Strictly pro Joanne Clifton feared dancing with Judge Rinder after he joined BBC show

Pointless: Joanne Clifton reveals she may make Strictly return

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Joanne Clifton became a household name back in 2014 after being confirmed as a professional on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. However, just three years later, she made the decision to part ways with the show after winning the 14th season.

Oh my Gosh, I don’t know, I’ll probably be a bit scared’,

Joanne Clifton

The Grimsby-born star, who specialises in Latin and ballroom dancing as well as musical theatre, went on to take home the Glitterball trophy in 2017, before making the decision to leave the show on a high.

Her time on the hit BBC One show saw Joanne, 37, partnered with BBC Radio One’s Scott Mills, presenter Ore Oduba and McFly drummer Harry Judd.

However, speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Joanne has admitted that upon hearing the news that ITV’s resident barrister, Robert Rinder, 42, had signed up to participate in Strictly, she had her doubts.

Robert, known on television as Judge Rinder, competed in the 2014 series of the show alongside Oksana Platero, with the pair leaving the competition in fifth place.

Sharing her thoughts, Joanne said: “The only one [celebrity] I’ve said to myself, ‘Oh my Gosh, I don’t know how I’d manage if I get him’ was Judge Rinder.

“Now, we’re great buds, I was literally texting him the other day, he’s the loveliest guy.”

Joanne added: “But when I first met him, I was like, ‘Oh my Gosh, I don’t know, I’ll probably be a bit scared’, but he’s so lovely.

“Apart from that moment there, I’ve never been worried about who I’d get.”

Joanne, who is currently starring in Eurobeat: The Pride of Europe which is filmed live from the stage of The Clapham Grand, admitted that she was over the moon to head back onto the stage.

The production sees her take on the role of a Lithuanian dancer, who offers a sobering face while showcasing dance moves that would normally have her beaming from ear to ear.

“They said, ‘Oh you’re going to represent Lithuania,’ and I thought, ‘OK, let’s go with it’,” she said.

Joanne went on to add that despite being in group numbers with other dancers, social distancing was practised, with the cast and crew all taking preventative measures to ensure there wouldn’t be an outbreak of coronavirus.

“It was so nice, I came out absolutely buzzing – the show itself, well, it’s just ridiculously amazing,” she told.

She went on to add: “The dance that we do, me and George Olney, we’re representing Lithuania and we do a song called This Is How I Dance.

“But, because we’re from Lithuania, we have no emotion, we don’t crack a smile and dancing, Oh my Gosh, it’s like the worst dance I’ve ever done in my life, it’s a little shoulder dance but so bad it’s amazing.”

The actress and singer continued: “We did a watch party with the cast and crew and I’ve not smiled like that in ages, it was just so much fun.”

Since bidding farewell to Strictly, Joanne has gone on to take the leading role of Millie Dillmount in the UK tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie in 2017, following in the footsteps of Amanda Holden and Donna Steele.

She has also gone on to teach dance to locals in her hometown of Grimsby, during the initial coronavirus lockdown between March and June of 2020,

In order to keep herself busy during the most recent lockdown, Joanne teamed up with former A1 singer, Ben Adams, to write their own musical, Bloody Nora, that had to be put on hold due to the theatre industry coming to a halt.

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