Strictly Come Dancing‘s Karen Hardy is likely to stay in the show in a new role after it emerged the decision to leave the dancefloor was ‘mutual’.

The corporation has been at the centre of a new ageism row after it was reported 39-year-old Karen and other experienced professionals were being replaced by dancers in their 20s for the new series.

The news followed the controversy over the decision to sack Arlene Phillips, 66, from the judging panel on the BBC One show in favour of former winner Alesha Dixon.

Karen, who won with cricketer Mark Ramprakash in 2006, said: “I’ve enjoyed a great four years on Strictly Come Dancing and I’m discussing new ways I can be both involved in the show this year and pursue a number of exciting projects and opportunities that have come my way.”

A BBC spokesman said: “The decision to change Karen’s role has absolutely nothing to do with age. It was a mutual decision between her and the BBC.

“She’s been a fantastic dancer on Strictly for the past four years and we are in discussions with her as to what her new role will be in this year’s series.”

An insider said this could involve a role in spin-off show It Takes Two, on BBC2.