Page last updated at 08:43 GMT, Tuesday, 4 August 2009 09:43 UK

BBC denies Strictly ageism claim

Karen Hardy and Gary Rhodes
Last year Karen Hardy was teamed with Gary Rhodes

The BBC says its decision to change dancer Karen Hardy's role on Strictly Come Dancing has "absolutely nothing to do with age".

Recent reports claimed the 39-year-old was being replaced by younger dancers.

The BBC said it was a "mutual decision" to end Hardy's tenure as a dancer. The star said she was "discussing new ways" to be part of the show.

The Latin American specialist won the fourth series of Strictly with cricketer Mark Ramprakash in 2006.

In a statement, Hardy said she was also looking at "a number of exciting projects and opportunities that have come my way".

'Change of flavour'

The BBC added: "She's been a fantastic dancer on Strictly for the past four years and we are in discussions with her as to what her new role will be in this year's series."

It is thought her new role could involve working on the spin off BBC Two show, It Takes Two.

The announcement comes shortly after the BBC said Arlene Phillips, 66, would be moved from the judging panel in favour of former winner and pop star Alesha Dixon, 30.

When the new series starts, Phillips will become the Strictly Come Dancing expert on The One Show.

Speaking about the departure at the time, BBC One controller Jay Hunt said there had been a desire to "change the flavour of the panel".

Len Goodman, 65, and Bruno Tonioli, 53, and Craig Revel Horwood, 44 are all set to return to the show when it starts this autumn.



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