Dame Darcey Bussell has said that her friends were somewhat peeved when she received her damehood because it ruined a long-standing in-joke.

The ballerina and Strictly Come Dancing judge was made a dame in the New Year honours list for her services to dance following a 30-year career. She was presented with her medal by the Queen at and investiture in May.

She has now revealed that her friends would affectionately call her “Dame Darcey” even before she was given the honour.

She told Hello! magazine: “They’d always say: ‘Dame Darcey coming in the room’, as a wind-up.

Dame Darcey Bussell Dame Darcey Bussell (Hello magazine)

“So it was funny when it became official as I received all these texts saying: ‘It’s just not fun any more’.

“I was like: ‘Sorry, I’ve ruined the joke’.”

The 49-year-old dancer also said she plans to “grow old gracefully”, adding that she will not get a “new face”.

“When you get older, you’re more confident, but you’re also ageing so people say: ‘Oh dear, it’s such a shame’,” she said.

“But you have to have an attitude. I’m going to grow old gracefully and sorry, I’m not going to change.”

Of this year’s Strictly contestants, which include former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts, Steps star Faye Tozer and Red Dwarf actor Danny John-Jules, Dame Darcey said: “This is probably the biggest pool of celebrities we’ve had who I think are going to be shockingly brilliant.

“And we have a handful of surprises. Kate Silverton has been behind a news desk, so who’d have known she’d be a natural performer?

“Another is Joe Sugg – he has such rhythm and flexibility.”

The full article is in Hello! magazine, out now.