It has been confirmed that current Strictly Come Dancing champion Joanne Clifton will be leaving the show. The professional dancer, who lifted the famous glitterball trophy with TV presenter Ore Oduba in December, is quitting the series to focus on musical theatre. It has also been announced that fellow dancer Oksana Platero - who was partnered up with Judge Rinder - is also leaving the show, as well as Natalie Lowe, who announced her departure last month.
Joanne Clifton has quit Strictly Come Dancing
Three new professional female dancers have been unveiled; Dianne Buswell from Australia, Nadiya Bychkova from Ukraine and Amy Dowden from Wales. The newcomers 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, Aljaž Škorjanec and Giovanni Pernice; alongside female dancers Karen Clifton, Chloe Hewitt, Katya Jones, Janette Manrara and Oti Mabuse.
Joanne, 33, told the BBC that she is "sad" to leave her Strictly "family" behind. "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." The official Strictly Twitter account also posted: "We say goodbye to @RealNatalieLowe, @joanneclifton & @OksanaDmytrenko who are leaving #Strictly. We wish them all the luck in the world!"