Too old for TV Not me, says Arlene Phillips
She’s the subject of intense speculation about a potential return to Strictly Come Dancing, with thousands of loyal viewers calling for her to be reinstated as a judge.
But Arlene Phillips has had no talks with BBC bosses, who were blasted for ageism when they axed her in 2009. And she insists she won’t campaign for the job.
In her first interview since Alesha Dixon defected from Strictly to ITV rival Britain’s Got Talent, Arlene tells me: ‘I’ve tried to put everything from Strictly aside and move on with my life. I’m content with doing what I’m doing. I don’t need it any more.
Speculation: Arlene Phillips has had no contact with BBC bosses regarding a return to Strictly Come Dancing since Alesha Dixon's departure
‘But one thing I will say is that I think people like me as a judge because I can be sharp, but I can also be loving. Above all, I’m fair and knowledgeable.’
My Strictly insiders tell me no discussions have taken place with any potential replacements for Miss Dixon because a new boss for the show is still being sought following executive producer Moira Ross’s move to new BBC1 talent show The Voice.
Arlene, who is producing West End show Midnight Tango, starring Strictly professionals Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace, hasn’t worked out what her answer would be if a phone call does come from Strictly bosses.
‘I haven’t thought about it, When I walked away from Strictly, I decided to start living on what is here and what is now,’ she says.
Brucie bonus: The TV presenter says she has no plans to retire and wants to emulate Bruce Forsyth's longevity
‘There’s nothing else on the agenda for me other than taking things as they come.’
And if the BBC chooses someone else for the role Arlene replies: ‘I’m absolutely happy with whatever they want to do.’
The 68-year-old has no plans to retire from TV, saying: ‘I haven’t even thought about slowing down. I want to be dancing on TV when I’m Bruce Forsyth’s age. I feel so completely accepted that my age doesn’t stand before me.’
She’s even launching a lingerie line with mail order company Marisota to prove you don’t need cosmetic surgery to work in showbusiness as an older woman.
‘People will wonder why I’m doing this, but it’s to show you don’t need implants to be on TV,’ she says.
Arlene has also been linked to the new Andrew Lloyd Webber talent show, Superstar, on ITV in the spring.
But she says: ‘I haven’t even discussed it with Andrew. I am talking to him about the stage productions of The Wizard Of Oz and Starlight Express, which we want to make lots of changes to.
‘Underneath all this, I’m a hard-working choreographer and that’s the only thing I need to do.’
Less viewers: It's been privately acknowledged that axing Jason Gardiner has led to a dip in Dancing On Ice viewing figures
Goodbye Mr Nasty. Hello nasty ratings. That’s the situation facing ITV’s Dancing On Ice after Sunday’s show dipped to 7.3 million viewers, the lowest-rated episode in its history.
My sources say it is being privately acknowledged that axing caustic judge Jason Gardiner was a ‘potentially catastrophic mistake’.
‘Dancing On Ice is a nice family show,’ says one insider. ‘But many people tuned in just to hear what outrageous insult Jason would throw at a hapless celebrity after their performance.
‘He was box office — and the ratings so far are proving that.’
Backstage at the NTAs
departed Coronation Street actress Katherine Kelly couldn’t pick up her
award because she was on stage in Oliver Goldsmith’s 18th-century
comedy She Stoops To Conquer at the National Theatre. Katherine (above)
found out she had won the highly sought-after gong for best serial actor
performance only after receiving a text message at the end of the show.
she was the star of BBC Breakfast. Then the surprise new face of
Channel 5 News. Now ITV wants to give a permanent role to freelance
Natasha Kaplinsky, who was hosted by channel chiefs in a private suite
at the O2 Arena during the National Television Awards. A source at ITV
says: ‘We want Natasha to become part of the ITV family on an exclusive
Michael McIntyre nearly didn’t make it to pick up his award after being
stuck in traffic — and later security guards initially refused to let
the BBC comedy star through the VIP entrance to the after party.
Party: Downton Abbey star Robert James-Collier, who plays Thomas
Party's over for the Downton stars
The Downton Abbey crowd, led by ITV Director of Television Peter Fincham, partied the night away following the show’s win for best drama.
Rob James-Collier, who plays gay footman Thomas, told me it will be their last chance to party before shooting the highly anticipated third series of the hit show. ‘We start filming next week and it runs through to August, but we’re all excited to get back,’ he said.
While Brendan Coyle, aka valet Mr Bates, revealed of the latest script: ‘Honestly, it’s so good that my mouth fell to the floor.’