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Zoe Ball’s replacement on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two revealed

Zoe Ball is leaving It Takes Two (Ian West/PA)
Zoe Ball is leaving It Takes Two (Ian West/PA)

Strictly Come Dancing’s Janette Manrara is stepping down as a professional partner to replace Zoe Ball as host of BBC Two spin-off It Takes Two, it has been announced.

The American dancer and choreographer, 37, will share hosting duties with Rylan Clark-Neal, who debuted last year, on the weeknight sister show.

Ball stood down as presenter in May after a decade on the programme, having replaced Claudia Winkleman in 2011.

Manrara’s new role means she is leaving Strictly and new professional dancers for 2021 will be announced in due course.

Announcing the news on BBC One’s The One Show, she said: “I will not be dancing. I don’t want to well up because I have been welling up a lot today, but that has been the hardest part of accepting this amazing honour to join It Takes Two.

“It’s the realisation that I will not be on that legendary Strictly dancefloor anymore. But I feel that this is most beautiful and natural progression.

“I am still a part of the Strictly family, I am still going to be seeing my fellow pros all the time and I will keep dancing as they say. I will find a way to keep dancing.”

Janette Manrara with singer HRVY in 2020
Janette Manrara with singer HRVY in 2020 (BBC/PA)

She added: “I honestly have to say I am just so excited to be given this opportunity. The quote that keeps coming to mind when I think about it is, ‘All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them’. Walt Disney said that.

“My mum and my dad at home and my family back in Miami, they were immigrants from a small Cuban family, they came over and now their daughter is hosting a huge dance show here in the UK.

“They couldn’t be prouder. I couldn’t feel more privileged to be sharing this with such an awesome group of people.”

Manrara joined Strictly in 2013 and made her debut dancing with Welsh fashion designer Julien MacDonald.

She later partnered with Jake Wood (2014), Peter Andre (2015), Melvin Odoom (2016), Aston Merrygold (2017), Dr Ranj Singh (2018), Will Bayley (2019) and last year (2020) with HRVY.

She reached week 10 twice, in 2017 and 2015.

It Takes Two’s executive producer Eve Winstanley said: “We are so excited that Janette will be Cha Cha Cha-ing her way into the It Takes Two family.

“Her love and passion for all things dance will bring something new and fresh to the show.”

Alex McLeod, commissioning editor for BBC daytime and early peak, said: “We know that our viewers are avid fans of Strictly and cannot get enough expert advice, backstage gossip and dancing tips and tricks.

“I can’t think of anyone better than Janette to do this. I am so excited that she is joining our It Takes Two family.”

Strictly: It Takes Two will return to BBC Two in autumn.

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