Home > Categories > Society, Culture, & Scholarship > Broadcasters > Dame Arlene Phillips's Biography

Dame Arlene Phillips's Biography

Browse biogs A-Z
Arlene Phillips was brought up in Manchester. Her father was a barber.

Arlene Phillips used to be a dancer but came to prominence as the choreographer of the raunchy Hot Gossip troupe featured on The Kenny Everett Show.

Her big breakthrough came when after studying dance in Manchester she came to London and got a job babysitting for the director Ridley Scott, who asked her to choreograph on some of his ads.

Arlene Phillips went on to choreograph numerous videos, commercials, films and musicals including Saturday Night Fever, which she also directed.

Saturday Night Fever attracted a lot of praise. "Arlene Phillips's often powerful choreography", said The Guardian; "Arlene Phillips's exuberant choreography" said The Telegraph.

The Telegraph added:

"Phillips, best known for her work with Hot Gossip, has always been a disco queen, but she also brings an awareness of classical ballet to her dance routines, which feature a superbly drilled ensemble and principals who perform spectacular spins, lifts and dives clad in an assortment of retina-bruising man-made fabrics."

Other acclaimed choreography by Arlene Phillips and examples that demonstrate her range are the musical Grease, the concert tour of The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and assisting David Zolkwer, artistic director of the opening and closing ceremonies at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

Arlene Phillips is well known to the British public as one of the judges on Just The Two Of Us, Strictly Dance Fever and Strictly Come Dancing.

Arlene Phillips was awarded an OBE in 2001.

On 25 August 2007, Arlene's team lost to Bruno Tonioli's team in Dance X.

In 2008, Arlene Phillips devised and choreographed the ITV1 musical drama, Britannia High.

In 2009, the BBC announced that Arlene was stepping down from the panel of judges on Strictly Come Dancing, but would appear on The One Show as the Strictly Come Dancing expert.

More than 4,000 people complained when the BBC dropped Arlene Phillips from Strictly Come Dancing.

On 14 September 2009, the BBC announced that Arlene Phillips would be on the judging panel of So You Think You Can Dance in the UK.

Arlene Phillips's other roles include being a member of the government's Dance Champions Group, and in November 2009 she revealed that she was to become a director of Sadler's Wells theatre.

In July 2017, Arlene Phillips arranged a dance gala to raise funds for those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

In June 2021, she became a dame for services to dance and charity.

In November 2021, she became one of the contestants on I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.

In 2023, she was given the Special Award at the Olivier Awards.

The following year at the Olivier Awards, she was awarded best theatre choreographer with James Cousins for Guys & Dolls.

Back to Top

Latest User CommentsAdd your comment
Add your comment
To ensure you are a real person and not a computer please enter the following characters shown below: