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Meet the Strictly Come Dancing judges - including the ones you definitely forgot

The show has seen the likes of Shirley Ballas, Len Goodman and even Alfonso Ribeiro

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Francesca Shillcock
Francesca ShillcockSenior Features Writer
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Strictly Come Dancing is in full swing with this series already having delivered plenty of iconic moments from Tony Adams' samba to the Full Monty to Hamza Yassin's show-stopping salsa in just week four!

READ: Rose Ayling-Ellis predicts Strictly Come Dancing's 2022 winner

As the celebs head to the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, none of them have yet been able to grab that perfect score. The judges are hard to impress and all have had years of experience in the field to deliver the perfect ciritiques to the dancers. But how much do you know about our Strictily judges? Delve into this article to meet the four currently sat on the panel from head judge Shirley Ballas to original star Craig Rebel Horwood, and even encounter some judges you totally forgot about.

WATCH: Tyler West dazzles Strictly judges and gets first 10s of the series!

Shirley Ballas

Shirley Ballas holding a 10 paddle© Photo: Getty Images

She's currently the Strictly Come Dancing head judge and, Shirley Ballas is no stranger to critiquing routines. Before Strictly, Shirley enjoyed a professional dancing career, earning the nickname "The Queen of Latin", and won several national and international championship titles.

In 1996, Shirley stopped competing as a professional dancer and began a career as a dance coach and judge for ballroom and Latin American competitions. As well as bringing expertise, she certainly brings the glam!

MORE: Strictly's Shirley Ballas sets the record straight on fall-out with co-star

Craig Revel Horwood

Craig Revel Horwood dancing© Photo: Getty Images

Having been a judge on the panel since the show began in 2004, Craig Revel Horwood is part of the Strictly Come Dancing furniture. As well as being a long-standing judge on the show, Craig has been involved in the musical theatre world as a performer, choreographer and director of many West End shows, such as West Side Story and Miss Saigon.

He's known for his professional credentials, but he's also the judge everyone loves to boo, offering up his sharp-tongued comments to the hopeful contestants – and he's not afraid of using that '3' paddle! It's safe to say the show wouldn't be the same without him…

MORE: Helen Skelton makes rare comment about her bond with Gorka's partner Gemma Atkinson

Motsi Mabuse

Motsi Mabuse© Photo: Getty Images

Motsi has truly settled into her role as a judge on Strictly after joining the panel in 2019. There were initially raised eyebrows over casting as she was sister to Oti Mabuse, but the honest judge showed no favouritism towards her sister during her time on the show. Motsi is known for her high-energy, joy, and some iconic hair looks that have fans gasping whenever she arrives on screen. Before Strictly, she was a judge on the German version, Let's Dance, after previously competing as a professional.

Anton du Beke

Anton du Beke© Photo: Getty Images

Anton is the latest judge to join the Strictly judging panel, but he was well-known to fans of the show, having served as a professional dancer ahead of his appearance. Anton was a guest judge in series 18, before properly joining the panel in 2020 after Bruno Tonioli departed. Having danced on the ballroom floor, Anton is able to sympathise more with the contestants and if never afraid to dig into some of his more memorable partners like Ann Widdecombe or Judy Murray.

Bruno Tonioli

bruno tonioli dancing with the stars© Photo: Getty Images

Bruno Tonioli was a fan favourite ever since Strictly began in 2004. The lovable Italian has made audiences laugh, given his fair share of tens and, erm, made some racy comments along the way. The star ended up missing some shows of Strictly in his final years as a judge in the show due to his commitments on America's Dancing with the Stars. He didn't feature on the judging panel for the show's 19th series due to the pandemic, sharing some critiques from home, but these would be his final appearances before focusing on the US show.

But before joining Strictly, Bruno enjoyed a successful career as a dancer and choreographer, working with artists such as Tina Turner, Freddie Mercury, the Rolling Stones and Elton John. Fun fact: Bruno appeared as a dancer in the music video for Elton John's I'm Still Standing in 1983, and fellow Strictly judge Arlene Phillips was also on the credits.

Dame Darcey Bussell

Darcey Bussell© Photo: Getty Images

She's the prima ballerina who pirouetted into the ballroom to join the judging panel in 2012 for the show's tenth series. The former ballet dancer appeared as guest judge on Strictly in 2009 for series seven before joining the panel permanently three years later, replacing Alesha Dixon.

