aj pritchard dancing

Strictly star AJ Pritchard announces he's leaving the show

The fan favourite has starred on the BBC dance series for four years

Sharnaz Shahid

AJ Pritchard has announced his departure from Strictly Come Dancing after four years, leaving fans devastated. The professional dancer, 25, broke the news on social media on Thursday, writing: "I have some news for you all. Please see the below statement from my team, also sending my love to everyone in this difficult time, please keep safe. AJ x." The TV star has been part of Strictly since 2016, dancing with celebrity partners Claudia Fragapane, Mollie King, Lauren Steadman and Saffron Barker.

aj-protechard-and-saffron-barker

AJ Pritchard is leaving Strictly Come Dancing

Sharing a statement from his agent, the message continued: "After four years on Strictly Come Dancing, AJ has decided the time is right to leave the show and follow his dreams to explore opportunities in the presenting world alongside his brother Curtis. AJ would like to thank the team at Strictly and everyone at the BBC for giving him such a brilliant opportunity. AJ would also like to send his love and gratitude to all who have followed and supported his career. He is excited for you all to join him on the next chapter of his journey."

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Strictly also paid tribute to the professional dancer in a statement, which read: "We would like to thank AJ for four fantastic years on Strictly Come Dancing. He is a brilliant dancer, who reached three semi-finals during his time on the show." The message continued: "He will be missed by fans and the Strictly family. We wish him all the best for the future."

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Fellow Strictly stars were quick to respond to the news, with Oti Mabuse writing: "Aj good luck for the future." Judge Motsi Mabuse added: "Good luck." One fan said: "My fave always, wishing him the best of luck for the future.. can't wait to support him throughout what he does next." Another remarked: "Massive loss to the show."

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AJ was born in Stoke-on-Trent and in 2015 he won one of the biggest championships in the world to become British Open Youth Latin Champion and European Youth Latin Champion. Prior to this, he was National Youth Latin Champion for three years in a row from 2012 to 2014.

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