Strictly Come Dancing‘s Camilla Dallerup has said the show needs the age and experience of Arlene Phillips.

Camilla told the Daily Mirror she will miss Arlene, 66, who has been replaced on the judging panel of the BBC1 show by 30-year-old Alesha Dixon.

The Danish dancer, 35, said: “I have a lot of respect for Arlene and feel privileged I got to work with her, everyone will miss her.”

She added: “It’s important to keep older people on programmes like Strictly because it was fantastic to have someone with so much experience. You can’t beat it.

“I hate to think her going was to do with her age. That would be very sad. Arlene always got the best out of the dancers. Alesha has big shoes to fill.

“It’s been hard for her because she’s had to hear so many people saying they want Arlene back. Everyone is jumping to conclusions that Alesha won’t do well but people should give her a chance.

“She might be fantastic. She is a fantastic performer. I’m sure Arlene’s been touched by the amount of support for her. But I know her and she’s a tough cookie. She’ll be OK.”

TV presenter Judith Chalmers, 72, also branded the BBC ‘disgraceful’ for its treatment of Arlene.

Judith fumed: “It’s obvious they have just gone for looks. It’s a great shame because Arlene really knew her stuff. Are you going to tell me Alesha Dixon will have that authority? It’s age discrimination and is disgraceful, really.”

She added: “I’ve nothing against younger presenters. There’s room for both.”