Express & Star

From the Strictly judging panel to Britain’s Got Talent: Who is Bruno Tonioli?

The flamboyant Italian was a judge on Strictly Come Dancing for 18 years.

Strictly Come Dancing Launch 2019 – London

Flamboyant Italian dancer and choreographer Bruno Tonioli has become renowned for his animated movements and charismatic on-screen presence.

The 67-year-old joined Strictly Come Dancing during its debut series in 2004, alongside original judges Dame Arlene Phillips, Len Goodman and Craig Revel Horwood.

During his 18 years on the BBC’s flagship show, he regularly shocked and delighted the nation with his witty jabs and theatrical moves.

He often left the rest of the judging panel and audience laughing hysterically when he would steal the show by falling off his chair in delight or shock at a performance – including in 2018 when he dramatically fell to the floor while Revel Horwood offered comments on Dr Ranj Singh and Janette Manrara’s quickstep.

Dozens of other stand-out moments include his cutting remarks about former MP Ann Widdecombe’s performance in 2010 in which he called her a “lame canary” who was “flapping around the floor” when she took to the stage in a bright yellow ballgown.

Similarly memorable moments were when he took a shine to certain contestants including McFly’s Harry Judd in 2011 and former Welsh rugby player Gavin Henson the year before, who gave a cheeky kiss to the Italian judge during one of his performances.

In 2020, pandemic travel uncertainty meant Tonioli could only appear via video-link to give his verdict on the Strictly performances and in 2021 he was temporarily replaced by long-standing professional dancer Anton Du Beke.

Tonioli has held a spot on the Dancing With The Stars panel since its launch in 2005, resulting in frequent flying back and forth between the UK and the US while both shows were running.

Announcing his permanent departure in May last year, Tonioli said that he would be concentrating on his other role which films around the same time of year in the US.

After announcing his Strictly exit, Tonioli told the Daily Mail: “I just couldn’t do the flying any more. I don’t know how I survived that schedule. To be honest, it’s a miracle.”

Last year, Tonioli and Revel Horwood swapped the dancefloor for the driving seat as the pair explored some of the UK in their six-part ITV series Craig And Bruno’s Great British Road Trips.

As the 2023 Britain’s Got Talent auditions kicked off, it was revealed that Tonioli would be swapping one judging panel for another and starring alongside Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon as a judge on the ITV talent competition.

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