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Strictly stars gone too soon: remembering Robin Windsor, Caroline Flack and more

While they may have passed, these Strictly stars will live on in our hearts and memories 

Former Strictly stars Robin Windsor, Caroline Flack and Bruce Forsyth
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Strictly Come Dancing is one of the best competitive reality shows on TV. That's not only true because of the talent on display, but because of how it lets us into contestants' lives. We get an insight into their day-to-day routines, become familiar with people we might not have seen perform before, and see well-known faces in a new and refreshing light.

Sadly, over the last nineteen years since the show began, some of its most beloved stars have passed away. Read on for our tribute to the Strictly celebrities we've loved and lost…

Kristina Rihanoff and Robin Windsor attend the launch of Strictly Come Dancing 2012© Getty

Robin Windsor

On Tuesday 20 February 2024, it was confirmed that professional dancer Robin Windsor had passed away at the age of 44. 

In a statement, Burn the Floor – a dance company which Robin co-founded – wrote: "His talent, attitude, energy and personality helped create the Burn the Floor stage reputation. He leaves a void in our hearts that will never be filled, yet our wonderful memories will stay forever."

Aside from his dance company, Robin first joined Strictly back in 2010 during its eighth series and was paired with actress Patsy Kensit. 

Robin, who had a professional partnership with fellow Kristina Rihanoff both on and off the Strictly ballroom floor, performed with the likes of Anita Dobson, Lisa Riley and Deborah Meaden during his four years on the BBC programme. 

Caroline Flack at a Strictly photocall© Getty

Caroline Flack

Love Island star Caroline Flack wowed fans with her beautiful dancing back in 2014. Crowned the winner of season 12, the presenter went on to lift the glitterball trophy with pro partner Pasha Kovalev after receiving a perfect score of 120 points, the first couple to achieve that feat.

Viewers were devastated following her death in February 2020, and in a tribute that aired on the show, long-time Strictly judge Bruno Tonioli told cameras: "She really was a joy. We will always love Caroline and we will never forget her."

Paul Daniels at the 2010 Strictly launch show© Getty

Paul Daniels

The legendary magician was best known for fronting The Paul Daniels Magic Show between 1979 and 1994, in which he starred alongside his wife and assistant, Debbie McGee.

His run on Strictly alongside Ola Jordan was much shorter, lasting just a couple of weeks. However, in 2017, a year after he died of a brain tumour, Debbie did him proud when she reached the final with Giovanni Pernice.

gary rhodes close up© Photo: WENN

Gary Rhodes

The sharp-haired celebrity chef was partnered with Karen Hardy back in 2008 and enjoyed a short but fun-filled three-week stint on the show.

Gary died in Dubai in November 2019 at the age of 59 and Karen paid a moving tribute to the chef via social media soon afterwards. "I am truly speechless and lost for words," she said. "But my heart and thoughts go out to his beautiful family at this time."

Lynda's husband said the late star didn't enjoy herself© Mike Marsland

Lynda Bellingham

Actress, Loose Women stalwart and 'Oxo mum' in the beloved series of 1980s TV adverts, Lynda danced with 2006 winner Darren Bennett back in 2009, making it to the fourth week of the show with a series of heartfelt performances.

She was diagnosed with cancer in 2013 and sadly died just over a year later at the age of 66, leaving behind her widower, Michael Pattemore, and two adult sons.

Neale Pirie at the 2015 BAFTAs© Getty

Neale Pirie

Celebrity stylist and Strictly hair designer Neale died suddenly just a month before the 2015 series, after complaining of chest pains. It would have been his fifth year on the show, and his colleagues were quick to pay tribute to the talented 42-year-old.

Strictly's head makeup artist Lisa Armstrong took to social media, where she wrote: "Utterly devastated and heartbroken over the loss of my sidekick and dear friend @Nealepirie such a talent and inspiration!"

Neale was also known for his work on Skyfall and The Voice, as well as for clients including Abbey Clancy.

MORE: 13 most shocking Strictly Come Dancing feuds and dramatic moments over the years

READ: Strictly Come Dancing: 7 relationships that didn't stand the test of time

Willie Thorne wearing a black suit© Getty

Willie Thorne

The professional snooker player died in June 2020, following a diagnosis of leukaemia.

While he didn't stay long on series five of Strictly back in 2007, the kind and characterful sportsman made a huge impact. After his death, his former dance partner Erin Boag tweeted: "I have truly wonderful memories of the time I spent with him. I feel honoured to have danced with this great man."

Bruce Forsyth at a Strictly photocall in 2013© Getty

Bruce Forsyth

Part of the show's original hosting team with Tess Daly, Brucie was a fan favourite who often broke out some impressive moves of his own!

The warm-hearted presenter stepped down from the show in 2014 and passed away in 2017 aged 89.

In a statement, Tess paid tribute to her dear friend, saying: "From the moment we met, Bruce and I did nothing but laugh our way through a decade of working together on Strictly Come Dancing and I will never forget his generosity, his brilliant sense of humour and his drive to entertain."