Monday 20 August 2018

Strictly Come Dancing's new professional dancers include former BGT contestants

Chloe Hewitt will be Strictly Come Dancing's youngest ever professional at the age of 20 (PA/BBC)
Chloe Hewitt will be Strictly Come Dancing's youngest ever professional at the age of 20 (PA/BBC)

Two former Britain's Got Talent contestants have been picked to become professional dancers on Strictly Come Dancing.

AJ Pritchard and Chloe Hewitt were called "absolutely brilliant" by judge Simon Cowell when they appeared on the ITV show in 2013, reaching the semi-final.

At the time they were just teenagers - and now British Champion Hewitt has become the BBC One dance programme's youngest ever professional dancer at the age of 20.

She and Pritchard, 21, are among the three dancers who have been newly announced to join the 2016 series.

Hewitt was just eight when Strictly first aired, inspiring her to start dancing and take up Ballroom and Latin lessons.

The Chester-born dancer said: "My childhood dream of being on Strictly Come Dancing is now reality! The sheer excitement is exhilarating and I cannot wait to be part of the Strictly family."

She and her dance partner Pritchard, from Stoke-on-Trent, have shared a nine-year competitive career which has seen them become European Youth Latin Champions and British Open Youth Latin Champions.

Pritchard said: " Watch out Strictly, here I come, it is going to be amazing and I feel ecstatic!"

Also joining the show will be undefeated four-time British National Champion Neil Jones.

He follows in the footsteps of his wife Katya Jones, who has already been announced as part of the 2016 line-up alongside newcomers Oksana Platero and Gorka Marquez.

The Joneses are previous winners of the World Amateur Latin Championships and last year were crowned World Professional Latin Showdance Champions.

Mr Jones, who was born in a British Army camp in Germany, said: "I am so thrilled to be joining the cast of Strictly Come Dancing! As a British dancer I have grown up watching this amazing show, it is a massive honour and I am feeling pumped and excited to be part of the Strictly family."

This year's professional line-up has seen plenty of change after dancers Gleb Savchenko, Aliona Vilani, Kristina Rihanoff, Ola Jordan and Tristan MacManus all announced they were quitting the show.

However, there will be familiar faces on the dance floor as Aljaz Skorjanec, Anton Du Beke, Brendan Cole, Pasha Kovalev, Kevin Clifton, Giovanni Pernice, Karen Clifton, Joanne Clifton, Janette Manrara, Natalie Lowe and Oti Mabuse are all making a return.

At 50, Du Beke is the oldest professional dancer currently on the show.

Strictly will return on BBC One in the autumn.

Press Association

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