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Strictly champion quits show with new dancers set to join line-up


Winners: Joanne with Ore Oduba

Winners: Joanne with Ore Oduba

Winners: Joanne with Ore Oduba

Reigning Strictly Come Dancing champion Joanne Clifton is leaving the BBC show.

The professional dancer, who won the Glitterball trophy in 2016 with her celebrity partner Ore Oduba, said it had been a "tough decision".

"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," she said.

"It's been a tough decision, but I am looking forward to facing new challenges and focusing on my musical theatre career."

Clifton (33) will return to the Strictly ballroom one last time to perform the winners' routine at the start of the new series.

Strictly professional Oksana Platero is also leaving and Natalie Lowe left last month.

Platero, who was new to Strictly in 2016 when she was partnered with Judge Robert Rinder, said: "Last year was my first season and I had an unforgettable time working alongside such amazing dancers."

The trio will be replaced Australian dancer Dianne Buswell, Nadiya Bychkova from Ukraine and Amy Dowden from Wales when Strictly returns in September. Buswell, an Australian Open Champion, joins Strictly after appearing on Dancing With The Stars Australia.

Bychkova is a two-time World Champion in Ballroom and Latin '10' Dance.

Dowden, from Caerphilly in South Wales, began dancing at the age of eight and is the current British National Champion.

Belfast Telegraph