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Strictly Come Dancing: Arlene Phillips making return to BBC show, nine years after being axed amid ageism row

'I did this because this is where my heart lies'

Jack Shepherd
Friday 23 November 2018 10:34 GMT
Strictly judge Arlene Phillips
Strictly judge Arlene Phillips (Rex Features)

Former Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips is returning to the show, nine years after being axed amid an ageism row at the BBC.

The 75-year-old has reportedly choreographed a routine involving the series’s professional dancers for Sunday’s show (25 November).

Phillips — who was 66-years-old at the time — was replaced by Alesha Dixon, 30, on the show in 2009, sparking allegations of ageism against the BBC.

Speaking to The Sun, Phillips said the decision to come back was “really hard”.

“I did this because this is where my heart lies,” she said. “I didn’t do this about resolving anything with Strictly. Was it hard for me to say yes? I’ve got to tell you, it was really hard.”

She has been working with Strictly’s dancers and dancers from the disabled dance company Candoco for the routine. Due to the emotional weight of returning to the show, Phillips has not yet decided whether she will stay and watch the main event on Saturday evening.

At the time, Phillips’ dismissal from Strictly caused a national controversy, with the then Labour deputy leader and equalities minister Harriet Harman standing up in the Commons and demanding she be reinstated. The BBC denied ageism was a factor in the line-up change.

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