Strictly Come Dancing's Karen Hauer has spoken candidly as her shock that AJ Pritchard has left the dancing show. Chatting on This Morning, the dancing professional said that the news was a "real shock". When asked if she knew he would be leaving, she said: "Absolutely not. It was a real shock to all of us, I had no idea. We're definitely going to miss AJ and Kevin [Clifton]. We have such a wonderful team in Strictly. I'm excited to see what their upcoming projects will be."
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The 37-year-old also spoke about how the lockdown is affecting Strictly's professional tour, which has been cancelled due to the pandemic, saying: "Right now we're taking it day by day. The most important thing right now is that we're staying home and staying safe. We're trying to dance and stay fit as much as we can. We hope that Strictly does come back but we need - and are hoping for - that Strictly magic that we all love."
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AJ previously opened up about why he left the show
Chatting to The Sun about his decision to leave the series, AJ explained: "I want to have my own brand and there were things I couldn’t do because of the Strictly brand and the time involved. It took up six months of my life, some days I would work 18-hour days because I was dancing and choreographing. I didn’t have a life and I wanted to be able to do more. I want to show people what I’m about — not just, 'Here’s my celebrity partner this year that I’m going to showcase'. I did have to turn down things in the past, which I was upset about sometimes, but I understood I was part of Strictly Come Dancing."
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TheNow I am going to pursue things I didn’t have the time for. It’s the right move." AJ also admitted he felt relieved to finally quit the show. He added: "It’s a relief to finally quit. If I didn’t further my development now, while at my peak mental well-being, I would regret it."