Oti Mabuse has announced she’s leaving Strictly Come Dancing after seven years on the show.
The 31-year-old professional announced her departure on Instagram, describing her time on the primetime BBC show as an “incredible time” she would “never forget”.
The South African star is the only dancer to have lifted the Glitterball Trophy in two consecutive years, first in 2019 with Kelvin Fletcher then again in 2020 with Bill Bailey.
Speculation over Mabuse’s future on the show had been circulating since it was announced she would become a judge on ITVs Dancing On Ice, replacing John Barrowman.
‘You are my family’
Alongside a photo of her and Bill Bailey celebrating their win, she wrote: “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.”
Thanking members of the production team “for truly believing in me,” she went on to say 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 into 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 every day unforgettable! I love you.”
Ending her post, she said: “I will always Keeeep Dancing! and I will never forget my amazing Strictly experience!”
Praise from family and friends
Her sister, and member of the Strictly judging panel Motsi Mabuse, praised her decision: “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.
Executive producer of Strictly Come Dancing, Sarah James, said Mabuse would be “hugely missed” and would “always be at the very heart of our Strictly family”.
Strictly Come Dancing will return to BBC One for its 20th series later this year.
Dancing On Ice is currently showing on ITV.