With the COVID-19 pandemic still affecting travel and show business, it’s possible that Dancing With the Stars judge Bruno Tonioli will once again be absent from Strictly Come Dancing in the upcoming season of the show.
It’s possible that for the next season at least, Tonioli may be replaced by Anton Du Beke, a longtime professional dancer on the show.
Tonioli has been a main fixture on Strictly Come Dancing since the series premiere. The Daily Mail reported that it’s possible Tonioli will not be returning for the upcoming season of the show due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
The DWTS judge is currently living in Los Angeles, though he is usually able to travel back and forth and be on both shows. The pandemic has changed that, however, and Tonioli set a precedent by choosing DWTS over Strictly in the 2020 season.
Tonioli Could Be Replaced by Anton Du Beke
The Daily Mail reported that Tonioli could be replaced by Anton Du Beke if he doesn’t return to the ballroom in Strictly Come Dancing.
According to an insider, the show has been considering what would happen if Tonioli doesn’t or can’t return. Anton Du Beke has been a professional dancer on Strictly for 16 years, and the source said the dancer would love to take a seat on the judge’s table.
The move would mirror what Dancing With the Stars did on season 29 of the show when longtime judge Len Goodman could not return. The executive producers brought in six-time champion Derek Hough to sit in his chair.
Du Beke officially joined the judging panel in 2020 for two weeks. He stepped in for Motsi Mabuse while she spent time in Germany. He is the longest-tenured professional dancer on the show, having been a fixture since season one.
The dancer has also been open about his desire to shift into a judging role on the show.
The Sun reported in 2020 that Tonioli was “worried” for his future on Strictly after seeing Du Beke’s success on the panel.
Cast Members Are Unsure if Du Beke Will Become a Permanent Judge
According to Express, cast members are unsure what will happen for the next season. Neil Jones, Strictly Come Dancing professional, spoke about what next season may look like.
He said that Du Beke had great success as a judge but he was unsure if Tonioli would be back.
“I have no idea,” he told Entertainment Daily. “Anton was incredible and Bruno is always hilarious. But again, it all comes down to COVID. If we still have a similar situation next year you never know, they might turn around and say, ‘Anton, we’re going to make you the fourth judge.'”
Jones added that Du Beke loves dancing as a professional on the show and really enjoys being a part of the group dances with all the pros.
“We all trust in the production staff because year after year they win awards, the numbers are going up, people love the show, so they know what they’re doing,” he said. “So we stick to the dancing and we let them stick to the production side.”