Arlene Phillips turned down Strictly three times before joining BBC dancing show

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Arlene Phillips has revealed that she turned down Strictly Come Dancing three times before joining the BBC show.

The 78-year-old choreographer appeared as a judge alongside Len Goodman, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli from 2004 until she was replaced by Alesha Dixon in 2009.

She told Celebrity Search Engine podcast host Abbie McCarthy about why she signed up for the programme.

Arlene explained: "I said no three times. So I went to do this pilot, and Len Goodman was there, there was another kind of judge stand-in person, and there were some of the dancers we know, Anton was there, Brendan was there… it felt like chaos!

"Then Len turned to me and he said, 'I don't know about this, are you going to do it?', and I said, 'I don't know, are you?' and he said, 'I'll do it if you do it!'. And then we both agreed to do it!"

Discussing her Strictly experience, she added: "It was one of the most exciting things I've done in my life!"

Alesha quit Strictly for a role as a judge on Britain's Got Talent in 2011 and Darcey Bussell joined the panel in 2012.

The retired ballerina dancer left the show in 2018 and her role was taken over by Motsi Mabuse.

Original Strictly head judge Len quit the show after 14 series in 2016 and was replaced by Shirley Ballas in 2017.

Craig and Bruno have appeared in every series since the BBC competition originated in 2004.

However, Bruno was only present via video call during the eighteenth series last year due to travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He was not replaced on the panel.

Strictly bosses reportedly have once again barred reality stars from signing up to this year’s series.

The BBC dancing show has been "inundated with requests" from stars from the likes of Love Island and TOWIE but unfortunately for them, the bosses have decided that they will continue to shut them out, it's claimed.

Speaking to The Sun, an insider said: "It’s no secret that Strictly had a blanket ban on fame-hungry reality stars in the past, but the celebs had hoped things would ease up a bit after a few YouTubers appeared in the line-up in past years.

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"The stars have been ramping up their interest ahead of the new series and while it’s still very early in the selection process, a lot of names have been dismissed already – purely because of where they started out."

However, the BBC told the Daily Star: "There’s no truth to this story, in fact you may remember we have had Mark Wright and from last series Jamie Lang."

Made in Chelsea hunk Jamie reached the Strictly final last year, and former The Only Way Is Essex star Mark finished in fourth place back in 2014.

Strictly Come Dancing is expected to return to BBC One later this year

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