Why is Bruno Tonioli not on Strictly tonight and when will he be back on the judging panel?
BRUNO Tonioli has been a member of the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel since the show launched in 2004.
Although the panel has had some changes over the years the professional dancer has always had a seat on the high table, but why won't he be there this year?
Why is Bruno Tonioli not on Strictly tonight?
Due to coronavirus travel restrictions, 64-year-old ballroom expert Bruno Tonioli is stuck in the US, where he acts as a judge on Dancing with the Stars.
Tonioli has been able to fly between the US and the UK to film both Dancing with the Stars and Strictly in previous years, however this is no longer possible.
In a statement, Bruno said: “I absolutely adore being part of Strictly and can’t wait to see what incredible dancing this year has in store! Lockdown has resulted in me being in LA for the foreseeable, but I’m excited to be involved as much as I possibly can. There was no cha-cha-chance I’d miss out!”
Who is Bruno Tonioli's replacement?
It is believed the show will go on with just the three other judges – Craig Revel-Horwood, Shirley Ballas and Motsi Mabuse.
Bruno is expected to be involved only during the result shows by video link.
Former Girls Aloud singer Cheryl had been tipped as the most likely star to replace him.
The singer was on the panel of The X Factor and on BBC's The Greatest Dancer.
Former Strictly judge Len Goodman's name had also been mentioned.
Lockdown stopped Len resuming his panel job on Dancing With The Stars in the US, so he has remained in the UK and would be available if Strictly came calling.
Other stars that were in with a chance of sitting on the judging panel include Anton Du Beke, Stacey Dooley and James Jordan.
Will Bruno Tonioli be back?
At the moment it doesn't look like Bruno will feature on the show in person this year.
However, the Italian has promised to be involved virtually and hopes to return to the show towards the end of the season if possible.
The BBC confirmed: “Bruno will be keeping a close eye on the series throughout the run and will be involved remotely in the Sunday night Results show each week, from across the pond.’
“Plus, Bruno will be making his grand return to the show full time towards the end of the series,” the broadcaster added.
Head Strictly judge Shirley Ballas has previously said she thinks Tonioli would try to appear in every episode. “All I can say is, I’ve known Bruno 11 years. If there is a way to fly backwards and forwards, he will find the way.”
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