Arlene Phillips has laid into this year’s Strictly Come Dancing contestants – and dismissed Ann Widdecombe as “a joke too far”.

The former judge’s cutting comments to Hello! magazine also saw her laying into the former MP for her weight.

“She looks as though she’s eaten too many bagels,” the choreographer said of the ex-Home Office minister.

She said she doubted the public would warm to her in the way they embraced another unlikely contestant, John Sergeant, who inspired Widdecombe to take part.

“I don’t know whether she’ll be as interesting as John Sergeant or last as long. She could be somebody who people get bored with very quickly, a joke too far.”

Arlene, who was axed from Strictly and replaced by Alesha Dixon which led to claims of ageism, was also dismissive of Gavin Henson’s chances.

She said of the rugby star and former partner of Charlotte Church: “I think he’s going to regret this big time. When I saw him on the launch show, ‘unhappy’ was the word that sprang to mind. He looks frozen.”

Former Coronation Street actress Tina O’Brien also came in for criticism following her appearance on the launch show.

Arlene told Hello!: “What I saw of her dancing wasn’t very pleasant to the eye. She looked like she was all over the place.”

No-nonsense Arlene, 67, tipped a couple of the older female stars to do well – Felicity Kendal and Pamela Stephenson.

Pamela would be “the entertainer of the bunch”, she said. “She’s got timing and rhythm. I think she’ll be a knockout.” And of Felicity, she concluded: “Looks like she’s got dancer’s legs.”