Strictly Come Dancing is just about the biggest show in the UK right now, and there’s a whole host of familiar faces gracing our screen this series.
As well as judges Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Anton Du Beke – not to mention presenters Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman – the Strictly professionals are always right at the heart of the action.
This year there are four new professionals to look out for, with Kai Widdrington, Nikita Kuzmin, Cameron Lombard and Jowita Przystal stepping onto the dance floor.
They’ll be hoping to follow in the footsteps of some of the fan favourites that have come before.
While many long-standing professionals are still going strong on the show, there are plenty of big names who previously left the competition after making a big impression in years gone by.
But where are they now? Here’s what you need to know.
Aliona made history in the competition after becoming the first pro to ever win the series twice – way before Oti Mabuse achieved the feat.
She first danced on the show with Rav Wilding in 2009, before winning the show with Harry Judd in 2011 and then in 2015 with The Wanted singer Jay McGuiness. That proved to be her final series, with the dancer quitting Strictly to move to the US with her husband. In 2017 she gave birth to a daughter named Bella.
James and Ola Jordan
Married couple James and Ola Jordan were regular fixtures on the hit BBC series for years, representing some of the longest-standing professionals on the programme.
Since leaving Strictly in 2015, Ola took part in The Jump but fell during a training run and suffered a torn ligament in her knee which required surgery. She also took part in the sixteenth series of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!.
James, meanwhile, took part in Celebrity Big Brother in 2014 after leaving Strictly in 2013, and won the eleventh series of Dancing on Ice in 2019.
In 2019, the pair also appeared togged on Celebrity Coach Trip.
Brendan was there from the very start of Strictly, having won the first series with newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky. He enjoyed 13 years on the show from 2004 to 2017.
He’s taken part in many shows outside of Strictly since, including appearing on X Factor: Celebrity. He was also a judge on the New Zealand version of Dancing with the Stars. Brendan now lives in Mallorca with his wife and children.
Strictly fans will remember Pasha from his seven year stint on the series between 2011 and 2018, before leaving the show to seek out a ‘new challenge’.
He was paired with Countdown star Rachel Riley in 2013 and the pair went on to marry in 2019 and have a daughter together. They are currently expecting a second child together.
English dancer Darren is married to Russian dancer Lilia Kopylova, and competed on Strictly from 2004 to 2009.
Outside of Strictly, he appeared as a judge on the Lebanese edition of Dancing With The Stars, as well as acting as a producer on the Irish version of the series and starring in West End dance show, Latin Fever, with wife Lilia.
Kristina’s life changed forever after being partnered with former England rugby international Ben Cohen in 2013. Kristina was on the series from 2008 to 2015, but left to start a family with Ben after the pair fell for each other on the show.
Since then, she appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2016 and now has a daughter. Kristina also works as a yoga teacher.
Fans will remember that Artem was a regular fixture on the show from 2010 until 2013. He also made headlines after dating celebrity partner Kara Tointon.
They were together for three years, but now he is engaged to Nikki Bella and they have a son together. He went on to appear on Dancing with the Stars after leaving Strictly.
Joanne comes from a pretty prestigious dancing family, with her brother Kevin also starring on Strictly, and she appeared on the programme from 2014 to 2016.
She was the expert presenter on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two in 2015 and 2019.
Since leaving the programme she has returned to the stage, where she led the cast in the UK tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie and played Janet Weiss in the UK tour of The Rocky Horror Show.
Robin enjoyed three years on Strictly during appearances from 2010 to 2013.
Since leaving the programme, he’s taught ballroom dancing and starred in theatre productions such as Puttin’ On The Ritz with other Strictly stars Kristina Rihanoff and Robin Windsor.
Erin was a dancer on the programme for eight years, using the skills she’d honed as Anton Du Beke’s professional partner outside of the show. She’s been dancing with Anton since 1997.
Erin left the show to start a family with Peter O’Dowd, and she still performs with Anton.
I’m A Celebrity fans will remember Vincent starred on the show after leaving Strictly after six years in 2012.
He is still involved in the world of dancing and is married to partner Susan Duddy. He dances with professional partner and former Strictly star Flavia Cacace perform under the moniker Vincent and Flavia.
While Ian left Strictly in 2009 after five years on the show, he stayed a part of the Strictly family after appearing regularly alongside Zoe Ball on spin-off It Takes Two.
He left the show at the same time as Zoe, and he now runs the fitness company FitSteps.
Karen enjoyed a victorious time on Strictly after winning with cricketer Mark Ramprakash
She left to focus her attention on her own dance studio, while also appearing on spin-off show It Takes Two.
She is married to professional dancer Conrad Murray and they have two children together.
Natalia was a dancer for seven years on the show before leaving in 2016.
She teamed up with Ian Waite to launch FitSteps, and had a baby boy with husband James Knibbs in 2019.
Kevin was one of the most popular dancers on the show before he left the programme in 2019. He won in 2018 with Stacey Dooley, and the pair are now very much an item after falling for each other during their stint as dancing partners.
He puts out a podcast and is focusing most of his attention now on live shows. He’s set to tour with Craig Revel Horwood in Strictly Ballroom.
AJ left the show after three years, and he went on to appear in I’m A Celebrity.
He and his brother have since tried their hand at acting after a sting in Hollyoaks – although viewers didn’t seem all that convinced by their performances.
Strictly Come Dancing continues tonight at 7.10pm on Saturday at BBC One.
Credit: Original article published here.