Is Scots un­known ready to waltz into Len’s seat?

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Xan­tha Leatham

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

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