Arlene Phillips reveals she originally turned down Strictly Come Dancing three times

Arlene Phillips says she originally turned down Strictly Come Dancing three times.


Arlene was a judge on the show from its first series up until 2008 – but was almost never a part of the panel.

Speaking on the Celebrity Search Engine podcast this week, Arlene says she only said yes after making a pact with fellow judge Len Goodman.

Arlene shared: “I said no three times.

“So I went to do this pilot, and Len Goodman was there, there was another kind of judge stand-in person, and there were some of the dancers we know, Anton was there, Brendan was there…”

“It felt like chaos!”

She added: “Then Len turned to me and he said, ‘I don’t know about this, are you going to do it?’, and I said, ‘I don’t know, are you?’ and he said, ‘I’ll do it if you do it!’. And then we both agreed to do it!”


As well as choreography work on the West End and Broadway, Arlene has been behind some of the most famous music videos including Whitney Houston’s ‘How Will I Know’.

She reveals in the podcast: “Whitney, I did her second video which was ‘How Will I Know’, which was the first video where she had to kind of, move and dance in. And she was so shy, so uncomfortable in her physicality, worried about her feet looking too big, full of worries.

“And it was just a gentle easing into it and then, a few months later I went to New York to do ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ and there was a completely different Whitney!”


Arlene added: “It was like a lightbulb had ignited and she was ready to take on all the fame and the adulation and the adoration of people. It was lovely, a delightful experience.”

Celebrity Search Engine, hosted by Abbie McCarthy, releases new episodes every Wednesday. Produced by Create Podcasts.

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