Longtime “Dancing With the Stars” judge Bruno Tonioli used to pull double duty, acting as a judge for both the United Kingdom version of the show, “Strictly Come Dancing,” and its U.S. counterpart. But when the pandemic locked down international travel, he stepped away from “Strictly.” Now that travel restrictions have lifted, however, Bruno has not returned to “Strictly” and it sounds like one of his former colleagues hopes the change is permanent.
Longtime Judge Craig Revel Horwood Said He Hopes Bruno’s Replacement ‘Comes Back Next Year’
Speaking to The Sun, Craig Revel Horwood, who has been a judge on “Strictly Come Dancing” since the beginning, said that Bruno’s replacement, professional dancer Anton Du Beke, has been a great addition to the program and he hopes Anton stays permanently.
“I am so pleased now that [Anton] is a judge, finally,” said Craig, adding, “I was pleased they got him off the dancefloor and then put him where he belongs. I hope he comes back next year. I loved it, absolutely.”
Anton was a pro on the show for its first 18 seasons, then the show moved Anton to Bruno’s spot for the 19th season, which aired from September to December 2021. Craig said he hopes that Anton returns for season 20, which sounds like it means Bruno is done with the show for good.
Bruno Was A Part of the 2022 ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ Tour
In early 2022, it did seem like Bruno would be returning to “Strictly Come Dancing” because he was part of the live tour. The “Strictly” tour differs from the “Dancing With the Stars” tour in that it includes the judges, so Craig, Bruno and fellow judge Shirley Ballas were all a part of the tour.
But shortly after the tour wrapped, a report from The Sun said that executives were happy with the job Anton was doing as a judge and had no intention to bring Bruno back, especially because it costs quite a bit less for the show to employ Anton.
The BBC source told The Sun:
We have been told Anton’s contract as a judge is going to be renewed. The bosses were really happy with his performance.
It also hasn’t escaped their notice his salary is considerably lower than Bruno’s. Bruno has been an integral part of “Strictly” for more than a decade, and there is a huge amount of affection for him from those on the show.
The source also said that this decision would “ruffle some feathers,” especially with Craig because Craig has been “a very, very vocal advocate for welcoming Bruno back.”
However, based on Craig’s most recent comments, it sounds like he has changed his tune and hopes that Anton is brought back for season 20.
Bruno has not directly addressed his situation with returning or not returning to “Strictly Come Dancing,” but after the report in The Sun in February 2022 about the “Strictly” executives wanting to keep Anton, he posted a photo to Instagram of the whole “Strictly” tour cast that thanked his fans for the kind words.
“Thank you very much for all your messages, your response has been amazing, I have enjoyed every minute of this tour, it has been a please working with the most wonderful, talented, professional company,” wrote Bruno.
“Dancing With the Stars” has not yet been renewed for season 31. If it is renewed, it will return in September 2022. “Strictly Come Dancing” will premiere its 20th season in the fall of 2022.