The professional dancer and choreographer served as a judge from its BBC launch in 2004 to 2009, before being mercilessly dropped as the TV network looked to freshen up the panel by bringing in the younger Alesha Dixon.
But despite severing ties with the show 13-years ago, Dame Arlene, now 78, still mulls over the decision to let her go, and admits she was never given an explanation by her BBC employers.
Perplexed: Dame Arlene Phillips admits she still doesn’t know why she was axed from Strictly Come Dancing, despite leaving the show more than a decade ago
She told the Sunday Times: ‘I never really got an answer. They said, “You’re on a one-year contract and we can let you go.”
‘I could never say it was about my age. But I could not say exactly why I was let go because I never really had an answer.’
The veteran dancer insists she had no clue that her association with Strictly was over until she was approached by a radio station requesting an interview about her departure.
Dame Arlene was already in a vulnerable state following the recent death of her manager. Michael Summerton, and the unexpected news left her devastated.
Old times: The professional dancer and choreographer served as a judge from its BBC launch in 2004 to 2009, before being mercilessly dropped by the TV network
She explained: ‘I no longer had a place on Strictly, but no agent, no one to deal with it. It was a really awful moment.
‘I loved Strictly. I have no answers as to why and I wasn’t really strong enough to find the answers. You know, I didn’t have it inside me. It was so unexpected.
‘There was no warning, no discussion, nothing. There were never any conversations.’
Stunned: The veteran dancer insists she had no clue that her association with Strictly was over until she was approached by a radio station requesting an interview about her departure
Dame Arlene recently described The Wanted star Tom Parker as a “sweetheart”, as she extended her sympathy to his family following his death aged 33.
The singer died on March 30 surrounded by close friends and family, 17 months after announcing he had been diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, she said: He worked so hard, he was phenomenal.’
Dame Arlene worked with Parker on the set of Grease The Musical in London’s West End.
Tragic: Dame Arlene recently described The Wanted star Tom Parker as a “sweetheart”, following his death aged 33. The pair worked together on a touring production of Grease
Bolton-born Parker was cast as Danny Zuko in the musical’s UK tour in 2017, and Dame Arlene choreographed the show.
She recalled helping Parker after he told her he could not dance.
‘I first worked with him on Grease, where he had to do Born To Hand Jive, the biggest dance in the whole musical, and he said “No, I don’t dance”, and I said “Well you’re going to have to”.
‘He said “Well I’m strong”, and we had a wonderful partner working with him… and actually what happened, Tom Parker – who really couldn’t dance – I think has probably done the best Danny cha cha dance of anybody I have ever choreographed for.
Getting involved: Dame Arlene has thrown herself into numerous TV projects since leaving Strictly, but still reflects on her abrupt departure (pictured on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!)
‘He worked so hard, he was phenomenal. He absolutely loved performing and he seemed to be able to battle through anything and everything, and he cast it aside in a way that just shocked me.’
She also extended her sympathy to Parker’s widow Kelsey Parker, saying: ‘His absolutely beautiful wife Kelsey, to lose the dad of her children, her partner, so sweet and kind and loving, the two of them, it would touch your heart just to watch them together and the love for each other.
‘It’s a terrible, terrible loss.’
Originally posted 2022-04-25 15:26:36.