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Strictly legend says BBC ‘never apologised’ for axing them-Ruth Lawes-Entertainment – Metro

She also had her own theory about her sacking.

Strictly legend says BBC ‘never apologised’ for axing them-Ruth Lawes-Entertainment – Metro

Dame Arlene Phillips was one of the original judges on Strictly Come Dancing (Picture: BBC Picture Archives)

Strictly Come Dancing star Dame Arlene Phillips has hit out at the BBC for its lack of apology over her shock exit.

The 80-year-old was a judge on the ballroom dancing show until 2008 before she was ‘uninvited’ to return by the broadcaster.

The decision sparked national outrage and the BBC was accused of ageism as it replaced Dame Arlene, who was 66 at the time, with then 30-year-old Alesha Dixon.

The BBC denied this, but the choreographer said she has still never received an apology from the broadcaster for how it dealt with her exit.

Dame Arlene claims she found out she had been sacked when a radio show contacted her comment, rather than from the broadcaster directly.

Speaking on podcast How to Fail with Elizabeth Day, Dame Arlene said she also never knew the reason behind her axing: ‘Certainly no one’s apologised.

However, she said she was later ‘uninvited’ to return on the show from the BBC (Picture: BBC)

Dame Arlene was instead replaced by the much younger Alesha (Picture: BBC)

‘We did go for meetings two [maybe] three weeks after, but it was just, “What can we offer you instead?” Nothing, at all about any reason.’

She continued: ‘I actually feel even to this day, I wish it had been discussed. I wish that they had come to me and said, “We’re not going to keep you on”, and what the reasons were, and then I could adjust myself to it.’

Offering her own opinion on the BBC’s decision, Dame Arlene said: ‘The truth is I just don’t think they thought I was good enough. That’s the truth about it.

‘That’s what really hurts because I felt like I was a good judge.’

The BBC was accused of ageism after Dame Arlene’s exit (Picture: BBC/Guy Levy)

Dame Arlene claimed she never received an apology from the BBC over how it handled her exit (Picture: BBC)

Dame Arlene, who appeared on the panel alongside Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood and the late Len Goodman, also claimed the judges were ‘positioned.’

She said her ‘role’ was the ‘harsh’ judge and to fit that image she claimed she was only allowed to wear black jackets.

The dancer said: ‘Certainly when Strictly began, I was positioned in this role of being the “Harsh, only allowed to wear black jackets” kind of judge.

She continued: ‘I pretty much only was allowed to wear black jackets. Yes. I had two posh ones, designer ones, and the rest came from Next or M&S.’

Dame Arlene said she was never given a reason for her sacking (Picture: Arlene Phillips/Instagram)

‘And you’re sort of positioned in this role. And believe me, Judging on Strictly is role-playing. It’s role-playing for everyone, it was and it always has been.’

When asked to respond by to Dame Arlene’s claims of a non-apology and the ‘positioning’ of judges, the BBC declined to comment.

Dame Arlene previously told she did not think her age was the reason for her sacking.

Speaking about the national conversation it sparked about ageism, she said: ‘I didn’t want anything… I said to myself “just try to put it aside. It’s only a job”.’

She said she wished the BBC had informed her – rather than finding out via a third party (Picture: Arlene Phillips/Instagram)

The hurt at what had happened came later, she says, and she only now allows herself to think ‘I didn’t deserve that… that wasn’t right. But in terms of age, I never thought it was that’.

Following her exit from Strictly, Dame Arlene went on to star in other dancing programmes, appearing on So You Think You Can Dance? and guest judging on Dancing On Ice a couple of months ago.

She also competed on I’m A Celebrity in 2021 and was the first campmate to be eliminated from the jungle.

Strictly Come Dancing is available to stream on BBC iPlayer.

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