Entertainment & Arts

Strictly Come Dancing: Who could replace Len Goodman?

Len Goodman Image copyright Ray Burmiston

The news that Len Goodman is to step down from Strictly Come Dancing after its next series has generated much speculation on who might replace him.

The show's head judge said on Wednesday the forthcoming series, which begins in the autumn, will be his last.

Here are seven possible contenders for the plum position on BBC One's hugely popular hit:

Ashley Banjo

Street dancer Banjo shot to fame in 2009 when his dance troupe Diversity were crowned winners - at Susan Boyle's expense - of the third series of Britain's Got Talent.

The London-born performer and choreographer went on to become a judge on Sky1 talent show Got to Dance, which ran for five series between 2009 and 2014.

Earlier this year he was seen on BBC One game show Can't Touch This, co-hosting alongside Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two host Zoe Ball.

The 27-year-old recently told the Daily Mirror he would be keen to appear as a celebrity contestant on Strictly, while admitting "the disciplines are completely different" from his preferred form of expression.

Sir Matthew Bourne

Image copyright Getty Images

Sir Matthew, 56, is one of the UK's most popular and successful choreographers and directors.

His production of Swan Lake, first staged in 1995, revolutionised the show by featuring an all-male swan corps de ballet.

The Tony and Olivier winner is also an avid fan of Strictly Come Dancing, regular commenting on the programme on his personal Twitter feed.

"I seriously appreciate what Strictly's done for dance," he said last year.

"What Strictly's done is make everyone into critics to a certain extent, because we all look and analyse the dances."

Anton Du Beke

Du Beke has been a professional dancer on Strictly since the show began in 2004.

Were he to hang up his dancing shoes, he might be ideally suited to take on a judging role.

The 49-year-old has yet to be a winner on the show, but he reached the final in last year's series when he competed with Katie Derham. The pair finished in fourth place.

He has also been critical of the adjudicators in the past, finding particular fault with US singer Donny Osmond's role as guest judge in 2014.

"It wasn't the greatest thing to happen," he told the Telegraph. "They just need to make sure they have someone from a dance background on the panel."

Bookmaker Coral has made Du Beke 2/1 favourite to replace Goodman on the panel.

Karen Hardy

Image copyright Getty Images

Karen Hardy is no Strictly stranger - she is a former professional dancer on the show and even won it in 2006 after being paired with cricketer Mark Ramprakash.

She left the programme in 2009, the year after she and partner Gary Rhodes were eliminated in the third week.

Hardy did, however, continue to appear on spin-off show, Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two, and became one of its regular guests in 2011.

Her "choreography corner" feature, where she would review the previous Saturday programme, has become a Tuesday night staple of the sister show.

She also opened her own London dance school - Karen Hardy Studios - in 2008.

Bookmaker Coral has made Hardy 12/1 third favourite to step into Goodman's shoes.

Nigel Lythgoe

Lythgoe, 67, was already a successful choreographer and producer by the time he entered the public consciousness as "Nasty Nigel" on ITV's talent search Popstars.

The success of that show took him to the US, where he became producer, co-creator and judge on competition show So You Think You Can Dance.

The programme is now in its 13th season and has spawned a number of international spin-offs, including a BBC version that ran for two years.

But he may have been premature in 2010 when he told The Guardian Strictly would eventually suffer from "burnout" and would "go off air [for] 10 or 12 years".

Arlene Phillips

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Phillips, the driving force behind the hugely popular dance group Hot Gossip, sat alongside Goodman on the judging panel when Strictly began in 2004.

But she was sensationally replaced by Alesha Dixon in 2009, a controversial decision that prompted a heated debate about ageism in the television industry.

The former dancer turned choreographer went on to become a judge, with Nigel Lythgoe, on the UK version of So You Think You Can Dance.

Now 73, she says she has "moved on" from the Strictly furore. "I don't stop and think back about it," she told The Scotsman this year.

Bookmaker Coral has made Phillips 10/1 second favourite to be Goodman's replacement.

Wayne Sleep

Sleep had a distinguished career at the Royal Ballet before touring the world with his own company Dash.

Like fellow Royal Ballet alumnus Darcey Bussell, he went on to become a judge and mentor on such shows as the BBC's Strictly Dance Fever and ITV's Stepping Out.

The diminutive 67-year-old has many other television credits to his name, among them The Hot Shoe Show, Come Dine with Me and I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!

But perhaps his most famous moment came when he danced with Princess Diana to Billy Joel's Uptown Girl at the Royal Opera House in London in 1985.

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