Former International Latin American Dance champion Shirley Ballas has emerged as a front runner to sit on the panel of the BBC ballroom competition, after wowing bosses at her screen test.
Others who auditioned are said to have included former pro Karen Hardy, Strictly’s current Head Choreographer Jason Gilkison - both of whom have been linked to the job before - as well as Ireland’s ‘Dancing With The Stars’ judges Loraine Barry and Brian Redman.
But while Shirley is seen as the current favourite, a source added to The Sun that “nothing has been signed off yet”, and BBC chiefs will have the final say on who will get the job.
British-born Shirley has previously made guest appearances on ‘Dancing With The Stars’ in the US, where her son Mark is one of the professional dancers.
She was also married to ballroom champ Corky Ballas, who later went on to have a relationship with former ‘Strictly’ pro Kristina Rhianoff.
Len announced he was stepping down prior to the start of the last series of ‘Strictly’, having been on the panel since it began in 2004.
However, it is currently unclear if the panel’s new recruit would end up being Head Judge, with previous reports claiming Darcey Bussell is in line to take up the job, after Craig Revel-Horwood and Bruno Tonioli ruled themselves out.
Speaking of having a new face joining them on the next series, she recently told the Sunday People: “It’s gone very quiet all of a sudden on the rumoured names front. I’m nervous – it’s a good nervous, not bad nerves – but, yeah, I’m getting excited.”
Former pro dancer and ‘It Takes Two’ regular Karen Hardy has made no secret of how much she wants to replace Len, claiming she wants to even up the gender balance on the panel.
‘Strictly Come Dancing’ returns to BBC One in the autumn.