The 'Strictly Come Dancing' judges allegedly told bosses to get rid of Brendan Cole otherwise they'll walk.

Brendan Cole

Brendan Cole

The nation was thrown into shock earlier this week when the 41-year-old professional dancer announced that he'd been given the boot from this year's line-up after 14 years on the show, but it's believed it was the panel - comprised of Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell, Bruno Tonoili and new head judge Shirley Ballas - who forced bosses to drop him from the forthcoming show after their on-air spat with him last year.

A source told The Sun Online: "It was the final nail in his coffin.

"That was the moment when they decided they'd had enough. The judges felt he was putting her down publicly and he thought he knew better than the head judge. They thought it was totally disrespectful."

Brendan - who is known to use his acid tongue - got into a war of words with Shirley last year after she accused him of putting rise and fall into his Tango, which he performed with Charlotte Hawkins, but things got a little more heated when he shot down her comment and Bruno accused him of being "disrespectful."

An insider explained: "He sulked rather than apologised after the show.

"Everyone told him 'Don't bite the hand that feeds you'. But his stubbornness got the better of him.

"The judges and show bosses had to put up with a lot over the years, but doing it to Shirley was a step too far. It was after that moment that the judges said: 'Off with his head' They told bosses - it's him or the show. They had simply had enough. And Brendan was the last to know."

It's believed Brendan took a disliking to Shirley, 57, almost immediately because she was made head judge - a role he went for last year - after Len Goodman quit the show after 12 years on the panel.

The source said: "He went for the role of judge but Shirley got it.

"He never gave her a chance. He referred to her as Queen Shirley."

Since it was announced he wouldn't be returning to the ballroom and latin competition this year, fans have started an online petition in a bid to persuade the BBC to overturn their decision and give him his job back.