A number of names have been mentioned as possibly taking Alesha’s place on the panel between Bruno and Len including Karen Hardy, Kara Tointon, Nicole Scherzinger, Darcey Bussell, Arlene Phillips (the woman who Alesha Dixon replaced), Chelsee Healey, Ola Jordan, Jennifer Grey, Holly Valance, Jill Halfpenny and the outside bet is Russell Grant.
The initial favourite appeared to be Karen Hardy who apart from being a previous winner with celebrity partner Mark Ramprakash, is also very knowledgable on dancing generally and is often seen as an expert commentator on the Strictly weekday programme It Takes Two. She also has a great personality and is easy on the eye. Going against her is the fact that she is 41-years old and the BBC are thought to want someone a lot younger than the other 3 judges on the panel to appeal to some of the X Factor audience that they managed to steal away from ITV during the last series.
Retired ballerina Darcey Bussell also possibly has her age against her as she is 42-years old but as well as her stunning dance career she has in her favour the fact that she has already acted as a guest judge on Strictly during the 2009 series. She would be another popular appointment with many Strictly fans who want another judge appointed with a strong understanding of, and background in, dance.
Yesterday’s favourite if you were watching Twitter activity appeared to be Arlene Phillips although she has not yet said that she would be interested in returning to her old role. The BBC may also not want to appear to be backtracking on their 2009 decision to remove Phillips from the judging panel.
Although Nicole Scherzinger might appear to only qualify on age and looks that is in fact not the case as she was a previous winner of the US version of Strictly, Dancing With The Stars, back in 2010 when she won the competition after being paired with professional dancer Derek Hough, the man who Cheryl Cole said had saved her life when she contracted malaria. Nicole may also have an advantage as her appointment would bring extra glamour to the show through her relationship with F1 star Lewis Hamilton.
However according to many bookmakers today the current favourite to take over Alesha’s judging role is Kara Tointon, the winner of Strictly in 2010 with current boyfriend Artem Chigvintsev. Apart from her Strictly link she is also the right sort of age (28) to fit in with the look the BBC are thought to want for the panel. One negative may actually be linked to one of her positives in that Kara lives with current Strictly dance pro Artem and it would surely not be looked on too kindly if she was scoring her own boyfriend on the show.
Other outside bets for the judging role include Claudia Winkelman who has the looks, bags of personality, plenty of fans and also a strong link with Strictly although if you have seen her dancing with Len Goodman possibly not the dance credibility. An even longer odds bet would be comic Miranda Hart who is a massive Strictly fan and would also bring a huge number of devoted fans to the show.
Dancing on Ice – the ITV ice skating show looks like it may turn into something of a car crash this series as a number of the competitors have already needed to visit hospital with one of them already ruled out of the show which doesn’t even start until this Sunday.
1990’s singing star Chesney Hawkes has already had to be replaced by former X Factor contestant Chico as he suffered a fractured fibula and a severe ankle strain whilst practising with his partner Jodeyne Higgins. He said of his early exit: “I am gutted not to be taking part in Dancing on Ice. I was having a brilliant time and couldn’t wait to finally be skating live on national TV! It wasn’t even a spectacular fall, it was a slight stumble as I practiced with my skating partner. I think my children are the most disappointed they were so excited at the prospect of watching me skate.”
As well as Chesney several other people are said to be struggling with injuries prior to Sunday’s opening programme. Sugababe Heidi Range has been rushed to hospital after she was thought to have broken her wrist in training. Although these fears now seem to be unfounded it has been announced that her professional partner Sylvain Longchambon will be out for at least one programme after he tore a bicep muscle.
Eastenders star Laila Morse was diagnosed with ripped muscles in her shoulder and needs an operation but has decided to wait for this until after the series ends which is not pleasing her doctors. At 66 Laila is the oldest competitor in this series and does not want to miss her chance to appear on the programme.
One of the favourites to lift the title this series is actress Jennifer Ellison and is used to being under pressure in the public eye as she previously took part in Hell’s Kitchen, winning the series in 2004. She has also been suffering in the run up to the opening Dancing On Ice programme and twisted her knee trying to do the splits, ending up in hospital to get her leg strapped up.
Two other competitors have also suffered injuries in training with Rosemary Conley pulling a muscle in her groin doing a high kick and US actress Charlene Tilton, famous for her role as Lucy in Dallas, injuring her shoulder.
The new series of Dancing On Ice starts this Sunday (8th January) on ITV1 at 6.30 p.m.