Shirley Ballas reveals what kind of judge she's hoping will replace Darcey Bussell

Darcy Bussell shocked Strictly Come Dancing fans when she announced she was leaving her position as a judge to pursue other projects.

And now Head Judge Shirley Ballas has admitted that she too was left gutted by Darcey's departure, explaining, "I think it leaves a hole in my heart, because obviously I got to know her on the first two series [that I did]. She held my hand through the whole thing."

"We had the most amazing time of the Strictly tour, and lots of girly giggles."

(Image credit: David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock)

Shirley then went on to talk about who might replace Darcey, saying that she's put her full faith in the BBC to pick the right person.

She said, "The BBC always get it right so as long as the person suits and fits in with the panel and they are fair and they judge without fear or favour and they are positive and kind, I think whoever they choose I’m very happy with, man or woman, I don’t mind."

But of course her departure means that speculations over who will be her replacement are rife. And long-time judge Craig Revel Horwood has now revealed who he'd love to see take her place.

And in turns out, he's backing singer and dancer Nicole Scherzinger for the spot.

He told Australia's TV Week, "She'd be fabulous. Anton du Beke definitely wants to do it. I'd love to see Nicole, or Carlos [Acosta]."

Of course, Nicole has had extensive dance experience over the course of her career, and even won the US version of the show, Dancing With The Stars, in 2010.

However, it seems Craig is actually just as in the dark about the new judge as the rest of us. He admitted, "But nobody has actually expressed anything to me. And I'm generally the last to find out!"

Strictly Come Dancing

Craig went on to reveal that it would be fine if he didn't get on with the new judge too, explaining, "The difference of opinion is rather good, generally. For me it's of no concern. I just hope they choose the right person and they know what they're talking about."

But aside from Nicole, another popular personality is coming up in front as favourite for Darcey's old job.

While Strictly have yet to announce her replacement, one of the show’s star dancers has been tipped to take over.

According to bookmakers, Oti Mabuse is the favourite with 4-1 odds.

The 28-year-old has previous judging experience on the BBC show The Greatest Dancer.

Coral's Harry Aitkenhead said, "Oti is definitely a contender to replace Darcey on the Strictly panel.

"She proved incredibly popular making the switch to captain on The Greatest Dancer from Strictly pro and we make her just a 4-1 shot to return to the show now as a judge."

Oti, from Pretoria in South Africa, is a champion Latin and ballroom dancer and has been part of Strictly since 2015.

She was the runner up in 2017 with partner Danny Mac.

Twitter users haveexpressedtheir hope that Oti will take over the reins.One said, “You can't haveenough Oti inyour life”, whileanothergushed how “super sweet andtalented” she is.

Another favourite to take over from Darcey is Karen Hardy, who was a hot contender for Shirley Ballas’s head judge job back in 2016.

The bookies have her at 2-1.

Karen, 48, won the show back in 2006 with Mark Ramprakash and sometimes fills in for the judges on the Strictly Live Tour.

Sarah Finley

Sarah is a freelance journalist - writing about the royals and celebrities for Woman & Home, fitness and beauty for the Evening Standard and how the world of work has changed due to the pandemic for the BBC. 


She also covers a variety of other subjects and loves interviewing leaders and innovators in the beauty, travel and wellness worlds for numerous UK and overseas publications. 


As a journalist, she has written thousands of profile pieces - interviewing CEOs, real-life case studies and celebrities - interviewing everyone from Emma Bunton to the founder of Headspace.