The end of a twinkle-toed era was signalled by the recent announcement that after 10 years and 11 series, Sir Bruce Forsyth, 86, is stepping down from the Strictly Come Dancing live shows. His retirement leaves a gaping hole in the BBC’s ballroom but who will fill it?
Speculation now inevitably turns to his replacement. This is a huge casting decision for the BBC, up there with the identity of the next Doctor Who.
Strictly Come Dancing is one of their flagship programmes and has trounced arch ratings rival The X Factor in recent years. With svengali Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole returning to the ITV singing contest this autumn, the BBC won’t want Strictly to lose momentum.
Long-serving professional dancer Anton Du Beke has been tipped for a presenting role and is already installed as bookies favourite, reports The Telegraph. He possesses Bruce’s retro charm and even his jawline, but is a rookie presenter a wise choice for such a high-profile show?
With co-presenter Tess Daly still in place, there’s been speculation that her husband, Vernon Kay, could move over from ITV to partner her. However, he feels too cheesy and bland for such a big franchise.
Other names in the frame include showman John Barrowman, former Strictly finalist Gethin Jones, well-loved Scouse wag Paul O’Grady and even Ronnie Corbett, who’s filled in for Bruce before.
Comedian-turned-chat-show-host Graham Norton might even fancy the job. He would work well alongside the popular Claudia Winkleman, who could be promoted from her current role on the Sunday Results Show and as Bruce’s stand-in.
Whoever gets the coveted glitterball gig, this autumn’s 12th series of Strictly promises to be one of the most intriguing yet.
Bruce might be taking off his bow tie but the show must go on. Keeeeeeep dancing.