Strictly stars pay tribute to axed pro dancers

Brendan Cole and Chloe Hewitt will not feature in the next series of the BBC dancing competition.

Press Association
Last updated: 30 May 2018 - 3.55pm

Strictly Come Dancing professional Karen Clifton has said her departing colleagues Brendan Cole and Chloe Hewitt will be missed from the dance floor when the show returns later this year.

The duo will leave the show and three new professionals will join the line-up.

[Read more: Who are the 2018 Strictly Come Dancing pro dancers]

[Read more: Which celebs are doing Strictly 2018?]

New Zealand-born Cole, 42, revealed in January that he would not be returning to Strictly following the BBC’s “editorial decision” not to renew his contract

Clifton posted on Twitter: “Big shout out to our friends @HewittChloe and @BrendanCole . You are going to be missed on the Strictly Dance floor.”

She also celebrated the fact she will return to the BBC show, writing: “Thrilled to be back on @bbcstrictly for my 7th series. #LongestStandingFemalePro.”

The new dancers announced are Italian Latin champion Graziano Di Prima, Professional South African Latin champion Johannes Radebe and four-time winner of the Italian Dance Championship Luba Mushtuk.

Mushtuk wrote on Twitter: “And this special day has arrived. I’m so happy to announce that I will be a Professional Dancer on Strictly Come Dancing along side with 17 other incredible Pros.

“Thank you @bbcstrictly for this priceless opportunity I’ve been dreaming about. Can not wait for this exciting journey to begin.”

Another of the series’ professional dancers, Oti Mabuse, paid tribute to Hewitt, writing: “Sending this beauty love @HewittChloe, my Leo sister you will always be a superstar.

“Beauty, brains, talented and a huge personality! You will be dearly missed and with us in spirit and of course always a part of the #sisterhood acting crazy, laughing loud and loving life”.

Strictly professional Giovanni Pernice, who reached the final last year with his partner Debbie McGee, tweeted his joy at returning to the dancing line-up.

He wrote: “Happy happy happy boy!!! I’m back for another season on @bbcstrictly ! Can’t wait to start again”.

Gorka Marquez, who is dating one of last year’s Strictly celebrity contestants, actress and radio presenter Gemma Atkinson, will also return this year.

He tweeted: “SUPER EXCITED!!! To announce that I’ll be back for my 3rd series of @bbcstrictly Can not wait to be back on the dance floor every weekend with the rest of the amazing pros! #keepdancing”.

Last year Marquez danced with singer Alexandra Burke while Atkinson was partnered with Aljaz Skorjanec.

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