'Strictly Come Dancing' bosses are on the hunt for younger professional female dancers.

Dianne Buswell was 14 years older than dance partner Bobby Brazier

Dianne Buswell was 14 years older than dance partner Bobby Brazier

The programme faced criticism this year after runner-up Bobby Brazer, 20, was paired with 34-year-old Dianne Buswell and with producers looking to appeal to a youthful audience with their choice of celebrity contestants, they are reportedly taking steps to shorten the age gaps with their partners.

A source told the Sunday Mirror newspaper: "Bosses are always keen to cast young celebs to appeal to a younger demographic.

"But Bobby and Dianne were subject to some quite nasty trolling and that's made them look again at the pro line-up.

"Currently the youngest female pro is Jowita Przystal, who will be 30 in September. On the male side, they have Nikita [Kuzmin], who - if he's back next year - is a good fit for a younger celebrity at 26.

"The thinking is now that they also need to have a younger female equivalent."

Meanwhile, Amy Dowden recently expressed her hope she will be back in the 'Strictly' pro line-up this year after being unable to take part last year because she was battling breast cancer.

Speaking on 'BBC Breakfast', she said: "This is the longest I've never danced for since May, so I need to get my body back into it.

"Obviously my body has been through so much with chemo so it's building up gradually, but I've missed it so much."

Amy - who was recently declared cancer free returned to the 'Strictly' studio last year to support her fellow pro dancers, but admitted it was "bittersweet" because she couldn't compete for the Glitterball Trophy herself.

She said: "I used to go and support them and it was bittersweet.

"I was supporting my best friends, but I didn’t want anything more than to be on that dancefloor. It was so cruel.

"So that’s the aim, is that they’ll have me back, to be back on that dancefloor with my best friends doing what I love most later this year."