Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli is reportedly hoping to return to the UK later this year so he can film the show's Christmas special.

The longtime judge, 65, has given up his place on the panel after coronavirus travel restrictions meant he was unlikely to be able to travel back from the US to film the main show.

He had to sit out last year's run and take part via video link from America, and now it's been decided he will be replaced by pro dancer Anton Due Beke.

However, Bruno is reportedly hoping to be able to come back to Britain in the autumn at some point so he can take part in the Strictly Christmas special.

A source told The Sun : "Bruno’s genuinely devastated and is praying the restrictions will ease enough over the coming months to let him return for filming of the festive special, which usually takes place late in the autumn."

Bruno Tonioli is reportedly hoping to be back for the Christmas special (

Image:

PA)

Bruno is based in the US where he films the American version of Strictly, Dancing With The Stars.

He is usually able to fly back and forth while working on both shows, but it proved impossible last year with travel restrictions in place.

Yesterday, BBC bosses announced Anton would be taking Bruno's place for the next series, which airs later this year.

Anton previously filled in for judge Motsi Mabuse last year and proved popular with fans.

Anton filled in for judge Motsi Mabuse last year

He's made no secret of his desire to join the judging panel and said yesterday: "My loves I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to be stepping into Bruno’s brogues for the next series of Strictly.

"It’s a dream come true to be judging alongside the best of the best and I promise to be kinder to all the couples than any of them have ever been to me."

Bruno added in a statement: "Whilst I am gutted to not be on the show this year there is one person and one person only that could take my place - it’s just a shame they weren’t available... haha!

Bruno has been a fixture of Strictly since 2004 (

Image:

BBC/Guy Levy)

"Darlings I’m kidding, I’m kidding! Seriously though, I have to tell you, Anton IS Mr Strictly and if anybody is filling in for me, it has to be him. I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way and I am so excited to see him waggle his paddle.”

Anton joins Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Shirley Ballas on the panel for the 2021 show.

The BBC said in a statement: "In addition to this tremendous trio, Strictly’s longest serving Professional Dancer Anton Du Beke will be taking up residency on the opposite side of the judges desk this year as he joins the judging panel for the entire series, following a two-week stint as judge during the 2020 series.

"Due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding international travel restrictions caused by Covid-19, Bruno Tonioli, who has been a fixture on Strictly since 2004 and is also a judge on Dancing With The Stars in the USA, will be unable to take part in the series this year."