Olympic hunk Louis Smith muscles in on Strictly Come Dancing

Olympic hunk Louis Smith muscles in on Strictly Come Dancing

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UPDATED:

08:58 GMT, 31 August 2012

Olympic gymnastics silver medallist Louis Smith is in negotiations to join this year’s series of Strictly Come Dancing.

The show is desperate to find a young hunk to try to replicate the success of McFly drummer Harry Judd, who won last year.

Louis, 23, is expected be in the line-up when it’s announced next Friday. He is an aspiring singer and failed an audition for The X Factor, Strictly’s main rival.

Talented: Olympic gymnastics silver medallist Louis Smith, pictured on the pommel horse, is also an aspiring singer

Talented: Olympic gymnastics silver medallist Louis Smith, pictured on the pommel horse, is also an aspiring singer

My Strictly source reveals: ‘Harry was such a success we want to book someone with the muscles to match. The fact Louis is an Olympic medal winner makes it even better.’

Louis and former Westlife star Nicky /08/31/article-2196103-145EC830000005DC-611_468x312.jpg” width=”468″ height=”312″ alt=”Contender: Victoria Pendleton, pictured with her gold medal after winning the Women's Keirin at the Olympics, could also appear on the show” class=”blkBorder” />

Contender: Victoria Pendleton, pictured with her gold medal after winning the Women's Keirin at the Olympics, could also appear on the show

Veteran TV presenters Sian Williams and Fern Britton should be popular, while Great British Bake Off judge Paul Hollywood and EastEnders star Sid Owen could prove to be the surprise packages.

Meanwhile, I’m told Strictly’s new bosses are planning to bring back the Sunday night dance-off that gives the judges the power to decide which celebrity leaves the competition. The new series begins on September 15.

Kirsty's grilling riles C4 chief

The great and the good headed to Edinburgh last week for the annual TV festival, where channel bosses proved to be as precious as the stars of their shows.

Channel 4’s chief creative officer Jay Hunt, a former controller of BBC1, was said to be furious at tricky questions posed by Kirsty Young during a public discussion.

Probing: Desert Island Discs presenter Kirsty Young asked Channel 4's chief creative officer Jay Hunt some tricky questions

Probing: Desert Island Discs presenter Kirsty Young asked Channel 4's chief creative officer Jay Hunt some tricky questions

The Desert Island Discs presenter probed Hunt over her controversial series such as Phone Sex Secrets, Drugs Live and The Undateables.

My source discloses: ‘She was so furious at being put on the spot by a tough interviewer that she didn’t want to allow the session to be screened online afterwards.’

C4 tells me: ‘We felt the questions weren’t balanced.’

Groups get Gary's vote of approval

In recent years, X Factor judges have created pop bands — including One Direction and Little Mix — out of rejected solo singers to boost the usually weak groups category on the show.

Popular pop band: Little Mix, from left to right, Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirlwal, were discovered on X Factor

Popular pop band: Little Mix, from left to right, Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirlwal, were discovered on X Factor

But chief judge Gary Barlow says that
may not be necessary this year after a number of outstanding bands
auditioned, even though they haven’t been televised yet on the ITV show.

Lesley Nicol, who plays Mrs Patmore the cook in Downton, has been signed for a Chicago stage production

Lesley Nicol, who plays Mrs Patmore the cook in Downton, has been signed for a Chicago stage production

‘I don’t know if we’ll have to put our own groups together this year,’ he tells me.

‘The standards of the ones I’ve seen so far have been surprisingly high.

'I’m very impressed and wouldn’t mind mentoring the groups this year.’

While Downton Abbey’s younger stars are being snapped up to appear in Hollywood films, more mature cast members are also attracting interest from America.

Lesley Nicol — Mrs Patmore the cook — has been signed for a Chicago theatre production about the late British pianist Dame Myra Hess, which has been written by the musician’s great-nephew, Nigel.

Lesley, 59, reveals: ‘I know the only reason I’ve been asked to do it is because Downton is so big in America.

'It wouldn’t have happened if they didn’t know who I was.’