Brendan Cole has announced he's leaving Strictly Come Dancing

Strictly

Strictly

Professional dancer Brendan Cole has announced he is leaving Strictly Come Dancing after 14 years with the show.

The BBC said in a statement: "We'd like to thank Brendan Cole for being part of the show since the beginning - victor of the first series - and for the contribution he has made to its success".

Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC One in the autumn.

He told the Scottish presenter: "The BBC haven't renewed my contract".

Cole added that he wishes he had been able to make the decision himself although he doesn't know he would have ever made it because of his love for the show.

'I'm in a bit of shock at the moment, it's quite emotional, ' he said. "I'm a very strong character within the show, I have my strong views". It's very hard to talk about...

Over the years Cole has partnered with Fiona Phillips, Kelly Brook, Lulu, Kirsty Gallacher, Anastacia and more. Some do, some don't (like it). I'll miss being part of the team. "I'm quite emotional, a bit raw about it". As sorry as I am to not be asked back, I'm excited to see what the future brings'. "However I'm available for weddings, funerals and bar mitzvahs".

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'I have always said as long as I've got a passion for it, I want to be there.

As a Strictly devotee I've watched the show since day one and along the way we've lost lots of my favourite professional dancers.

"I would have preferred to have made the decision myself, but maybe I would never have made it because I love being on the show".

And from the outpouring of support from fans, fellow dancers and former partners, I'm not alone in thinking this. Cole defended Hawkins when the judges - especially head judge Shirley Ballas - made comments about her performance.

"We'd like to thank [Brendan] for being part of the show since the beginning - victor of the first series - and for the contribution he has made to its success".

"Wishing him all the best in his future endeavours".

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