Strictly Come Dancing is one of the most significant programmes in British popular culture, with the show appearing on our screens every year since it launched in 2004. This year’s series is the 16thedition of the show, with fifteen contestants all aiming to win the Glitterball trophy.
The early odds on the Strictly odds 2018 site suggest that YouTuber Joe Sugg is one of the early favourites, but there is still a long way to go and they’ll have to impress the judges who will be watching their every move.
In total there have been 7 permanent judges in the show’s history, each with their own background in the entertainment industry before they managed to secure their role on the judging panel.
Until 2016, Len Goodman was the head judge on Strictly Come Dancing. The 74 year old was an instant favourite amongst fans thanks to his cheeky one-liners and playful ‘banter’ with the contestants and dancers.
Although Goodman made a career out of dancing, his first job was actually as a welder, a job he got at the age of 15 after dropping out of education. It wasn’t until he was 19 that he started getting involved in dancing. After breaking a bone playing football, his doctor recommended that he take up ballroom dancing as light exercise.
This natural talent attracted the attention of former world champion Henry Kingston who told him: “You have potential – if you work at it”. This led to Goodman turning professional where he won various competitions and eventually retired from dancing after winning the British Championships at Blackpool in his late twenties.
Since leaving the dancing programme to enjoy his twilight years, Goodman has not made many public appearances, but did host the family game show ‘Partners in Rhyme’ in 2017.
Craig Revel Horwood
Since the show’s inception in 2004, Craig Revel Horwood has been a mainstay on the judging panel. During his time on the show, Horwood has gained a reputation of being the harshest judge on the panel and has often been booed by the studio audience for his scores and comments on the dancing.
Prior to his role on the popular dancing show, Horwood has been involved in dancing in numerous ways over the years. After professionally training in his hometown in Ballarat, Australia, Horwood moved to Melbourne and appeared in numerous productions before moving to Europe and joining different dance and entertainment companies such as Panache and Formidable.
Before becoming a judge on the show, Horwood has also been involved with the theatre, being the director and choreographer in many West End shows.
Like Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli has appeared as a main judge since the first series in 2004. The Italian has become an iconic part of the show and is the one judge that manages to inject laughter and energy into the panel.
Born in north-east Italy in 1955, Tonioli has been involved with dancing for the majority of his life. In the early 1980s, the flamboyant dancer worked extensively as a freelance dancer, and was also a member of the French company La Grande Eugène and later joined the Lindsay Kemp Company.
The Italian was also involved in the music business, being a choreographer for music videos, stage shows and tours. Most notably, he worked for artists such as Tina Turner, Sting, Sir Elton John, and Freddie Mercury.
World renowned West End and Broadway choreographer and director Arlene Phillips was a judge in the first six seasons (2004 – 2008) of the show. Her departure from the show was controversial, but it doesn’t take away from the fantastic career that she has had.
Before her four year spell as a judge, Phillips was instrumental in some of the biggest musicals in the West End and Broadway, but also has many other professional credits. Some of the more popular theatre shows that she helped choreograph include The Wizard of Oz (2011), Grease, We Will Rock You, and The Sound of Music (2006 Revival).
After winning series 5 with dancing partner Matthew Cutler, Dixon returned to the show in 2009, this time as a judge. Her appointment was met with a lot of criticism due to her lack of dancing knowledge compared to the professional dancers and former judge Arlene Phillips.
Before her appearance on Strictly Come Dancing, Dixon rose to fame with the girl group Mis-Teeq. From 1999 until 2005, Mis-Teeq were fairly successful in the music industry, recording numerous hit songs and often reaching the top 10 in the music charts.
Following the bands split in 2005, Dixon went on to have a successful solo career, releasing four studio albums and appearing on multiple television shows, such as Strictly Come Dancing and Britain’s Got Talent.
Dame Darcey Bussell
Following Alesha Dixon’s departure from the show at the end of Series 9, Dame Darcey Bussell was brought in as her replacement and has stayed on the judging panel ever since.
Prior to her role as a Strictly judge, Bussell was a ballet dancer. Starting her professional training at a young age, Bussell moved to the Royal Ballet School at 13 to continue her studies and ended up joining the Royal Ballet in 1988 where she would spend the entirety of her ballet career. During her career, Bussell would end up performing in all of the major classical roles such as Masha in Winter Dreams and Princess Rose in The Prince of the Pagodas.
Since her retirement from ballet in 2007, Bussell has been getting involved with numerous television, book, and modelling projects. The retired ballerina was also a guest judge on Strictly in Series 7 for two weeks before she got the job full time.
Ballas is the newest head judge on Strictly Come Dancing, after replacing Len Goodman following his departure from the show in 2016.
The English-born ballroom dancer specialises in the International Latin division, where she won several championship titles which earned her the nickname ‘The Queen of Latin’. Her most successful period came in the mid-1980s where she came second in the 1982, 1983 and 1985 Professional World Latin Dance Championships, first in the 1983 International Latin American Dance Championship, and the 1984 UK Open Champions in Professional Latin.
Following her retirement from professional dance competitions in 1996, Ballas became a dance coach and judge for ballroom and Latin American competitions before she was chosen to become the new head judge.