Strictly Come Dancing 2020 judges: Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Shirley Ballas are back - but where is Bruno Tonioli?

The NTA and Bafta award-winning entertainment show returns with more sparkle, glitz and glamour than ever. But who - and more importantly where - are this year's judges?

By Alex Fletcher Published: 16 October 2020 - 6.56pm
BBC

The 2020 series of Strictly Come Dancing starts off with the launch show on October 17, when we'll meet this year’s celebrities and discover their professional partners.

But this year’s battle for the Glitterball trophy will have a different look and feel to normal with Covid-19 placing restrictions on the studio audience and the scale of the series.

There will also be one big difference on this year’s judging panel with Bruno Tonioli – who has been part of the show since series 1 - taking a reduced role due to travel restrictions on flights to the UK from his home in the US.

So who will be on this year’s judging panel?

Shirley Ballas

Shirley Ballas - Strictly Come Dancing head judge BBC

Ballroom champion Shirley Ballas became Strictly’s head judge in 2017 following the departure of Len Goodman.

The Queen of Latin has a strict and technical approach to judging, which was very different to Len.

Her first series included a significant amount of controversy after she had a live TV row with Brendan Cole over her comments about Good Morning Britain's Charlotte Hawkins.

The 60-year-old began dancing at the age of seven and went on to become a Latin American dance champion in the UK and the US.

Craig Revel Horwood

The ‘Mr Nasty’ of Strictly will be returning for his 18th series of the show this autumn

The Australian-born star has appeared in musicals such as West Side Story, La Cage Aux Folles and Me and My Girl.

Motsi Mabuse

Motsi Mabuse on Strictly Come Dancing BBC

The South African dancer is the older sister of Strictly professional - and 2019 winner - Oti and joined the BBC judging panel in 2019, becoming an instant hit with fans.

She was previously a judge on the German version of Strictly Come Dancing, called Let’s Dance.

Motsi is a former South African Champion and German Latin Champion in 2009 and 2010.

Where is Bruno Tonioli?

Bruno Tonioli dancing with Shirley Ballas BBC

The vivacious, flamboyant and rambunctious judge was determined to be part of the new series of Strictly, but due to international travel restrictions can’t fly in from Los Angeles to attend the Saturday shows.

Instead, he will be keeping a close eye on the series throughout its run and will be involved remotely in the Sunday night results show each week.

Plus, Bruno has promised to make a grand return to the show towards the end of this year's contest.

The Italian 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 are Strictly's former judges?

Darcey Bussell

Now a Dame, Darcey Bussell left the Strictly Come Dancing family in 2018 after seven years on the panel.

Announcing her exit, Darcey said: "It has been a complete privilege for me to be part of Strictly, working with such a talented team.

"I have enjoyed every minute of my time and will miss everyone from my fellow judges, the presenters, the dancers, the musicians, the entire back stage team, and especially the viewers of the show, who have been so supportive.

"I am not leaving because of any upset or disagreement at all, I am just stepping away to give more focus to my many other commitments in dance, after seven truly wonderful years that I can’t imagine having gone any better.

"I know I will miss being part of this unique show and the fact that it celebrates dance is something I am so passionate about. I hope that I may be very lucky to be asked back again one day."

Len Goodman

The original Head Judge retired from the show in 2017, making his final appearance in the Christmas special.

Len has continued as a judge on Dancing With The Stars in America and returned to the BBC as the host of gameshow Partners in Rhyme.

Arlene Phillips

Arlene was the face of dance on the BBC in the early 00s, starring on Strictly and working on reality shows DanceX, Strictly Dance Fever and So You Think You Can Dance.

She was controversially dropped from the judge lineup after series 6, prompting complaints of ageism when she was replaced by Alesha Dixon.

Alesha Dixon

Alesha was a controversial replacement for Arlene Phillips, taking on the job only two years after winning series 5 in 2007.

After a shaky start, Alesha proved to be a hit with viewers and ratings continued to rise before she was poached by Simon Cowell for Britain’s Got Talent after three series as a Strictly judge.

Strictly Come Dancing returns on Saturday, October 17 on BBC One.