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Kevin Clifton announced his shock departure from Strictly Come Dancing on Friday. And it has since emerged he'd been wanting to bow out of the show for over a year.
After winning the glitterball trophy with now-girlfriend Stacey Dooley in 2018, the Grimsby-born dancer is said to have been close to quitting before the 2019 series.
Having appeared in Rock of Ages between his stints on Strictly, Kevin, 37, was reportedly keen to explore the West End path and leave Strictly behind.
“Kevin was flooded with lucrative offers after he won Strictly with Stacey in 2018 and told bosses then that he wanted to walk away,” an insider revealed.
“His head was turned by the money. But he was talked into coming back with a lot of flattery about ‘King Kev’ being the most-loved pro dancer on the show.”
While he “hoped to follow his and Stacey’s win with more success” Kevin – who was lovingly known as “King Kev” for reaching the final five times in seven years – was partnered with Anneka Rice and the pair were eliminated from the competition in week two.
Kevin made the shock announcement via a statement on social media on Friday and told fans he’ll be focussing on other aspects of his career.
He said, “The past seven years have been some of the most wonderful of my life. I am grateful to the BBC and Strictly Come Dancing for giving me the opportunity to have been part of something truly special.”
It has now been reported that Kevin – who first appeared on Strictly with ex-wife Karen Hauer – has landed a spot in a West End show, after completing a successful run in The Wedding Singer.
“Kevin’s decision came as a real shock to many of those involved in the show,” an insider revealed. “Bosses were shocked that somebody who has benefited so much from the show wants to walk away.
“But he’s got a West End deal in place already and that’s going to take up most of his year so there was no persuading him to stay.”
We can’t wait to see what’s next, Kev!