Reigning champion of Strictly Come Dancing, Joanne Clifton, has quit the show. The announcement comes as the BBC announced the line-up of professionals for the 2017 series, airing later this year.
Clifton, sister of Kevin, who is also a professional dancer on the show, won the show in 2016 with partner, Ore Oduba.
She cited a desire to focus on her “musical theatre career” as her reason for leaving the show:
Being part of the Strictly experience has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me and I will miss the show so much. It’s been a tough decision but I am looking forward to facing new challenges and focusing on my musical theatre career.
Oksana Platero has also decided to leave the show. 2016 was her first year on Strictly, dancing with Judge Robert Rinder.
I just want to say thank you to everyone involved with Strictly. Last year was my first season and I had an unforgettable time working alongside such amazing dancers and an even better time with Judge Rinder. It was an opportunity of a lifetime and I will never forget it. Thank you so much for the memories.
Afer the departure of long-term professional, Natalie Lowe, at the end of last series, three new, female dancers have joined the show: Dianne Buswell from Australia, Ukraine’s Nadiya Bychkova, and Amy Dowden from Wales.
The full line-up of professionals is as follows:
Anton Du Beke, Brendan Cole, Kevin Clifton, Neil Jones, Pasha Kovalev, Gorka Marquez, Giovanni Pernice, AJ Pritchard, Aljaž Škorjanec, Karen Clifton, Chloe Hewitt, Katya Jones, Oti Mabuse, Janette Manrara, Dianne Buswell, Nadiya Bychkova, and Amy Dowden.