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Strictly pro dancer reveals he almost quit the show after being paired with this star

Strictly pro dancer Johannes Radebe has revealed he almost quit the show after being paired with Annabel Croft.

The couple quickly became a fan favourite with both the public and the judges during their time on the show.

The pro dancer and tennis champion made it to the semi-final of the dance competition despite Johannes’ initial hesitation.

The 36-year-old initially wasn’t happy with the producer’s choice as the pair had both recently suffered losses.

Annabel was coming to terms with the recent death of her husband Mel Coleman and Johannes was also dealing with his own grief following his cousin’s suicide.

Speaking on the Table Manners podcast, Johannes revealed that two weeks before the start of Strictly he laid his cousin to rest after he took his own life.

When he was partnered with Annabel, Johannes confessed that he contemplated asking producers not to have a partner for that series.

The dancer explained: ‘When they said I’m dancing with her, I was like, What are they trying to achieve? And I say that because two weeks before I started, I buried my cousin who committed suicide.”

“I didn’t feel anything, I wasn’t as excited as I normally would be, because I was like, this is supposed to be the most exciting period, I’ve just come back off a very successful tour. But I had to then go home [South Africa].”

Annabel and her pro partner Johannes Radebe

He continued: “I could have stayed out there for longer but after we buried him, I had to fly back to the UK and do my audiobook.”

“That was hard, and when Strictly started, I was just like, ‘Okay, just felt like I was going through the motions.'”

“So you can imagine when they said the partners I was just like ‘ok great’. I just really wanted to deal with it but you never allow yourself the time to deal with whatever you are going through in your life.”

“And yeah, they said we think that you’re the person to partner with this woman. I just said to myself, they’re reaching.”

He added: “I remember calling my agent, I was like, I don’t know what’s going to happen. Maybe we should say that I shouldn’t get a partner this year because I just really need some time out.”

However, despite his initial concerns about how Annabel’s grief would affect his own, the duo became best friends.

“I mean, a lot of people say, ‘Oh Johannes, you helped Annabel’ but no, Annabel helped me,” he said.

Annabel’s husband Mel died in May 2023 of colon cancer just 16 weeks after he was first diagnosed.

Throughout the competition, the athlete paid tribute to Johannes and how much he had helped her through this time.

Following her departure from the show, Annabel said penned an emotional Instagram post thanking her mentor.

The 57-year-old wrote: “There are SO many things I have to say, so here is a Part 1 reflection on Saturday… What an amazing semi-final and congratulations to all 3 finalists – you are so talented and deserving of your place, in what’s going to be a wonderful final… ”

“Dancing a Salsa on Saturday night and being flung around like a rag doll was not something I will ever forget. I spent half the dance in hysterics, after skidding on the floor and landing on my back, with out of control legs in the air ha ha ha…”


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A post shared by Annabel Croft (@annabel_croft)

“Thank goodness for the super strong Johannes, who was able to pick me up and land me on my feet, just in time, to hit the beat and carry on partying. What a blast!…”

“The last video was taken in rehearsals when I practiced the entrance from the sky, however seconds before we danced live, the mechanics broke down, so confetti was thrown from a stationary position, instead of the air…”

“It was all SO much fun and I honestly can’t stop laughing when I think about this dance. It’s been one of my favourites this series and a big shout out to the choreographers, I have loved working with you.”


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