Strictly Come Dancing: Will it be Kara Tointon or Karen Hardy in Alesha Dixon"s Strictly seat?


Youth or experience Will it be Kara Tointon or Karen Hardy in Alesha's Strictly seat

One's a professional dancer, while the other was an amateur who ended up a Strictly Come Dancing champion.

Following Alesha Dixon's shock announcement she was quitting Strictly Come Dancing to join the Britain's Got Talent panel, a host of female stars have been tipped to replace her.

And leading the favourites are 2010 winner Kara Tointon, 28, and the show's former professional Karen Hardy, 41.

Youth vs experience Actress Kara Tointon (left) and professional Karen Hardy (right) are favourites to join the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel

Youth vs experience Actress Kara Tointon (left) and professional Karen Hardy (right) are favourites to join the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel

Youth vs experience Actress Kara Tointon (left) and professional Karen Hardy (right) are favourites to join the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel

Former EastEnders actress Tointon, who won the show with her boyfriend Artem Chigvintsev in 2010, is favourite with bookmakers Ladbrokes to be appointed to the panel.

However, William Hill have retired ballroom dancer Hardy, as 4/6 favourite.

With Bruno Tonioli, Len Goodman and Craig Revel-Horwood remaining on the panel, there is a fourth place left for a lone female judge.

When news of pop star Dixon's departure broken on Monday afternoon, a string of MailOnline readers called for Hardy to be her replacement.

I'm off: Alesha Dixon is leaving Strictly Come Dancing after three years on the panel

I'm off: Alesha Dixon is leaving Strictly Come Dancing after three years on the panel

Although she left the show as one of the professionals in 2008, she is a regular guest on BBC2 spin-off show It Takes Two, giving commentary and critique of the performances.

Other names in the fray include last year's contestant Chelsee Healey, Polish professional Ola Jordan and Dirty Dancing actress Jennifer Grey – who was a guest judge last year and won Dancing With The Stars in the U.S.

However, a familiar face in the form of original judge Arlene Phillips has also been tipped to return with 6/1 odds by Ladbrokes.

The BBC were accused of ageism when Phillips was controversially dropped from the panel in favour of Dixon – who is 36 years younger.

Could Arlene Phillips return There is speculation the choreographer could rejoin the show

Could Arlene Phillips return There is speculation the choreographer could rejoin the show

However, with the new judging line-up for Strictly not expected to be announced until late spring or early summer, fans could be in for a wait to find out Dixon's replacement.

Former Mis-teeq singer Dixon stunned BBC executives yesterday morning by quitting the Corporation’s flagship Saturday evening programme.

Within hours, she was unveiled as a judge in the revamped BGT, which begins auditioning for contestants later this month.

Miss Dixon, 33, is said to be
receiving 350,000 for her new job – believed to be three times her
Strictly salary estimated at 100,000. Last night her manager Malcolm
Blair insisted she had not moved for money.

He said talks had been going on between ITV and Miss Dixon for the last ‘couple of weeks’.

However, he confirmed the BBC was made aware of her defection only yesterday morning.

Who will replace her Who will sit with Craig Revel Horwood, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli

Who will replace her Who will sit with Craig Revel Horwood, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli

'It
was never about the money,' he said. 'Alesha’s had three incredible
years on Strictly but there comes a time when you have to move on.'

ITV, though, is delighted with the 'coup'. One insider said: 'This is really good for BGT. Simon really wanted her on the show.'

A BBC executive, who learned of her exit only when told by the Mail, said he was surprised at the station’s decision.

Screen star: David Walliams will also be joining the BGT panel

Screen star: David Walliams will also be joining the BGT panel

He said: 'Alesha took a while to bed in at Strictly so I’m surprised ITV decided to book her.'

Another BBC insider said: 'Strictly is bigger than Alesha. We gave her her big break.'

Miss Dixon rose to fame in urban band Mis-Teeq, then won Strictly as a contestant in 2007 before becoming a judge on the show.

Last
night there were whispers she had quit because she wants to record an
album and promote it in the autumn, when Strictly is on. This latest job would allow her that opportunity.

Whatever her motivation, the signing and financial outlay mark a huge investment by ITV and Cowell.

Both BGT and The X Factor, Strictly’s big rival, were hit by reduced ratings last year.

The last series of BGT was the first in which Cowell was not a judge throughout the show, returning only for the live finals.

Two judges – former Baywatch star
David Hasselhoff and comedian Michael McIntyre – were hired to replace
Cowell and Piers Morgan, alongside Amanda Holden.

However, neither proved a success and left after just one series.

Miss
Dixon will join a returning Cowell, Miss Holden and comedian David
Walliams in the revamped line-up. Walliams is believed to be receiving
800,000 for his role.

As they were: Cowell and Amanda Holden will be back for the new series, but David Hasselhoff and Michael McIntyre will not

As they were: Cowell and Amanda Holden will be back for the new series, but David Hasselhoff and Michael McIntyre will not

Yesterday,
Miss Dixon said: ‘I am delighted to be joining the judging panel of
Britain’s Got Talent for 2012. It’s a fantastic show and I am very
excited to be working with Simon, David and Amanda on the search for a
new star.’

TODAY'S POLL

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Cowell
added: ‘I love Alesha. She is feisty, opinionated and knows what it’s
like to be both a competitor and judge on a hugely popular TV show.’

Cowell,
who has spent the past seven months in the U.S., insisted he was
returning to BGT because he missed ‘the British public’.

He
also revealed this year’s winner, as well as performing at the Royal
Variety Performance, would receive a prize of 500,000 – with him
putting up half the money.

In contrast, last year’s winner Jai McDowall received just 100,000.

Cowell, 52, said: ‘I miss Britain, and I miss the British public, and I miss judging them.’

Elaine
Bedell, ITV director of entertainment and comedy said: 'There’s no head
judge quite like Simon Cowell. And I’m delighted David and Alesha will
be joining Simon and Amanda on the panel.'

Triumph: Dixon and Matthew Cutler in the final of Strictly Come Dancing in 2007

Triumph: Dixon and Matthew Cutler in the final of Strictly Come Dancing in 2007

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