karen clifton graeme swann

Karen Clifton returns to Strictly with new dance partner Graeme Swann

The Strictly tour is upon us!

Sharnaz Shahid

Karen Clifton is back with a bang! The professional dancer, who recently confirmed her romance with boyfriend David Webb, has returned to the Strictly Come Dancing dancefloor for the nationwide tour. Stepping in for fellow pro Oti Mabuse, the 36-year-old has been teamed up with cricketer Graeme Swann for the duration of the UK tour which kicks off in Birmingham on Friday. Over the past few days, Karen has been taking to Instagram to share snippets of the rehearsals - including a repost of Oti's sweet message. "Come on guys, let's get behind @officialgraemeswann and @karencliftonofficial.

Karen Clifton is dancing with Graeme Swann on the Strictly tour

Sharing a picture of the pair, Karen wrote: "Ready to kick off the @strictlycomedancinglive in @arenabirmingham with this trouble maker @officialgraemeswann." Ahead of the tour, Graeme admitted that it was hard to get back into the dancing rhythm. "It's a bubble that you live in, and part of the reason I did it was that I missed the pressure and high-intensity of professional sport," he told Press Association. "The second you finish, that is it. You're back to reality and doing the school run." The 39-year-old also admitted that once he and Oti left the show, he found it difficult when they went their separate ways. "It's like breaking up with somebody you never went out with, it's really weird," he shared.

MORE: Strictly's Karen Clifton and boyfriend David Webb get matching tattoos

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Oti isn't able to participate in the tour as she is currently starring in new BBC dance show, The Greatest Dancer, alongside Cheryl and Matthew Morrison. Meanwhile, Karen's celebrity dance partner Charles Venn is also busy with other work commitments. The tour comes shortly after Karen spent the festive period in New York with her family and boyfriend. In a recent interview with HELLO!, the pro dancer opened up about how she is in a better place in her life right now following her split from husband Kevin Clifton.

MORE: Inside Strictly's Karen Clifton's house

"Last year I was here in New York on my own, as Kevin spent Christmas with his family," she said, revealing the marriage was unravelling even then. "Things weren't going that great so it was a bit of giving ourselves space, which we both needed. It was the first time I’d come home for Christmas on my own, and I was in a different mindset. Coming home again is very special, spending time with my family who helped me. I've had a pretty intense year and now I feel like a completely different person."

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