Johannes Radebe almost pulled out of Strictly amid grief and Annabel Croft partnership
"I remember calling my agent. I was like... 'Maybe we should say that I shouldn't get a partner this year because I just really need some time out.'"
*This article includes references to suicide that some readers may find upsetting.*
Johannes Radebe has revealed he almost pulled out of last year's Strictly Come Dancing competition following the death of a family member.
As many viewers will remember, Radebe was partnered with tennis legend Annabel Croft, and the duo were adored by many as they made it all the way to the semi-final of the competition.
In a recent interview on the Table Manners podcast, Radebe opened up about not being "as excited" as he usually would be amid dealing with grief as the competition began.
He said: "When they said I'm dancing with her, I was like, 'What are they trying to achieve?' And I say that because two weeks before I started, I buried my cousin who committed suicide. You know, I wasn't as excited as I normally would be.
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"Because I was like, 'This is supposed to be the most exciting period, I've just come back off a very successful tour. But I had to then go home (South Africa). I could have stayed out there for longer but after we buried him, I had to fly back to the UK and do my audiobook."
Croft had recently lost her husband of 30 years before joining the Strictly line-up and during the competition, the broadcaster praised the show, admitting it gave her a reason to "get up in the morning".
Continuing on the podcast, Radebe admitted it was "hard" when the competition began as he felt he was "going through the motions".
"And yeah, they said, 'We think that you're the person to partner this woman.' I just said to myself, 'They're reaching.' I remember calling my agent. I was like, 'I don't know what's going to happen. Maybe we should say that I shouldn't get a partner this year because I just really need some time out.'"
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However, despite his initial concerns, the pair struck up a beautiful friendship and Radebe went on to say Croft helped him during their partnership on the show.
"I mean, a lot of people say, 'Oh Johannes, you helped Annabel' – but no, Annabel helped me," he said.