Why Bruno Tonioli Chose DWTS Over ‘Strictly Come Dancing’

Getty Judge Bruno Tonioli attends the "Strictly Come Dancing" launch show red carpet

“Dancing With the Stars” judge Bruno Tonioli has revealed why he chose the U.S. version of the dancing competition show over its U.K. counterpart, “Strictly Come Dancing.”

Here is what Tonioli had to say in a new interview with the Daily Mail:


Basically It Boils Down to a Long-Term Contract… and Possibly the Money

In an interview about leaving “Strictly Come Dancing” in which Tonioli detailed the insane travel schedule that was involved in participating in both shows, he was asked why he didn’t choose the British version over the American one and basically, it comes down to his contract.

“I’m under contract in America until 2024. I’m not under long-term contract like that with the BBC,” said Tonioli, which means he has to make the contracted show his first priority because it is guaranteed, whereas “Strictly Come Dancing” only hires season by season, according to the Daily Mail.

He also said said that you can’t expect the show to pay you if you may or may not show up on any given week.

“Let’s say you’re shooting a film and Hugh Jackman cost millions to hire and you say, ‘Well, he may or may not turn up.’ They’d say, ‘What?'” explained Tonioli.

It also might come down to money. The interview posited that Tonioli makes more on “Dancing With the Stars” than the £250,000 he reportedly gets paid to do “Strictly Come Dancing,” to which Tonioli said, “I don’t know how much I earn.”

“I’m not complaining. I’m a performer, not a businessman,” said Tonioli.

He added that it felt “wrong” to try to go back to “Strictly Come Dancing” because they found a successful replacement for him in former “Strictly” pro Anton Du Beke and they should stick with what is working.

“I felt, actually, that it would be a bit wrong if I went back. They have something going very well and they should stick to it. I can guarantee you, there is no animosity,” said the longtime judge.


Tonioli Said He Would Hate to ‘Let Someone Down’ If He Got Delayed While Traveling

Tonioli also praised the “very good job” that Du Beke has done as his replacement because he has made the role “his own,” comparing it to the way the James Bond franchise changes actors and there is no jealousy there.

“It’s like James Bond, right? You have Sean Connery and Daniel Craig but they are both still Bond,” said Tonioli.

He said that the conversation about leaving “Strictly Come Dancing” was “very civilized” and that they both just wanted to do what was best for both shows.

“We looked into whether there was a way of making both shows work for me like before [the pandemic] and it was a mutual decision. They said, ‘It really is not feasible.’ And I said, ‘It really is not,” said Tonioli.

He added that he would hate if travel delays caused him to “let someone down.”

“Can you imagine? I’m stuck at Heathrow [airport], they’re waiting for me in America. Let’s say I arrive a day late, the way things are these days, you never know. No production company could take that risk. … You can’t risk one of your players being absent,” said the judge.

These comments echo what Tonioli told the BBC’s “The One Show” back in May when he said, “Getting through the airports is not like it used to be, so it created a situation that was unsustainable,” said Tonioli, adding, “Because of the travel situations I cannot really guarantee that I’m going to be there because anything can happen. Two years ago, I changed my tickets every week and they need continuity.”

“Dancing With the Stars” returns for its 31st season on Monday, September 19 on Disney Plus.

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