Arlene Phillips spoken about her new replacement on the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel.

Talking about 30-year-old singer and Strictly winner Alesha Dixon, Arlene said: “I think Alesha will be an interesting addition – she smiles a lot and I’m sure she will bring that to the panel… I would imagine she’ll be very nice to the dancers.”

The 66 year old insists she’s not bitter about being axed from the show: “It happened. That’s life. But I’ve moved on. I still see the judges – Bruno and I are great friends and go way back. And I know Brucie will miss teasing me.”

Arlene revealed that her favourite couples to win the dancing show this year are Jo Wood and Brendan Cole, and Natalie Cassidy and Vincent Simone.

She said: “I’m most excited about Jo and Brendan. Brendan is one of my favourites – he’s not afraid to do what he wants on the floor. Jo wants to win and will put everything into it. He will dance her until her toes bleed.

“I’ve got my eye on feisty and naughty Natalie. She’s in good hands with Vincent, a ladies’ man who knows how to make his partner feel sexy. She’ll sink into his arms and dance her heart out.”

But Arlene isn’t as hopeful when it comes to Phil Tufnell’s dancing abilities, calling him “this year’s John Sergeant”.

She said: “Everyone will love him but I’m worried he might end up treading on poor Katya’s toes.”

Discussing the hard rehearsal regime the celebrities are going through, Arlene believes EastEnders’ Ricky Groves won’t have much of a chance for a rest with Erin Boag as his dancing partner.

She explained: “He’ll be whipped into shape with Strictly’s very on Miss Whiplash. There will be no fun for him.”