The Strictly Come Dancing professionals have been rattled by the shock departure of Brendan Cole, according to last year’s winner Katya Jones.
The 28-year-old dancer, who lifted the glitterball trophy with actor Joe McFadden, said being the reigning champion doesn’t secure her place on the new series, as the dancers wait to hear if their contracts will be renewed.
“Things have changed with Brendan unfortunately leaving. Everyone is a bit on edge about what will happen,” she told The Daily Star Sunday.
She added that all the professionals “were just so shocked” to hear Brendan had been axed, as he’s been on the show since the first series – which he won with Natasha Kaplinsky.
“He’s the man. No-one expected him to go,” she continued.
The BBC announced in January that they had decided not to renew Brendan’s contract.
They said at the time: “We’d like to thank Brendan for being part of the show since the beginning – winner of the first series – and for the contribution he has made to its success. We wish him all the very best for the future.”
The father-of-two spoke out of his own shock and sadness at the decision on Lorraine, telling her: “This is quite hard to talk about. The BBC haven’t renewed my contract – we get renewed year on year – and they made an editorial decision not to have me back on the show.
“I’m a little bit in shock. I’m quite emotional, a bit raw about it.”
Katya said the decision also shook all the other professionals, who are still waiting to hear if they will be on this year’s series.
She said they will find out “soon” but she has no idea if she’ll be one of the lucky dancers.
“I’d love to be back for the next series and have another great year. But being a winner doesn’t mean I can’t go. They won’t necessarily ask me back,” she said.
Katya joined Strictly in 2016 where her routines with politician Ed Balls made a big impression. He finished sixth that year, and Katya went on to win last year with Holby City’s Joe.
She’s married to her professional dance partner Neil Jones, who is also part of the BBC show for the group dances but is yet to be paired with a celeb. Could this be his year?
Meanwhile, on last week’s BBC Breakfast, Karen and Kevin Clifton also said they were “waiting by the phone” to hear if they will be asked back.
Kevin said: “We love the show and, of course, we want to get that call.
“We sort of leave that half of the year free in our diaries in hope.”
Other dancers waiting to hear if they will be asked to return include Anton Du Beke, AJ Pritchard, Gorka Marquez, Aljaž Skorjanec, Oti Mabuse and Nadiya Bychkova.
We hope they will all take to the Strictly dance floor again!
Which professional dancers would you like to return this series? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix and let us know what you think!