Is Scots unknown ready to waltz into Len’s seat?
A SCOTTISH judge on the Italian version of Strictly Come Dancing could replace Len Goodman on the UK show.
Carolyn Smith, who is well known in most Italian households, is in secret talks to take over when the 72-year-old host retires at the end of this series.
The 56-year-old is an accomplished dancer and was competing at world-class level at the age of 15.
She has battled aggressive breast cancer for the past two years but has now made a recovery and is ready to return home.
She said: ‘It’s looking positive and I’m ready to return. The Italian Strictly has the same rules and I’ve done 83 shows.
‘If I succeed in replacing Len, I can give a female point of view and on Strictly there are no other experts on ballroom dancing.
‘Why should it always be a man’s point of view? I still teach worldclass couples – something Len doesn’t do.’
Miss Smith, from Glasgow, is eager to reunite with former pupil Giovanni Pernice – partner to Laura Whitmore, who did not appear on last night’s show because of an ankle injury. She said: ‘I want to join Giovanni and some of my close friends who are teachers on UK Strictly.
‘It’s going to happen but right now I can’t say too much.
‘I have a fiery Scottish temperament and I’ve become known for my strong, constructive comments to VIPs.
‘With all my experience I can give more credibility to Strictly.’
The BBC announced in June that the next Strictly series would be Len Goodman’s last.
The ballroom dancer, who has led the judging panel since the programme started 12 years ago, said it was ‘time to hand over the role of head judge to someone else’.
There has been much speculation over his possible successors.
Ballroom dancing judge Gary Edwards has been tipped as the next person to join the show and is best known for his appearances on Dancing with the Stars: All Access – a spin-off show to the American version of Strictly.
Strictly dancer Brendan Cole was also rumoured to have his eye on the position. He has appeared on the show since it started and has been a judge on the New Zealand version of Dancing with the Stars.
Former judge Arlene Philips, who was on the panel from 2004 to 2008, could also make a comeback.
Miss Smith – married to Italian dancer Tino Michielotto – started dancing at the age of five and has said her mother enrolled her in classes in a bid to tire her out.
But the effort was in vain as her appetite for dancing was endless.
By 15 she was competing at an international level. Her first com- petition against other countries was at the 1976 European Championships in Turin, Italy, where she finished seventh.
Throughout her career she has danced in the Scottish Nationals, British Open and Closed Championships, World and European Championships and also became a Grand Slam finalist.
She stopped competing in 1982 when she moved to Italy to marry. She went on to become a dance teacher and to create her own line of clothing for dancing.
After separating from her first husband, she moved back to London and began to dance competitively once more, but was forced to quit owing to medical issues with her knees.
In 2007 she became a judge on Dancing with the Stars Italy – Ballando con le Stelle – the country’s version of Strictly Come Dancing.
She has also created a line of clothing for dogs.
‘Started dancing at the age of five’
Judge: Carolyn Smith