Karen Hardy's Strictly Come Dancing 'trial-run'
'Strictly Come Dancing' bosses are using Karen Hardy's position as judge on the tour as a "trial-run" for Len Goodman's role.
The 46-year-old professional ballroom dancer was confirmed as a panellist for the upcoming live arena event on Tuesday (20.09.16), and producers are said to be keen to see if she's got what it takes to replace the outgoing judge on the TV series.
An insider said: "This is a huge statement in favour of Karen. The tour is massive and she will be in front of thousands of people giving her opinion.
"Len and Craig will be with her and she obviously knows what she's talking about with her career as a dancer.
"The producers want to use this as a trial-run and will give her tips to see if she can handle the role."
'Strictly' professional Anton du Beke, 50, has been the favourite to take over from Len, 72 - who is leaving at the end of the series after 12 years - but Karen's appointment as a judge on the tour appears to have dented his chances of landing the coveted role.
The insider added to The Sun newspaper: "It's now not looking food for Anton, but no final decision has been made yet on who will be Len's replacement."
This comes after Anton's fellow professional dancer Trent Whiddon insisted it was a "done deal" that his co-star will get the job.
He said: "It isn't official yet, but it may as well be - it's long been virtually guaranteed that Anton will fill any gaps on the judging panel.
"He's such a big part of the family and viewers love him, so BBC bosses know there's no risk of it not working out. The time is right and it's a done deal."
A BBC spokesman said: "We are focusing on making Len's last series the best yet."