Page last updated at 08:49 GMT, Thursday, 18 June 2009 09:49 UK

Judge's Strictly exit unconfirmed

Arlene Phillips
Phillips drew criticism for her treatment of 2008 contestant John Sergeant

The BBC has refused to confirm press reports that Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips is leaving the hit Saturday night dance show.

The Sun newspaper claimed the 66-year-old choreographer would be replaced by singer and 2007 winner Alesha Dixon.

A BBC spokeswoman said the newspaper reports were "purely speculation".

"We can't confirm anything about the new series of Strictly yet, but we are always looking at ways to maximise viewers' enjoyment of our shows."

Dixon is reportedly being lined up to join panellists Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli and Len Goodman, amid suggestions that BBC bosses are looking to attract a younger audience.

"There is always speculation," Dixon, 30, told Sky News.

Alesha Dixon
Dixon won the dance contest in 2007 with partner Matthew Cutler

"Two months ago they were reporting that I was going to take over from Brucie," she said, referring to the show's 81-year-old host Bruce Forsyth.

"But once you are part of Strictly Come Dancing, you are part of the family and I do feel that about the show.

"If it wasn't for Strictly I wouldn't be here because it really has changed my life," she added.

The BBC dance show reaches its seventh series this autumn, and has proved a popular draw among Saturday night viewers.

However, the show faces stiff competition from ITV1's X Factor, which is typically favoured by younger viewers.

Phillips is a renowned theatre choreographer and has worked on numerous West End productions, films and pop videos. She was also responsible for 1970s dance troupe Hot Gossip.

In 2007, she devised and collaborated on the BBC talent show Dance X with fellow Strictly judge Bruno Tonioli.

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