Dame Darcey Bussell has decided to step down as judge of Strictly Come Dancing, after serving seven series on the BBC One show.
In a statement released by the BBC today, Bussell said that she is leaving the show to focus on her “many other commitments in dance” and that it has nothing to do with any sort of disagreement.
“It has been a complete privilege for me to be part of Strictly, working with such a talented team,” she said. “I have enjoyed every minute of my time and will miss everyone from my fellow judges, the presenters, the dancers, the musicians, the entire back stage team, and especially the viewers of the show, who have been so supportive.
“I am not leaving because of any upset or disagreement at all, I am just stepping away to give more focus to my many other commitments in dance, after seven truly wonderful years that I can’t imagine having gone any better.
She added: “I know I will miss being part of this unique show and the fact that it celebrates dance is something I am so passionate about. I hope that I may be very lucky to be asked back again one day”.
Bussell was a guest judge on the programme in 2009 and joined the panel permanently in 2012. It is not yet known who will replace her alongside judges Shirley Ballas, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood.
Reacting to the news, Strictly co-host Claudia Winkelman paid tribute to Bussell on Twitter, writing: “We love you, Darcey. You’ll be missed.”
We love you Darcey. You'll be so so missed. Xx https://t.co/87jIpzFyHY
— Claudia Winkleman (@ClaudiaWinkle) April 10, 2019
On Bussell’s decision to step away, Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, said it had been “absolute honour” to work with a “national treasure and British dance icon”.
“She will be thoroughly missed by us all and will of course remain part of the Strictly family in the future,” she added.
Suzy Lamb, Managing Director of Entertainment & Music at BBC Studios, said: “We feel very fortunate to have had Darcey on the Strictly judging panel for seven glorious years. Her exceptional knowledge of dance and generous spirit have helped many a celebrity keep dancing. Darcey is much loved by the entire Strictly family and I know will be missed in both the ballroom and in sitting rooms across the country.”