Craig Revel Horwood responds to ‘vicious rumours’ about Strictly Come Dancing future

‘Strictly’ judge’s reaction to 2023 final left fans convinced Horwood was leaving show

Isobel Lewis
Sunday 24 December 2023 09:08 GMT
Strictly's Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola reveal how they celebrated show win

Craig Revel Horwood has shut down “vicious rumours” that he is leaving Strictly Come Dancing after 21 series.

The choreographer and musical theatre performer is the only remaining original judge on the Strictly panel, having first joined the show in 2004.

But after Horwood held back tears while watching Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola take home the Glitterball Trophy during last Saturday’s final, fans had theorised that Horwood could be hanging up his score paddle for good.

Appearing on Lorraine on Friday, Horwood – who is currently appearing in pantomime as Cinderella’s Wicked Stepmother – shut down the rumours.

Asked by host Kate Lawler whether fans would be seeing him return to the show next year, Horwood said: “Yes, you are. I’m definitely coming back. Don’t believe any of those vicious rumours, no, no, no.”

However, the 58-year-old added that he may not continue performing in group numbers alongside fellow judges Motsi Mabuse, Shirley Ballas and Anton du Beke.

“I might hang up my dancing shoes just on the stage and go towards direction, but that’s about it,” he said.

Horwood (left) with his fellow ‘Strictly’ judges
Horwood (left) with his fellow ‘Strictly’ judges (BBC/Guy Levy)

Lawler excitedly proclaimed: “We have confirmation! He’s on Strictly next year,” with Horwood punching the air and adding: “Yes, boom.”

Horwood’s future on the dance series had been called into question by fans after the show’s resident “Mr Nasty” grew emotional during the 2023 final.

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After watching Leach and partner Coppola perform their Showdance, the judge evoked series one winner, former BBC Breakfast presenter Natasha Kaplinsky.

Despite Leach and Coppola failing to land the routine’s risky final lift, Horwood praised the otherwise “flawless” dance. “I think back, actually, to series one and I was imagining Natasha Kaplinsky doing that. How far this programme has come.”

Fellow judge Mabuse then put her hand on Horwood’s shoulder in support as he held back tears and told Leach: “You’re amazing.”

Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola won ‘Strictly’
Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola won ‘Strictly’ (PA Media)

In response, some viewers questioned whether the TV judge’s emotional reaction hinted at his potential exit from the show.

“The way Craig got all emotional talking about thinking back to season one of Strictly Come Dancing is making me wonder is this his last season? He’s mentioned it a few times this year and now I’m worried he’s leaving,” one commenter wrote.

Horwood has previously said that he will leave Strictly when he turns 60, in order to “hang up my shoes and enjoy life”.

The Strictly final saw Leach and Coppola beat Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin, and Bobby Brazier and Dianne Buswell, to the title of series champion.

The show will return on Christmas Day for its annual festive special, with Sugababes star Keisha Buchanan and former England rugby player Danny Cipriani among the contestants.

The Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special airs Christmas Day at 4.40pm on BBC One.

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