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Former Strictly Come Dancing professional Natalie Lowe, 39, who was a part of the line-up on the show for seven years, has said Cheryl, 37, isn’t experienced enough to be a judge on the panel amid claims she is set to replace Bruno Tonioli, 64, if he can’t return to the panel due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
The current judges on the show include head judge Shirley Ballas, Motsi Mabuse, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli, however the latter splits his schedule between London and America.
Cheryl is currently the bookies favourite to replace Bruno if he is unable to fly back to the UK due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
Addressing the rumour about Cheryl joining the panel, Natalie said: “[A] Strictly judge can’t be just anyone.
“You need someone compassionate, who can give constructive criticism, and someone who thoroughly understands the genre.
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“Cheryl is amazing, and she’s been on The Greatest Dancer and The X Factor. She’s an incredible dancer, too,” she added to Closer Magazine.
“But ballroom dancing is so nice – it’s so technical. I think someone with more in-depth knowledge would suit better.”
For the past 15 years, Bruno has been flying between his homes in London and Los Angeles to appear Strictly as well as America’s Dancing with the Stars.
He tends to take a week off each series to fulfil his commitments in the US and is usually replaced by another judge.
Bruno has said he would be more than happy for the former Girls Aloud star to take his place, if he can’t return to the show this year.
“If Cheryl does end up doing it there would be nothing wrong with that,” he told The Sun. “She’s a lovely girl. I like her.
“Of course she’s not me, but we’re all different. We all have different things to offer but I’ve heard nothing concrete.”
Despite this, a representative for Cheryl has said there has been no conversation about the singer joining the panel as a judge this series.
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A source has also told The Sun that Bruno will not be replaced at all if he can’t make it to the shows.
A show insider said “producers don’t want to take any chances” when it comes to coronavirus.
They told the Daily Star: “Travelling back and forth to the US isn’t likely to be possible this year.
The primary concern is that regular flights would put Bruno at risk of catching the virus.
“And on a logistical level he may need to quarantine every time he arrives back in Britain, which obviously isn’t viable if he needs to be back in the US just a few days later.
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Last week, a representative for Strictly Come Dancing confirmed the series will be returning, but will be shorter than usual.
A spokesperson said: “The Strictly Come Dancing team are doing everything they can to bring the nation plenty of Strictly magic later this year.
“To ensure we deliver the high standards audiences know and love, and in light of the ongoing considerations around COVID-19, this year’s series of Strictly will have a slightly shorter run than usual.
“The safety of our cast and crew is of the utmost importance to us and further updates will be made in due course.”
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