Strictly season will see 15 brand new celebs take to the dancefloor every Saturday night – but the annual BBC dance bonanza has heralded a number of changes, with Motsi Mabuse joining the panel, Rylan Clark-Neal now at the helm of It Takes Two and Gorka Marquez not included in the main line-up.
The pro dancer’s role change was criticised by fans, but his former Strictly partner Katie Piper said it was a “brilliant time” for him to take a step back.
Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com at the Pantene Power of Hair launch, Katie, 35, said that while she was “sad,” the new role will allow him to spend more time at home with partner Gemma Atkinson and their two-month-old daughter Mia.
“He’s just had a baby, I’ve got two girls myself,” she said. “What a brilliant time to be doing a bit of Strictly and a bit of being a dad, so I think it’s worked out quite well.”
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For everybody that’s been asking, I can let you know that this series, I sadly won’t be partnered with a celebrity for the main series of Strictly. However, I will still be heavily involved in all of the group numbers and all things Strictly! I’m excited to see this year’s celebs and my fellow professionals dance for the Glitter Ball and I hope to be back fighting for it next year. As always, it’s gonna be a GREAT series. ????????????
Her comments come weeks after Gorka hinted he is not best pleased with his new role.
When one Instagram user asked whether it was “his choice” to take a step back from the show and spend time with his family, he replied: “Not really LOL. But I will.”
Katie, who was eliminated in week three last year, is backing YouTuber Saffron Barker to take the coveted Glitterball trophy.
“She seems quite full of energy and she’s quite a positive person,” she said. “And she feels like she’s starting from afresh.
“I would say to the celebs on Strictly to just let go and enjoy it because no-one knows how long your Strictly journey is going to be. It could be one week, it could be 12 weeks. So every Saturday, go on the ballroom floor and enjoy it like it’s the last.”
Strictly Come Dancing launches Saturday at 7.10pm on BBC 1