Kevin Clifton to leave Strictly Come Dancing - BBC News

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Kevin Clifton and Stacey Dooley
Image caption Kevin reached the final five times in seven years, winning with Stacey Dooley

Kevin Clifton is to leave Strictly Come Dancing after seven years to "focus on other areas of my life and career".

The 37-year-old lifted the glitterball trophy with Stacey Dooley in 2018.

He said his time on the show had been "some of the most wonderful years of my life", and that he was grateful to have been "part of something truly special".

Clifton married fellow Strictly professional Karen Hauer in 2015, but they split three years later. He and Dooley are now a couple.

Before winning the BBC dance contest in 2018, Kevin was runner-up for four years in a row in his first four series. Last year, he partnered Anneka Rice.

He wrote on Twitter: "Since first being called 'Kevin From Grimsby' by Sir Bruce Forsyth in 2013 I have experienced the highs of five finals, winning a Guinness World record on It Takes Two, the Strictly Arena tour glitterball and then the ultimate of winning the 2018 series with Stacey Dooley."

Kevin on Strictly through the years

2013 - He got to the final in his first year with breakfast TV host Susanna Reid.

2014 - He came close again, reaching the final with former Saturdays singer Frankie Bridge.

2015 - With EastEnders actress Kellie Bright, he was a runner-up again.

2016 - He reached his fourth final in a row with singer Louise Redknapp.

2017 - He got to week 10 with comedian Susan Calman.

2018 - "King Kev" finally got his hands on the glitterball, thanks to his partnership with Stacey Dooley.

2019 - Last year, he couldn't make it further than week three with TV presenter Anneka Rice.

'Dream and honour'

On Twitter, Kevin wrote: "After finishing last series with the Children In Need trophy and the Christmas special I want to leave on a high and have therefore decided the time has come to move on and focus on other areas of my life and career.

"I want to thank all of the pros for inspiring me every day as well as all of my celebrity partners. The whole team behind the scenes have always made the Strictly family what it is and the loveliest show to work for.

"Thank you to anyone who has ever voted for me and my partners. It means the world."

The 37-year-old added that Strictly was "the best show on TV", and it had been "an absolute dream and honour" to be a part of it.

It Takes Two host Zoe Ball and 2019 contestant Mike Bushell were among those wishing him well.

A BBC spokesperson said: "He has provided the show with some fantastic moments, through his exceptional talent as a dancer and choreographer. He will be hugely missed by fans and by his Strictly family."

His sister Joanne is also a former Strictly professional, and beat Kevin to the glitterball when she triumphed with Ore Oduba in 2016. Their parents Keith and Judy run Cliftons Dance Academy in North East Lincolnshire.

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