Janette Manrara on ‘hardest goodbye’ of exiting Strictly dancefloor

Janette Manrara has said it was the “hardest goodbye” to step down as a professional on Strictly Come Dancing to replace Zoe Ball as host of spin-off It Takes Two.

The dancer and choreographer, 37, will share hosting duties with Rylan Clark-Neal on the weeknight sister show after Ball stood down as presenter in May after a decade on the programme.

Manrara told Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine: “I’m so excited, I’ve been a fan of Zoe Ball and It Takes Two since year one when I joined Strictly nine years ago now.

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“I remember walking into the studio and thinking ‘This is the best job in the world, you get to sit down and talk about dancing. I would love to do that some day’.

“So the day has come and I’m honestly so honoured and so excited.”

Asked if she will still be able to take part in the professional routines when the show returns, Manrara said: “No, unfortunately once you say goodbye to that legendary dancefloor, you’ve said goodbye to the dancefloor.

“I’ve said that it was the easiest yes to say yes to doing It Takes Two but the hardest goodbye, the thought of having to say goodbye to the Strictly floor.

Strictly Come Dancinig 2013
Janette Manrara and Julien Macdonald (Guy Levy/BBC)

“I’m still really incredible friends with every single one of my partners, I literally yesterday had lunch with Julien Macdonald (the fashion designer), who was my partner from 2013.

“I’ve created some amazing memories and then the professionals, that is a whole other level of friendship, they are like my family here really, but I will get to see them either way.”

Manrara added she has particularly missed dancing during the pandemic, saying: “Lockdown 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, they have been really, really hard because I miss dancing so, so much, but luckily Strictly went forward and luckily I had a phenomenal partner in HRVY (the pop star) where I got to do some amazing routines.

Strictly Come Dancing 2020
HRVY and Janette Manrara (Guy Levy/BBC)

“But Aljaz (Skorjanec, her husband and Strictly professional) and I are still going to be touring next year and of course I’m going to try and sneak in somehow, in some shape or form, to be involved with the show dance-wise, maybe I will bring dancing to It Takes Two.”

Strictly Come Dancing and It Takes Two will return to the BBC in the autumn.