Joanne Clifton quits Strictly Come Dancing as professional dancer line-up for series 15 is confirmed

The reigning champion will not return for the next series, while Oksana Platero is also out of the official professional line-up

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While Strictly Come Dancing favourites like Brendan Cole, Anton Du Beke and Janette Manara will all be returning to the ballroom this autumn, there will be a few notable absences and new faces in the professional dancers line-up.

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Joanne Clifton, the reigning champion, who lifted the Glitterball trophy with Ore Oduba in 2016, will not be returning to the show, and three new female professional dancers are joining.

Meet the new Strictly Come Dancing professionals: Nadiya Bychkova, Dianne Buswell and Amy Dowden

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New Strictly Come Dancing professionals Nadiya Bychkova, Dianne Buswell and Amy Dowden

While her brother Kevin Clifton and sister-in-law Karen Clifton will both be coming back to Strictly, Joanne’s winning routine with Ore in the opening episode of Strictly this year will prove to be her swan song.

“Being part of the Strictly experience has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me,” said Joanne. “And I will miss the show so much. It’s been a tough decision but I am looking forward to facing new challenges and focusing on my musical theatre career.”

Exclusive interview with Joanne Clifton on why she quit Strictly Come Dancing: “I achieved what I wanted to in dance… my heart’s always been in musicals”

Meanwhile, Oksana Platero has also announced that she won’t be returning. Last year was her first on the show and she made it to the quarter-finals with her partner Judge Robert Rinder. She said: “I just want to say thank you to everyone involved with Strictly. Last year was my first season and I had an unforgettable time working alongside such amazing dancers and an even better time with Judge Rinder.

“It was an opportunity of a lifetime and I will never forget it. Thank you so much for the memories.”

Following the departure of Natalie Lowe from the show last month, there’s now space for three new female dancers and the new faces joining the ballroom are Australia’s Dianne Buswell, Nadiya Bychkova from Ukraine and Amy Dowden from Wales.

Strictly Come Dancing’s full professional line-up is as follows:

Male professionals

Anton Du Beke

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Brendan Cole

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Kevin Clifton

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Neil Jones

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Pasha Kovalev

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Gorka Marquez

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Giovanni Pernice

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AJ Pritchard

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Aljaž Škorjanec

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Female professionals

Karen Clifton

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Chloe Hewitt

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Katya Jones

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Oti Mabuse

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Janette Manrara

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Amy Dowden

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Dianne Buswell

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Nadiya Bychkova

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After months of speculation, it was confirmed in May that British-born Ballroom and Latin dancer Shirley Ballas had beaten the likes of Anton Du Beke, Karen Hardy and Brendan Cole to the top job of Head Judge, replacing Len Goodman on the panel after he retired at the end of last series.

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Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 in the autumn