Joanne was shocked by the news Darcey was leaving the BBC1 hit

If you were surprised to hear that Dame Darcey Bussell is leaving Strictly Come Dancing after seven sparkling years, you’re not alone, as the news also shook the world of ballroom.

“I didn’t expect it,” ex-Strictly pro Joanne Clifton, a winner in 2016, told TV Times. “My brother Kev [reigning winner Kevin Clifton] and I were with Darcey at the Olivier Awards days before the announcement and nothing was mentioned.

“I texted Kev asking if it was a hoax, and he was as shocked as me.”

Currently touring in The Rocky Horror Show, Jo thinks Strictly’s bosses have a tough task ahead finding a replacement.

“Darcey will be terribly missed. She was always lovely, and the judge you knew you’d get a nice comment from even if she criticised you,” says Jo. “They’ll need a good ’un to replace her.”

Dame Darcey Bussell quits Strictly Come Dancing

Could Joanne take over Darcey’s Strictly Come Dancing judging duties?

Jo has extensive dance competition experience, so would she fancy sitting between Shirley Ballas and Craig Revel Horwood herself?

“An ex-pro could be good, because we know how it feels. I’d definitely be up for it!” she smiles. “I’d bring something younger. My expertise is ballroom, whereas Shirley’s a Latin specialist and Craig and Bruno Tonioli are about showmanship.

“I’d be nice but pernickety about technique, and I’d tell Kev he’s rubbish – he can’t win again!”

Main picture: REX/Shutterstock