Strictly Come Dancing star Brendan Cole axed after 13 years on show

Brendan Cole, dropped from Strictly Come Dancing after 14 years. Picture: SHANE FINN

Brendan Cole, dropped from Strictly Come Dancing after 14 years. Picture: SHANE FINN - Credit: Archant

This time last year, Strictly Come Dancing favourite Brendan Cole and I were talking about him replacing outgoing judge Len Goodman. Today he revealed the BBC hasn’t renewed his contract for the next series.

Brendan Cole, who's been part of the show since the start, said he was in shock and disappointed at

Brendan Cole, who's been part of the show since the start, said he was in shock and disappointed at the decision. PictureL MATT CROSSICK/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

The New Zealand-born dancer has been a part of the show since 2004 and was one of only two remaining original professionals.

Back in 2012, he told me: “Each year when you’re in it you think ‘I can’t do this again, I’m getting too b****y old’. Then at the end of it you go ‘I can’t imagine not being there’. One day they’re going to change the furniture and I’ll be with it. I’m hoping it’s not going to be any time soon.”

This morning an emotional Cole told ITV’s Lorraine: “It’s very hard to talk about... I’m a little bit in shock at the moment. I have had 15 incredible series on the show, I’m very proud of the whole show. I’m very disappointed... I have literally just told the pros about 10 minutes ago.

“I’m a fan, I love the show, the show comes first. I will still watch it. I’m a strong character in the show... I had my strong views... they won’t have that anymore, nobody will argue with the judges.”

We joked in 2012 how he’d calmed down from those early shows. He’d put it down to being happily married, enjoying who he was and the success of his first tour.

“When you’re young and wanting to do something creatively, to be the best you can be, to be successful, you’re driven for those results. If they’re not coming as fast as you want them you tend to be a bit more aggressive and a little bit more wanting.

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“I think once you sit back and realise ‘actually, I’m doing b****y well, I’ve got a great career, I love what I do’... I don’t know I’m just very happy. Maybe I’m just a bit older and a bit wiser.”

The fiery Brendan, who said he found out his contract wasn’t being renewed via a phone call, has returned over the last few series.

He clashed with new head judge Shirley Ballas, who he said was his “colleague” not his “superior”. He’s previously said he thought the professional dancers in the last series were “not allowed to have an opinion on anything”.

Speaking to Lorraine today he said he hadn’t really made much of a noise on the show with his partners the last five years.

“They haven’t been able to do what I’ve wanted to do. No disrespect to them. I haven’t had one of the ones that had a bit of dance experience that you can really challenge.”

When I asked him recently what he’d change about the Saturday night juggernaut, he said he’d simplify the format; giving the celebrities more rehearsal time with their pro partners.

“I think it gets too much with all the pro numbers we do and what’s expected of everybody... I’d take some of the elements out, make it a bit more basic but that’s all... it would make for better output.”

I thought the switch to judging would have suited Brendan. Former Strictly pro dancer James Jordan - forced to postpone his and wife Ola Jordan’s visit to Ipswich due to injury - agreed.“Len is irreplaceable, that’s very important to know about this gig. I’d be honoured to be considered to take his place and I’d love the role, I won’t lie about it; it’s a massive role on the show,” Brendan told me last year.

“I think I’m the right person for the job. Whether the BBC does or not is a different story.”

Talking to Lorraine, he said he asked himself every year if he wanted to do another series.

“Every year I’ve gone ‘I love the show too much’. I love the fact I’ve been there from the start. I feel like I’ve made a massive difference to the show and to the show that it is today,” said the dancer, who performed twice at the Norwich Theatre Royal on Sunday and visits the Ipswich Regent on February 17.

He said the BBC’s decision was an editorial one.

“I’ve always known this day will come... I would have preferred to have made the decision myself.”

A BBC spokesman thanked Brendan - winner of the first series - for being part of the show since the start and for the contribution he has made to its success. Adding: “We wish him all the very best for the future.”