Brendan Cole has announced that he will not be returning to Strictly Come Dancing after his contract with the BBC dance show was not renewed.
The 41-year-old dancer, who has starred in every single series of Strictly, made a tearful appearance on ITV's Lorraine to reveal that he will be absent when the BBC contest returns this autumn, after finding out at the end of last week that bosses had "made an editorial decision not to have me back on the show".
- Get tickets to the Strictly Come Dancing live tour
- Fans are furious about Strictly Come Dancing's decision to axe Brendan Cole
Cole won Strictly in its first year back in 2004 with partner Natasha Kaplinsky, but has failed to make the latter stages of the competition in recent series, telling Lorraine "in the last five years I haven't really made a noise on the show with my partners."
A visibly emotional Cole admitted, "I'm very disappointed. I've always known this day will come but to actually get here."
He confirmed he would have continued as a professional dancer given the choice – "I’ve always said as long as I have a passion for it I want to be there and my passion for it is still there" – but added that he'd never been contracted to the show for more than one year.
"The powers that be will have a vision of the show and I'm not part of the vision – you've got to accept what decisions are made. I would have preferred to make the decision myself but maybe I'd never have made it".
He added: "I'm a very strong character within the show – I have my strong views. I love that side of the show, I like being a character."
Strictly have responded to Cole's announcement with a statement, thanking him for being part of the show.
Last year Cole became the centre of some controversy, after he hit out at the judges' treatment of his celebrity partner Charlotte Hawkins who departed the contest in week three.
Speaking on Lorraine at the time, the professional dancer said that he thought the Good Morning Britain presenter had “so much to give” and that it “would’ve been nice” if judges Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell and Bruno Tonioli had cut her some slack.
But breaking the news of his departure, he told Lorraine he would continue to watch the show and "support my friends who are in it," adding that he'd told his fellow professionals ten minutes before making his on-air appearance.
He joked: "I’m very sad to leave however available for weddings, funerals and bar mitzvahs".
Were Strictly right to let Brendan go?
Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 in the autumn