Strictly Come Dancing fans are currently anticipating Darcey Bussell's replacement from the show after the ballerina made the shock announcement that she was stepping down from her role as a judge. And pro dancer Anton du Beke – who is a firm favourite to replace her – has revealed that it wasn't common knowledge with even the Strictly stars that Darcey would be leaving. Talking to Graham Norton on his Radio 2 show on Saturday morning, Anton admitted that the news had come out of the blue. When asked if he knew, he said: "No, not at all. I didn't know that Pasha was going to leave, that was a bold out the blue as well. He never mentioned anything last year. Apparently, he never mentioned anything to Ashley [Roberts], his partner, either. And Darcey, exactly the same. Absolutely out of the blue."
Strictly's Anton du Beke revealed Darcey's exit was out of the blue
MORE: Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas confirms new show role
Anton would also very much love to replace Darcey on the judging panel for the 2019 series. He said: "Do you know what? I'm certainly qualified. I suspect there'll be conversations going on, but it's one of those things, I'm definitely qualified to do it, I'd love to do it, but we'll have to wait to be asked in the normal way. I wish I could make the decisions for them, but if I could do that I'd have made the final 12 times."
Everyone is guessing who will replace Darcey as a judge
While Anton would love to have a go in the judge's seat, his former dancer partner Ruth Langsford thinks that the BBC will go with a female judge to balance it out. Talking on This Morning, she said: "You need Anton really, but it isn't going to happen. I think they're going to have to go for a woman I think they will go for a woman, because of the balance… it was male heavy." However, Eamonn then noted: "I think they should have a male and female presenting in that case," with Ruth teasing him by saying he was "jealous". Referring to his wife's dancer partner, Eamonn insisted: "I'm just saying, take the best person - it would be Anton."
READ: Loose Women's Andrea McLean collapses during filming
On Wednesday, Darcey confirmed that she was leaving the show after seven years as judge. Her statement read: "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." She continued: "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."
Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.