Strictly star admits not one pro dancer wanted Ore Oduba before show win

Strictly Come Dancing: Joanne Clifton dances with Ore Oduba

According to former Strictly Come Dancing professional Joanne Clifton, “no one wanted to be partnered up with Ore Oduba”, even though he went on to win the 2016 series of the show.

She has claimed the BBC presenter was not seen as a desirable partner to begin with for one simple reason.

“In a loving way, not one professional dancer wanted Ore to begin with,” she said. “When I was on the show, most of the dancers were based in London, and the studios are in London, but we have to go and rehearse wherever the celebrity lives.

“That year, Ore was the only celebrity who wasn’t in London, he was in Manchester, so we were all wanting anyone but him.”

Joanne, who spoke candidly in a new interview with Betway, continued: “Before we were partnered up, we did a lot of dancing together as a group and you swapped partners a lot, but I was never once put with Ore so I was convinced I wasn’t going to be his partner.

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“But when I was chosen as Ore’s partner, I remember we instantly connected. When they called out our names together, we did this dance towards each other, and from that moment, I went, ‘Yes. This is going to work.’ We just clicked.”

Speaking of the moment when the pair went on to bag the coveted Glitterball, she said: “It’s crazy because whenever another professional has won, for example, Oti, they all look absolutely beautiful and elegant.

“When we won, the shock on my face was incredible. I had 17 double chins, and a picture of my reaction became a meme. We did not expect it at all. I was in shock to the point where I couldn’t even smile.”

But despite the jubilation, Newsround presenter Ore, 37, said that following his Strictly triumph his marriage suffered. The star became extremely busy after winning. 

He performed in a 12-month long appearance on the Rocky Horror Show, as well as starring in the UK tour of Grease.

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“From a work perspective, it was amazing, an incredible job,” he said of the world tour. “But at home it was a difficult chapter to negotiate,” he told OK! Magazine.

The star married his wife Portia in 2015, a year before joining Strictly. They now have two children together, son Roman, four, and daughter Genie, who will be one in October.

Speaking to the publication, he said he didn’t realise the effect his work schedule would have on his home life.

“I had a romantic view of parenting before I became a dad,” he said. “I thought, ‘We’ll go on holidays all the time and it will be hunky dory and rosy, but actually it’s very difficult to juggle everything.’”

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