Entertainment

Monday 23 September 2019

Arlene Phillips to make Strictly return after being axed amid ageism row

She is choreographing a routine on Sunday’s show.

Arlene Phillips is making her Strictly Come Dancing return – nine years after she was axed amid an ageism row at the BBC (Ian West/PA Wire)
Arlene Phillips is making her Strictly Come Dancing return – nine years after she was axed amid an ageism row at the BBC (Ian West/PA Wire)

By Keiran Southern, Press Association Los Angeles Correspondent

Arlene Phillips is making her Strictly Come Dancing return – nine years after she was axed amid an ageism row at the BBC.

The 75-year-old, a former judge on the show, is said to be choreographing a routine involving Strictly’s professional dancers for Sunday’s show.

Phillips was 66 when she was dropped from the Strictly line-up and replaced by the then 30-year-old Alesha Dixon in 2009, sparking allegations of ageism against the BBC.

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Arlene Phillips is returning to Strictly to choreograph a dance (Ian West/PA)

She admitted the decision to come back was “really hard”.

Phillips told The Sun: “I did this because this is where my heart lies. 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.”

Phillips is said to be working with Strictly professionals and dancers from Candoco, a disabled dance company.

She said it would be emotional to return and has not yet decided if she will stay and watch the main event on Saturday evening.

At the time, Phillips’ dismissal 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.

PA Media

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