Joanne Clifton on leav­ing Strictly, plus a new take on Louisa M. Al­cott’s Lit­tle Women

reign­ing cham­pion Joanne Clifton on why she’s de­cided to leave the hit show

TV Times - - News - Emma Bul­limore

Strictly 2016 win­ner Joanne Clifton – who lifted the glit­ter­ball with celebrity part­ner TV pre­sen­ter Ore Oduba – has an­nounced that she’s leav­ing the na­tion’s favourite Satur­day night show to con­cen­trate on her mu­si­cal theatre ca­reer, with a star­ring role in the UK tour of Flash­dance The Mu­si­cal.

In an in­ter­view with

TV Times News, Jo re­veals it was her brother, fel­low

Strictly pro dancer Kevin, who gave her the con­fi­dence to leave.

‘It was one of the tough­est de­ci­sions of my life – Strictly is the big­gest show on TV!’ says Jo, 33. ‘But I have al­ways wanted to do mu­si­cals and I’ve been tak­ing act­ing and sing­ing lessons for the past three years.

‘Kevin was the first per­son I spoke to about it. He was a lit­tle hes­i­tant, but then he saw me in the UK tour of Thor­oughly Mod­ern Mil­lie and he got a bit emo­tional. He told me he was so proud and said it was the right de­ci­sion to leave. It was at that mo­ment I knew I could fol­low my dream.’

Jo’s fel­low pros Natalie Lowe and Ok­sana Platero – who part­nered Judge Rin­der last year – are also leav­ing. The three will be re­placed by es­tab­lished ball­room stars Dianne Buswell, Nadiya By­chkova and Amy Dow­den.

‘I know Dianne, she’s got a huge per­son­al­ity and will be great,’ says

Jo. ‘Nadiya trained at the same school as me – she’s a bril­liant dancer and a lovely per­son.’

Jo’s also a fan of Len Good­man’s re­place­ment, new Head Judge Shirley Bal­las. ‘Shirley taught Kev and me as chil­dren,’ she says. ‘She’s a big name in the ball­room world; she won so many ti­tles and taught lots of cham­pi­ons. She’s the per­fect choice.’

Mean­while, Jo can’t wait to slip into her leg­warm­ers to re­vive 1980s hit Flash­dance. ‘It’s such an iconic role, I’m so ex­cited!’ she says.

Kevin told me to leave!

First place: Joanne with part­ner ore

Joanne as Flash­dance’s

alex owens

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