn't have an answer for why she was dropped.

She said: "I reflect and think, ‘Wow, I really didn’t ask the questions I needed to ask.’ I was very fragile because I had a bereavement the day before.

Read more: Bruno Tonioli's most outrageous Strictly moments as he bows out of show

"I wanted to know in detail and I wanted to know the real reason at the point when they decided for me to go, yet they kept me hanging on for so long with the possibility that there would be five judges."

Revel Horwood is now the only member of the original judging line-up still on the show as Strictly prepares to launch its 20th series later this year.

Anton Du Beke and Bruno Tonioli
Anton Du Beke will return but Bruno Tonioli isn't back this series. (BBC/PA)

Former head judge Goodman quit to focus on his commitments with US version Dancing With The Stars and was replaced by Shirley Ballas in 2017, while it was announced earlier this week that Tonioli would not be returning for the next series.

Italian judge Tonioli also works on Dancing With The Stars with Goodman and because of COVID travel restrictions, had only been able to appear via video link for the results show in 2020, while former pro dancer Anton Du Beke stood in for him in 2021.

However, Du Beke's role seems to have been made permanent as he was named in this year's judging line-up alongside Ballas, Revel Horwood and Motsi Mabuse.

Watch: Bruno Tonioli leaves Strictly Come Dancing due to 'travel situation'