Former Strictly Come Dancing professional Joanne Clifton has said she knew she would quit the show as soon as she was crowned champion with celebrity partner Ore Oduba.
The world champion dancer announced she would not return for another series of the BBC hit show in June, just days before she revealed she would be starring in a new touring production of Flashdance – The Musical.
Clifton and presenter Oduba lifted the glitterball trophy in the Strictly Come Dancing final in December after beating rivals Louise Redknapp, who was partnered with Clifton’s brother Kevin, and Danny Mac, who was partnered with Oti Mabuse.
Clifton told the Press Association: “It was a tough decision but I’m the type of person when, as soon as I’ve done something, I want to move on to the next thing.
“Without sounding like a big head, when I won the worlds, on the podium I was like, ‘That’s it, I’m done, I want to do something else’, and I did Strictly and now I’ve won that.”
Clifton added that preparing to take on the role of Alex Owens – made famous in the 1983 film by Jennifer Beals – has been one of the biggest challenges of her career.
Speaking during a break in rehearsals, she said: “The show is really full on and of course I’m a dancer but I’ve never done this style of dancing before.
“I have bruises everywhere and blisters.”
“It feels slightly out of my comfort zone when I’m learning it, I’m a bit like, ‘Whoa’, but it’s going in.”
“The singing is really high and all my songs are really belt-y and up there right from the first one, and I’m not a trained singer so that is scary.”
Clifton added that preparing for the shows has been even more intense than preparing for the live episodes of Strictly Come Dancing.
“It is a new style so I have to really concentrate, whereas on Strictly I’m doing the routine and it’s a style I’ve done since I was four so I just have to teach it.”
The touring schedule will mean she will not be able to tune into the live shows when Strictly returns this autumn but Clifton said she will be tuning in on iPlayer.
She is particularly looking forward to seeing new judge Shirley Ballas, who will replace Len Goodman as the head of the panel.
She said: “She taught us as kids. I think she’s taught a lot of the pros.
“When she’s teaching competitors she is really tough, really tough, but I don’t know how she’s going to be with beginners.
“We have got Craig (Revel Horwood) as the bad one anyway, so I guess she’s going to tone it down a little bit, but she was tough with competitors.
“She’s perfect for the role, she knows her stuff, she’s a multiple-time world champion.”
Asked if she would ever return to the show as a judge herself, she said: “I would actually. I would probably be rather having a sit down (than being a professional).
“I wouldn’t mind that but I think I’m doing this now.”
Flashdance – The Musical begins at King’s Theatre, Glasgow on August 5 ahead of a nationwide tour to cities including Southampton, Liverpool, York and Birmingham.
Tickets are available at flashdanceuktour.co.uk