Oti Mabuse Reveals The Reason She Decided To Quit Strictly Come Dancing

"When you know it’s time to go, you know."
Oti Mabuse
Oti Mabuse
Jim Dyson via Getty Images

Oti Mabuse has opened up about her decision to leave Strictly Come Dancing, revealing she actually made the decision before the start of last year’s series.

The professional dancer announced she would be leaving the BBC ballroom show after seven series last month.

In an interview with You magazine, Oti explained she’d wanted to leave Strictly at “the peak” and while she was still happy on the show.

Admitting she “cried for hours” when she told bosses last year that the 2021 series would be her last, Oti said: “When I came to Britain I said to myself, ’My dream is to win Strictly.′ And I have, and it was such an amazing seven years, but I’ve done what I needed to do.

“I feel so emotional. I lived my best life on that show and it gave me the career I have now, but you need to know when it’s the right time to get off that wave and try new things.”

Oti and Billy Bailey were crowned winners of Strictly Come Dancing 2020
Oti and Billy Bailey were crowned winners of Strictly Come Dancing 2020
Guy Levy/BBC via PA Media

She continued: “I didn’t want to hold on and get to the point where I wasn’t happy any more. I left when I was at the peak, in terms of working on the show. It feels like I’m leaving family behind – even the backstage team, the people viewers don’t get to see – but when you know it’s time to go, you know.”

Oti also said that there was an “emotional” moment following last year’s final, where all the cast gathered round her to say goodbye, having had to adhere to social distancing rules throughout the series’ run, as not to derail the show with a Covid outbreak.

She also shared her joy at seeing fellow pro Giovanni Pernice lift the Glitterball trophy with Rose Ayling-Ellis in the final.

“We started on Strictly together and I got to see him win, which was so nice. And it meant so much to the nation to see Rose win as well,” she said. “For me, the chapter closed at the right time with the right person. It was beautiful. And it felt right.”

Oti with some of her former fellow Strictly dancers
Oti with some of her former fellow Strictly dancers
Mike Marsland via Getty Images

During her time on the show, Oti became the only professional dancer to ever win two consecutive years, thanks to her performances with soap star Kelvin Fletcher and comic Bill Bailey.

Since Strictly finished last year, Oti has been seen on the judging panel Dancing On Ice, which concludes its latest series this weekend.

She has been trying her hand at presenting, with guest hosting roles on Morning Live and Steph’s Packed Lunch, and has been announced as the host of new ITV dating show Romeo & Duet.


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