Oti Mabuse has announced she is leaving Strictly Come Dancing after seven years as a professional partner.
The South African dancer, 31, has appeared on the BBC One show since 2015 and recently became a judge on the latest series of ITV’s Dancing On Ice, prompting speculation about her future with Strictly.
She is the only dancer in the BBC dancing show’s history to win two consecutive series, having won with soap star Kelvin Fletcher in 2019 and comedian Bill Bailey in 2020.
Mabuse revealed she would be leaving Strictly on her Instagram, writing: “Never easy to say goodbye. I have been part of the most amazing TV show, Strictly Come Dancing for the past seven years and it has been an incredible time.
“Lifting the glitter ball twice and having the best journey with all my celebrities, but also meeting and working with the best team, crew, producers, celebs and incredible professional dancers! You are my family and I adore you all forever.
“Thank you @sarahjamesface @jack.will.g and @jasongilkison for truly believing in me.”
Mabuse said she was “honestly so grateful to The BBC and will always remember that Strictly and BBC brought me to the UK – which I now call home and I have learnt and grown so much. – Thank You from the bottom of my heart”.
She added: “I can’t put in to words how difficult this decision has been, but I have decided not to return for the next series.
“Dance will always be my first love and to everyone, my family especially, friends, strictly fans and judges who have been my support throughout my strictly journey, thank you for being incredible! You are irreplaceable in my heart and have made everyday unforgettable! I love you.”
Ending her post, she said: “I will always Keeeep Dancing! and I will never forget my amazing Strictly experience!”
Motsi Mabuse, her sister and a member of the Strictly judging panel, said: “It’s time to fly baby girl! I am so proud of you fearless, courageous and so looking forward to seeing your dreams come true.”
Congratulations also came from fellow Strictly pros including Dianne Buswell, Luba Mushtuk and Graziano Di Prima, and former contestants such as Dr Ranj Singh.
Rumours over Mabuse’s future on Strictly began circulating late last year when it was announced that she would replace John Barrowman as a judge on Dancing On Ice.
Barrowman, 54, joined the judging panel in 2019 after appearing as a contestant on the show in 2006.
He said his departure was unrelated to the accusations that he repeatedly exposed himself on the set of Doctor Who and its sister show Torchwood.
Instead, the actor, who starred as Captain Jack Harkness, said his exit was prompted by him taking a role on All Star Musicals, another ITV series.
Sarah James, executive producer of Strictly Come Dancing, praised Mabuse for the role she played during her time on the show.
She said: “Oti has been a truly wonderful part of Strictly for the past seven years.
“Her energy, creativity and talent have contributed to so many of the show’s most memorable moments and she will be hugely missed, not only by viewers, but the entire team.
“She leaves a dazzling legacy behind her, as the only professional dancer to lift the Glitterball Trophy in two consecutive years.
“We couldn’t be prouder of Oti and what she has achieved on the show. She will always be at the very heart of our Strictly family and we wish her every success in her already bright future.”
Strictly Come Dancing will return to BBC One for its 20th series later this year.