Entertainment & Arts

Strictly Come Dancing professionals quit show

Matthew Cutler and Lilia Kopylova
Image caption Matthew Cutler and Lilia Kopylova have both steered celebrities to victory

Ballroom professionals Matthew Cutler and Lilia Kopylova are to quit Strictly Come Dancing, the BBC has announced.

The pair were among the dancers asked to perform together in a professional troupe, rather than with celebrities, in a change of format for the show.

Cutler, who won with Alesha Dixon in 2007, is to concentrate on running his own dancing school and may choreograph some routines on the programme.

Kopylova's husband Darren Bennett will become a member of the new dance group.

'Excited'

Ian Waite, who partnered athlete Jade Johnson in the most recent series of the show, has also been confirmed as part of the professional troupe.

Four new recruits - one male and three female - will be announced as the new series approaches later this year.

Dancer Brian Fortuna announced in June that he would not return to the programme due to format changes.

At the time, other professionals said they had yet to come to a decision about their future.

Cutler said: "I've absolutely loved my time on Strictly, and now is a good time to focus on developing new areas of my career.

"I'm excited about having more time to commit to new projects and, of course, still having a hand in Strictly without all the training!"

Russian-born Kopylova, who won the 2005 series with cricketer Darren Gough, said she would miss working on the show, but was "looking forward to new opportunities ahead".

"Of course I will be there to support Darren and all of my fellow professionals," she added.

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