Strictly Come Dancing professionals had ‘no idea’ AJ Prtichard was quitting show
The cast of Strictly Come Dancing have announced they were as shocked as the public when AJ Pritchard announced he was leaving the show.
AJ, 24, revealed he was leaving the hit BBC show after four years last week, saying he would "explore opportunities in the presenting world alongside his brother Curtis."
His former co-stars Karen Hauer and Oti Mabuse joined Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby on Monday's This Morning from their homes and were asked their reaction to AJ's departure.
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When asked if they knew he wasn't planning on returning to the show, 37 year old Karen said: "Absolutely not. It was a real shock to all of us, I had no idea.
"We're definitely going to miss AJ and Kevin [Clifton]. We have such a wonderful team in Strictly. I'm excited to see what their upcoming projects will be."
Discussing the future of the dancing show amid the current coronavirus crisis, she continued: "Right now were taking it day by day. The most important thing right now is that we're staying home and staying safe.
"We're trying to dance and stay fit as much as we can. We hope that Strictly does come back but we need — and are hoping for — that Strictly magic that we all love."
AJ announced he would be quitting the show on Thursday, writing in a statement posted to his 663,000 Instagram followers: "After four years on Strictly Come Dancing, AJ has decided the time is right to leave the show and follow his dreams to explore opportunities in the presenting world alongside his brother Curtis.
"AJ would like to thank the team at Strictly and everyone at the BBC for giving him such a brilliant opportunity.
"AJ would also like to send his love and gratitude to all who have followed and supported his career.
"He is excited for you all to join him on the next chapter of his journey."
However, it has been reported that his departure has irked BBC bosses, with a source telling The Sun Online: "It's terrible timing, AJ was a big part of the show's future and nobody saw this coming at all.
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"Arriving so quickly after the departure of Kevin — it is a double blow. Things are really tough at the moment.
"The show doesn't come back until the Autumn but, by now, the programme would have liked to have one or two big celeb names signed up.
"So far there is nobody on the books. Everything has been put on hold because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, as well as facing a search for big names, the bosses need to replace one of their top male dancers."
This Morning airs weekdays at 10am on ITV.
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