Former Strictly pro reacts to Aljaž Škorjanec’s return and what that means for the show

Speaking exclusively to, Clifton called the news “brilliant” and said she was “incredibly happy” for Škorjanec.

“Aljaž was always a huge, huge favourite,” she said. “He’s very popular and one of the nicest guys. I think it’s absolutely great that he’s coming back.”

Clifton also spoke about how special her professional partnership with Škorjanec is, having worked with him on and off the Strictly dancefloor.

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“He was my dance partner on Burn the Floor before we did Strictly and then I danced with him a lot when I was on it because he and I both specialise in ballroom dancing,” she explained.

“After that we did the Burn the Floor reunion together, so my last real ballroom dance was actually with Aljaž.”

Joanne Clifton

I’m Joanne Clifton. Shane Anthony Sinclair/Getty Images

Clifton and Škorjanec performed in the live dance show Burn the Floor, which toured Australia and Japan in spring 2014.

In 2013, Škorjanec joined the Strictly crew and won the Glitterball trophy in his first year with celebrity partner Abbey Clancy.

He later came runner-up in 2017 with Gemma Atkinson and was also partnered by Call the Midwife actress Helen George and Dragons’ Den star Sara Davies.

When his return was announced, the dance admitted he was “ecstatic” to be back.

“I had a blast during my nine years on Strictly,” he said. “While I was away I became a father, which was an exciting challenge in itself, and now I’m ready to experience the Strictly magic again.”

“It feels so right to be back. I missed the fun, the glamour and of course the judges and I hope to make my daughter Lyra proud!”

Jannette Manrara, Aljaž Škorjanec and Joanne Clifton

Janette Manrara, Aljaž Škorjanec and Joanne Clifton in 2014. Karwai Tang / Contributor

Meanwhile, the dancer’s wife, Janette Manrara, shared her own excitement on Instagram.

“We started our @bbcstrictly journey together in 2013 and now, for the 20th anniversary, we will both be back on your screens,” she wrote under some sweet photos of the couple, as well as one of Aljaž with their little daughter Lyra.

“I’m so happy that the country can once again enjoy the smilest man in showbiz.”

Strictly Come Dancing is set to return to our screens in autumn 2024, but a release date has not yet been announced.

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