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Darcey Bussel to join Strictly Come Dancing panel

Former ballerina Darcey Bussell Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The former star of the Royal Ballet, Darcey Bussell, is poised to sign as a new judge for BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing.

The ex-prime ballerina is being lined up as the replacement for Alesha Dixon, who quit the show earlier this year after being lured by Simon Cowell to join the panel of ITV's Britain's Got Talent.

Bussell said today:

I had such a lovely experience in 2009, when I was a guest judge, that coming on board now feels very natural. Strictly combines quality dance and great entertainment, which is such a positive for everybody involved. I am very excited and really looking forward to being part of the Strictly team.

Bussell, 42, was the best-known face in ballet for many years and has previously been a guest panellist on Strictly. In 2009, she even took to the dance floor to perform a jive on Strictly.

A BBC source confirmed they were in advanced negotiations with the star and she is expected to sign a deal shortly.

Darcey Bussell (left) and Alesha Dixon Credit: BBC/PA Wire

Bussell is also well-known to young fans through her series of children's books, The Magic Ballerina.

She retired from ballet five years ago with a performance at the Royal Opera House broadcast live on BBC2.

But she has continued to perform, notably with her theatre tour alongside singer Katherine Jenkins, Viva La Diva. She is expected to be joined by regular judges Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood and Len Goodman.

The new position will involve her temporarily relocating from her home in Sydney, Australia.

BBC1 controller Danny Cohen said:

I can think of no one better to join our Strictly judging panel than Darcey, the UK's queen of ballet. Darcey has all the poise and glamour along with the experience and credentials to deliver meaningful and insightful critiques of our couples' performances.