Arlene Phillips says returning to 'Strictly Come Dancing' nine years after being axed from the judging panel is "hard".

Arlene Phillips

Arlene Phillips

The 75-year-old choreographer was a judge on the BBC ballroom show for the first six series until she was sacked in 2009 and replaced with Alesha Dixon, 40, causing an ageism row, and now the star is returning this weekend to the dance competition because it's where her "heart lies".

Speaking to The Sun newspaper, Arlene said: "I did this because this is where my heart lies. I didn't do this about resolving anything with 'Strictly'.

"Was it hard for me to say yes? I've got to tell you, it was really hard. I'm not sure because I am supposed to be at an event anyway that day.

"But I am not sure, at the moment I haven't replaced myself. So of course it would be very emotional to be there in the studio."

The star is choreographing her own routine for Sunday night's show (25.11.18) to David Bowie's hit 'Life On Mars', and it is set to feature ten Candoco dancers alongside several eliminated 'Strictly' professionals, including Janette Manrara, 35, and 28-year-old Gorka Marquez.

Arlene was devastated when she was axed from the popular dancing competition and replaced with the 'Britain's Got Talent' judge, and the panel revamp sparked debate everywhere as the BBC received 951 complaints about its decision to replace her.

It was even discussed in the House of Commons by the Minister for Women Harriet Harman.

Speaking in an interview last year, Arlene said: "I've never really been given a real reason [as to why I was axed]. I don't think I will ever know the answer."