CHERYL is being hotly tipped to replace Bruno Tonioli on Strictly.
It comes after the BBC confirmed the judge has been left stranded in the US and will miss a lot of the new series.
The flamboyant Italian, 64, will miss more than half of this year’s show and will instead appear via video-link on Sunday night results show only.
BBC bosses said that Bruno will also only feature in person for the tail-end of the series because of a clash with Dancing With The Stars in America.
But it now looks like all might not be lost, as Bruno's top pick for his replacement is being backed to take his place.
In June we told how Bruno gave former Girls Aloud singer Cheryl, 36, his blessing to replace him on the BBC1 show if travel restrictions meant he could not film.
Now the bookies also say that Cheryl is the favourite to fill Bruno's seat.
Cheryl is odds-on at 1-2 to be a judge on Strictly this year, according to bookmaker Coral.
Close behind is Len Goodman at 2-1, Anton Du Beke at 5-2 and James Jordan at 4-1.
Coral's John Hill said: "Following the news that Bruno has confirmed that he will not be able to make the show this year, Cheryl is now odds-on in our betting to replace the judge on the panel in 2020
"Len Goodman is next best in the betting to make a return to the show just for this year in what would be a smooth replacement given his experience in the seat," added Hill."
Cheryl has proved that she can do it after being a judge on BBC show The Greatest Dancer.
This would thrill Bruno, as he previously told The Sun: “If Cheryl does end up doing it there would be nothing wrong with that. She’s a lovely girl. I like her.
“Of course she’s not me, but we’re all different. We all have different things to offer but I’ve heard nothing concrete.”
Meanwheile Bruno hopes to make at least the final four episodes – including the final and the semi final – if coronavirus travel restrictions allow him.
But if he is forced to quarantine on his return to the UK, then he will only make the last two.
It comes after the long-serving judge – who has spent the last 15 years commuting between homes in Los Angeles and London to appear on Strictly – told The Sun it would be “impossible” for him to take part, giving Cheryl Tweedy his blessing to replace him.
Bruno said: “I absolutely adore being part of Strictly and can’t wait to see what incredible dancing this year has in store!
“Lockdown has resulted in me being in LA for the foreseeable, but I’m excited to be involved as much as I possibly can. There was no cha-cha-chance I’d miss out!”
The juggernaut’s show executive producer Sarah James added: “I’m overjoyed that we’ve found a way for Bruno to be part of this year’s Strictly. His passion and enthusiasm are such a big part of the show, I’m thrilled we can continue to deliver that to audiences this year.”
Bruno has appeared on both Strictly Come Dancing and the show’s US version since they launched in 2005. In both of the last two series of Strictly, he was replaced by Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star Alfonso Ribeiro for Week Five due to clashes in filming.
He said: “For years and years I’ve spent two days of each week on the plane flying between London and LA.
“I leave America on Wednesday and come back every Sunday but now it’s impossible and, because of the current travel restrictions, it’s beyond my control.”
This year’s Strictly is being pushed back to October with fewer episodes because of a tighter filming schedule due to the coronavirus. There will be just nine episodes in total, and will end just days before Christmas.
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