A trio of professional dancers have left Strictly Come Dancing, the BBC has confirmed.
Joanne Clifton and Oksana Platero are leaving the series, along with Natalie Lowe who previously announced she was not returning. Strictly today thanked them for their contribution to the show and wishes them all the very best for the future.
Joanne, the current Strictly champion, will return to the Strictly ballroom one last time. She will perform the winners’ routine with her celebrity partner Ore Oduba at the start of the new series.
She said: "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 added: “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.”
At the time of her announcement, Natalie said: “This was a very difficult decision for me not to accept the invitation to appear on this season of Strictly. It is with a very heavy heart that I have arrived at this decision. I’ll be forever grateful for the amazing time, opportunities and memories Strictly has created for me.
"My time on the programme has been everything that I dreamed it would be and more, from the friendships I developed, the amazing dances I was able to perform in and the experiences that Strictly provided me. It truly has been an incredible and extraordinary experience.”
The BBC today revealed three new girls who will be replacing the leaving pros.
The three new stunning professional dancers are all Champions from the Ballroom and Latin world; Dianne Buswell from Australia, Nadiya Bychkova from Ukraine and Amy Dowden from Wales. They will join Strictly Come Dancing when the award-winning entertainment series returns in September to BBC One.
Those returning to the Strictly dance floor once again are male dancers, Anton Du Beke, Brendan Cole, Kevin Clifton, Neil Jones, Pasha Kovalev, Gorka Marquez, Giovanni Pernice, AJ Pritchard and Aljaž Škorjanec; alongside female dancers Karen Clifton, Chloe Hewitt, Katya Jones, Oti Mabuse and Janette Manrara.
Strictly Come Dancing airs later this year on BBC One.