Darcey is known as one of Britain's greatest ballerinas and spent the majority of her career at the Royal Ballet as a principal dancer, a role which she started at the age of 20.In 2019, Darcey announced that she was leaving the show as a judge after six years to focus on other commitments.

MORE: Strictly's Jayde Adams 'overwhelmed' by discussion of late sister on show

Len Goodman

len goodman dancing with the stars© Photo: Getty Images

Len Goodman earned his place on the Strictly Come Dancing panel as head judge after decades of experience in the dancing world as a professional, competition judge and coach. Len joined the panel when the BBC show started in 2004 and continued up until series fourteen in 2016, after which he announced he would be stepping down.

As well as delivering his best advice and hilarious one-liners on the BBC show, Len also became head judge on the American version, Dancing with the Stars, in 2005 when the show first aired and has been on the panel ever since. However, earlier this month the 78-year-old confirmed he would be retiring from the show, in order to spend more time with his family back in the UK.

Alesha Dixon

alesha dixon© Photo: Getty Images

Alesha Dixon became a judge on Strictly in 2009 for the show's seventh series. She took her seat on the judging panel next to Craig, Bruno and Len as a replacement for Arlene Phillips, but Alesha was no stranger to the BBC show.

In 2007, the pop star took part in the Latin and ballroom competition and made it all the way to the final, before lifting the iconic Glitterball trophy as champion alongside professional partner, Matthew Cutler. Before her Strictly career, Alesha was one third of R&B/garage band Mis-Teeq, enjoying commercial success and a number of awards before launching a solo career.

Arlene Phillips

Atlene Phillips© Photo: Getty Images

Arlene Phillips joined Craig, Bruno and Len on the panel for the first series of Strictly Come Dancing in 2004 and was a judge for six series. After the 2008 show concluded, it was announced that Arlene was not returning to the Strictly panel with the role going to former champion, Alesha Dixon.

Before Strictly fame, Arlene was an esteemed West End and commercial music video choreographer, whose work includes Saturday Night Fever, Annie and the Starlight Express. But Arlene's judging days were not over after Strictly – she went onto become a judge on fellow dancing show, So You Think You Can Dance UK, for both the 2010 and 2011 series.

Cynthia Erivo

Cynthia Erivo© Photo: BBC

Cynthia is just one of many guest judges who have joined the Strictly panel, filling in for Craig Revel Horwood and Motsi Mabuse during the show's 19th series when both had to isolate on separate weeks after either testing positive or being in close contact with someone who had coronavirus.

Cynthia made her first judging appearance during Strictly's annual Musicals Week, which is fitting given the stars theatre background, including the leading role of Celie in The Color Purple.

Alfonso Ribeiro

Alfonso Ribeiro© Photo: Alamy

From Bel-Air to the BBC ballroom, Alfonso Ribeiro was announced as a guest judge for the 2018 and 2019 series of Strictly Come Dancing, sitting in for Bruno. The actor played Carlton Banks in cult 90s TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and was known for his signature move, "The Carlton".

And Alfonso is no stranger to dancing. The actor earned his stripes in ballroom and Latin after competing in and winning the American version of the show, Dancing with the Stars, in 2014.

Donny Osmond

Donny Osmond© Photo: Getty Images

Actor, singer and American teen idol Donny Osmond appeared on series 12 of the BBC ballroom show in 2014, sitting alongside Len, Darcey, Craig and Bruno, and was known for handing out 'Donny Osmond' tens.

The entertainer has been in the showbiz industry since his early years, rising to fame in The Osmonds, alongside four of his siblings, before going on to enjoy a successful solo music, film and television career. Donny is another Dancing with the Stars champion, winning the ninth series in 2009 alongside pro partner Kym Johnson.

Jennifer Grey

jennifer grey© Photo: Getty Images

Yes, that's right (we forgot too!). Baby herself, Jennifer Grey, was most definitely not put in the corner during her appearance on the Strictly Come Dancing panel in 2011. The Dirty Dancing actress stood in for head judge Len Goodman in week six of series nine back in 2011, and offered her best advice to the hopeful celebrity contestants.

Like Donny and Alfonso, Jennifer was fully qualified for the position after winning Dancing with the Stars the previous year. During her time as a contestant, Jennifer earned top marks, including many nine and ten scores for her cha-cha-cha, quickstep and rumba. Go Jennifer!

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