Pasha Kovalev has announced he is leaving Strictly Come Dancing after “eight fantastic years.”
In a statement, the pro dancer said: “After scoring 93 perfect tens, reaching four finals and lifting one glitter ball, it’s time for me to find a new challenge and so I’ve decided to make last year my final season on Strictly.”
Kovalev, who was crowned Strictly champion with his celebrity partner Caroline Flack in 2014, has been a vital part of the show since he joined in 2011. During his time on Strictly he has danced alongside Ashley Roberts, Carol Kirkwood, Kimberley Walsh, Chizzy Akudolu, Naga Munchetty and Rachel Riley – a partnership which has led to a long-term romantic relationship with the Countdown presenter.
The BBC said: “Pasha is an incredibly talented and dedicated dancer who is much loved by his Strictly family and viewers and will be hugely missed… we would like to thank him for everything he has contributed to the show over the years and wish him the very best for the future.”
Kovalev also sent his thanks “to all the members of the public who’ve supported me so much over these years,” praising “the incredible partners, professionals and myriad of behind the scenes teams who all work to make Strictly the amazing production that it is.”
Pro dancer Karen Clifton tweeted: “Gonna miss you so much Pasha Kovalev, an all around gentleman and a fantastic dancer to work with. Love you buddy.”
The professional line-up for Strictly Come Dancing 2019 has yet to be confirmed, although there are already rumours flying around about which celebrities will enter the ballroom this year.