Arlene Phillips has revealed her heartache over being replaced by Alesha Dixon as Strictly Come Dancing‘s judge, in an email to a close friend, according to the Daily Mirror.

While the 66-year-old choreographer has not publicly spoken about her departure, Debbie Moore, a friend of 30 years, revealed that when she sent Arlene an email asking how she was, she replied: “I’m really sad.”

Speaking out against the BBC‘s decision to axe Arlene, which has received 1,427 complaints in total, Debbie said: “I’m really angry she’s being treated like this. She loved the show and said it was the best thing she’s ever done.”

Debbie added: “Replacing her with Alesha Dixon doesn’t make sense. Arlene is a world-class choreographer. If they wanted Alesha, they should have got rid of one of the men. The BBC is going to alienate the existing viewers.”

Another of Arlene’s close friends, Cleo Rocos, 47, who she worked with on the Kenny Everett Show in the Eighties, said: “Arlene really knew her stuff. Having Alesha doing her job is like me going on Top Gear to talk about cars.”

A Daily Mirror poll revealed that more than two million Strictly fans – nearly a fifth of viewers – could snub the next series in protest of Arlene’s departure.

This could lead to the BBC losing 2.2 million of the 12.97 million viewers who watched the last series’ final.

The online survey, which the Daily Mirror commissioned last week, found that 44 per cent of the 1,305 people asked, believe the BBC was wrong to get rid of Arlene, while 50 per cent felt it was being ageist.

Only nine per cent thought it was a good idea to bring in Alesha.