Strictly Come Dancing‘s Bruno Tonioli tells TV Times magazine how the show is in safe hands with Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman

How do you think the show will be with Tess and Claudia?

“Obviously, when you have someone who is as ingrained in the fabric of the show as Bruce, it’s like an institution. Of course we’re going to miss him, especially me because we had so many amusing repartees off-camera. He’s a great guy and everyone is sad to see him go. But at the same time, it’s not going to be a great shock because the girls have done the show many times and it runs as smoothly as ever.

“Let’s say it’s going to be a progression. It’s an evolution. It’s tried and tested. They are part of the family.”

Do you have any early predictions about who will do well on the show?

“You may think that someone could or could not do well, but it takes a few rounds to get a pretty clear idea. And then unpredictable things happen. There are so many elements that come into play when you do a live show that you cannot second guess. Anything could happen.”

How do you see yourself on the panel?

“If you bothered to actually listen, I’m probably the least mad of the lot! The difference is, I do it in character. It’s something that has evolved. It’s not a conscious decision, it’s not your everyday place, so it feels natural to pitch myself at a certain level. I’m not like that every day. It’s a performance. We’re in a theatre situation and I don’t want to bore these people to death. They are watching you for an hour-and-a-half so you’ve got to give them something. You have to entertain them. It’s not the judgement at Nuremberg. It’s Strictly Come Dancing.”

How do you feel about returning to Strictly?

“It’s like rediscovering your first love every time we come back. It still feels as fresh and new as ever. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t feel excited about it, I really wouldn’t. I wouldn’t do it just to be on telly, I couldn’t care less. It is one of the best shows on television because it has everything: incredible entertainment values, it’s glamorous, it’s funny, it’s exciting, it’s inspiring, it’s unpredictable and it’s a great variety show. It’s not a reality show at all.”

Do you think the show is still fresh?

“It has evolved, like any art form. If you see some of the things we do now, they are far more elaborate. There is still an element of unpredictability, there is great drama, but it’s still great fun. Creatively we keep pushing and pushing – we really try to keep it fresh and relevant. You have to keep people on their toes. It’s like a love affair, you have to keep the spice going.”

How about the rest of the judges?

“We’re all pros. We’ve never really fallen out. We’re all very strong personalities, but if there’s ever been any disagreement on the panel, it’s been there for everyone to see. Once the show is over, you don’t carry it home. That’s your opinion, that’s my opinion, then we all move on.”

Why do you keep coming back to Strictly?

“It seems like yesterday we started. That’s why I keep doing it. It doesn’t feel like 10 years. The show is a magical whirlwind. It’s very fresh and alive and has an energy that carries you. There is a sense that it has familiarity, but it still manages to excite you. If we can maintain that, then the show has a very long shelf-life indeed.”