Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell to leave BBC show after seven years

Dame Darcey Bussell will leave Strictly Come Dancing after seven years on the judging panel.

The former ballet dancer joined the BBC show on a permanent basis in 2012 as a replacement for Alesha Dixon but has now decided to step down.

She said: "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.

"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.

"I know I will miss being part of this unique show, and the fact that it celebrates dance is something I am so passionate about. I hope that I may be very lucky to be asked back again one day."

Strictly judges Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell, Shirley Ballas and Bruno Tonioli (left to right) Credit: PA

Charlotte Moore, director of BBC content, said: "It has been an absolute honour to have Darcey, a national treasure and British dance icon, bring her passion for dance and her graceful presence to the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel for seven consecutive years.

"She will be thoroughly missed by us all and will, of course, remain part of the Strictly family in the future."

Strictly presenter Claudia Winkleman tweeted: "We love you Darcey. You'll be so so missed. Xx."

Strictly professional dancer Oti Mabuse posted: "@DarceyOfficial you will always be loved and appreciated thank you for being so elegant,funny, positive and encouraging to us. We will never forget you and making personally 4 years a memorable journey #damedarcey @bbcstrictly."

Bussell has been described by her Strictly Come Dancing co-star Shirley Ballas as an "incredible friend" after announcing her departure from the show.

Head judge Ballas tweeted: "We've had the most laughs and fun times on the show. Today is certainly the end of an era.

"Thank you for holding my hand all the way and being such an incredible friend. You were my rock when I was new to the show and have always been so kind.

"I for one will dearly miss my partner in crime and our girly chats. It just won't be the same without you!"