Ex-Strictly Come Dancing professional Joanne Clifton has echoed the cries of fans and colleagues currently congratulating Aljaž Škorjanec on his return to the show.


The Slovenian pro-dancer announced this week that he would be appearing in Strictly 2024 after a two-season break to help celebrate the show's 20th anniversary.

Clifton, in an exclusive chat with RadioTimes.com, called the news "brilliant" and said she was "unbelievably happy" for Škorjanec.

"Aljaž was always a big, big favourite," she said. "He's very popular and he's one of the nicest guys as well, so I think it's absolutely brilliant that he's going back"

Clifton also spoke about how special her professional partnership with Škorjanec is, having worked with him on and off the Strictly dancefloor.

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"He was my dance partner in Burn the Floor before we did Strictly, and then I danced with him a lot when I was on it because me and him are both specialised in ballroom," she explained.

"After that we did the Burn the Floor reunion together, so my last bit of proper ballroom dancing was actually with Aljaž."

Joanne Clifton
Joanne Clifton. Shane Anthony Sinclair/Getty Images

Clifton and Škorjanec appeared on live dance show Burn the Floor in spring 2014, as it toured in Australia and Japan.

Škorjanec then joined the Stritcly crew in 2013, going on to lift the Glitterball trophy in his very first year with celebrity partner Abbey Clancy.

He later came runner-up in 2017 with Gemma Atkinson and had other partners in Call the Midwife actress Helen George and Dragons' Den star Sara Davies.

When his return was announced, the dance confessed he was "ecstatic" to be back.

"I had an absolute ball during my nine-year stint on Strictly," he said. "During my time away I became a parent, which has been an exciting challenge in itself, and now I'm ready to experience the Strictly magic again.

"It feels so right to be coming back. I missed the fun, glitter and the judges of course, and I hope to make my daughter Lyra proud!"

Jannette Manrara, Aljaž Škorjanec and Joanne Clifton
Janette Manrara, Aljaž Škorjanec and Joanne Clifton in 2014. Karwai Tang / Contributor

Meanwhile the dancer's wife Janette Manrara took to Instagram to share her own excitement.

"We started our @bbcstrictly journey together back in 2013, and now for the 20th year anniversary, we'll both be back on your screens once again," she captioned some sweet photos of the couple, as well as one of Aljaž with their young daughter Lyra.

"I am so happy the country gets to enjoy the smiliest man in showbiz once again."

Strictly Come Dancing is set to return to our screens in autumn 2024, although no release date has been announced yet.


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