TV & Movies

Strictly Come Dancing fans convinced Karen Hardy will take over from Darcey Bussell as viewers launch campaign to bring back Arlene Philips

A CAMPAIGN to bring Arlene Phillips back to the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel gathered pace today – even though fans are convinced Karen Hardy will land the role.

The dramatic departure of Darcey Bussell yesterday fired the starting gun on a frenzy of speculation about who will replace the 48-year-old.

And though Karen Hardy remains favourite at 4/1 closely followed by Oti Mabuse and Anton Du Beke, there is a big movement among Arlene's fans.

One insisted: "Get Arlene Phillips back on Strictly in Darcey's place."

Others wrote: "Got to be Arlene Phillips" and "Bring back Arlene Phillips xx."

A fourth insisted: "Petition to reinstate Arlene Phillips on Strictly now that lovely Darcey has stepped down! BRING BACK THE QUEEN ❤️?."

Another had a more radical plan, explaining: "Good news would be that Arlene Phillips returns as a judge and Anton DuBeck replaces Tess Daly!"

Darcey announced yesterday that she would not be returning for the 2019 series.

She said: "It has been a complete privilege for me to be part of Strictly, working with such a talented team.

"I have enjoyed every minute of my time and will miss everyone from my fellow judges, the presenters, the dancers, the musicians, the entire back stage team, and especially the viewers of the show, who have been so supportive."

She added: "I am just stepping away to give more focus to my many other commitments in dance, after seven truly wonderful years that I can’t imagine having gone any better."

Karen, who competed as a pro dancer on the show from 2005 to 2009 and is a regular contributor to It Takes Two, is the top tip to take the role.

The 48-year-old was even approached by show bosses to take over from Len Goodman as head judge, but lost out to Shirley Ballas.

One fan wrote: "Please @bbcstrictly get @the_karenhardy in. She'd be the perfect replacement."

Another said: "Needs to be someone with Latin and Ballroom experience and @the_karenhardy has bucket loads!!!!!!"

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