Belfast Telegraph

Strictly quartet to leave programme

Four of Strictly Come Dancing's professional dancers are leaving the programme, the BBC has confirmed.

One of them - Erin Boag - has been dancing with celebrity contestants on the show since it began in 2004. A BBC spokeswoman said Boag, along with Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone, were all leaving "to focus on their careers outside of Strictly and for professional reasons".

Former Strictly champion Aliona Vilani, who won in 2011 with McFly's Harry Judd, will not be returning for the next series either. She had not competed in the 2012 show due to injury, but no reason was given for her departure.

Boag, who has danced with Olympic medalist Colin Jackson and impressionist Rory Bremner, said: "After 10 wonderful years, and with a truly heavy heart, I have decided to decline the BBC's very kind offer to compete again in series 11, and have withdrawn from being a competitive dancer on Strictly Come Dancing.

"It's been so much fun making new friends, meeting wonderful people, and of course being partnered with such lovely celebrities year after year. I'm going to miss spending so much time with my amazing fellow professional dancers - it's true what they say, Strictly really is just like a great big family!

"It's been a very hard decision to make, but it's time for a change and to focus my attention on new challenges. That said, it's not necessarily farewell to Strictly, as I do hope to continue being a part of the show."

Boag said she would continue to dance with professional partner Anton du Beke, and told fans on her blog: "I'm certainly not hanging up my dancing shoes and retiring from the ballroom... far from it! I'm going to be doing more television work, choreography and teaching (news on that to follow!), and Anton and I will still be performing at shows and events across the country as usual.

Dance partners Cacace and Simone said they would take part in the show's Christmas special, also describing themselves as being "part of the family".

Cacace, who won last year's series with gymnast Louis Smith and is engaged to former Strictly contestant Jimi Mistry, said: "After an incredible and unforgettable 2012 on Strictly Come Dancing for both Vincent and I, we have decided we won't be partnering a celebrity on this year's show. However we look forward to continuing to perform on our favourite show and remain a part of the family including partnering a celebrity in the Christmas Special."

The dancer was named joint Rear of the Year with Simone last week and said at the time that the show was "kind of in our blood". Simone described it as "such a hard job", adding: "It's probably the hardest thing we have ever done in our career." The BBC said the pair would also perform tango routines on the 2013 series of Strictly, to be televised this autumn.

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