Strictly star Johannes Radebe on Loose Women and Annabel Croft on Lorraine

Johannes Radebe explains why he almost quit main Strictly line-up after Annabel Croft pairing

Johannes suffered a heartbreaking family loss

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Johannes Radebe has opened up about his stint on Strictly Come Dancing last year and why he almost said no to his pairing with Annabel Croft.

Johannes and Annabel were a dream pairing on the 2023 series of Strictly and fans fell in love with their partnership on the show. They ended up leaving the competition at the semi-final stage.

However, the professional dancer has now said he almost didn’t go through with having a partner last year.

Strictly stars Annabel Croft and Johannes Radebe on Loose Women
Johannes said he almost said no to having a partner on Strictly last year (Credit: ITV)

Johannes Radebe on Strictly partnership with Annabel Croft

Speaking on the Table Manners podcast, Johannes explained: “When they said I’m dancing with her, I was like, what are they trying to achieve? And I say that because two weeks before I started, I buried my cousin who [took his own life].

So you can imagine when they said the partners I was just like ‘ok great’.

“I didn’t feel like anything, I wasn’t as excited as I normally would be, because I was like, this is supposed to be the most exciting period, I’ve just come back off a very successful tour. But I had to then go home [South Africa].

“I could have stayed out there for longer but after we buried him, I had to fly back and do my audiobook.”

Johannes Radebe looking down on Loose Women
Johannes said he buried his cousin before Strictly last year (Credit: ITV)

Johannes went on: “That was hard, and when Strictly started, I was just like, okay, just felt like I was going through the motions.

“So you can imagine when they said the partners I was just like ‘ok great’. I just really wanted to deal with it but you never allow yourself the time to deal with whatever you are going through in your life.”

The star added: “And yeah, they said we think that you’re the person to partner [with] this woman. I just said to myself, they’re reaching. I remember calling my agent, I was like, ‘I don’t know what’s trying to happen. Maybe we should say that I shouldn’t get a partner this year because I just really need some time out.'”

Johannes Radebe and Annabel Croft at Pride of Britain Awards
Johannes and Annabel reached the Strictly semi-final last year (Credit Photo Brett D. Cove/

Annabel Croft husband

Annabel had also suffered a heartbreaking loss last year after her husband, Mel, died from cancer.

Johannes admitted on the podcast: “I mean, a lot of people say, ‘Oh Johannes, you helped Annabel’ but no, Annabel helped me.”

Read more: Strictly star Johannes Radebe confirms his life story is being made into a movie: ‘Thank you for making my dreams a reality’

Last year, Annabel opened up about Mel’s death. She told This Morning in November: “I’m not quite sure where I would be at if I hadn’t had this opportunity to dance with Johannes. It has been a horrific year.

“This was never meant to be how life was going to be – I thought I had a future with my husband.”

She added: “I miss him terribly. I so want to speak to him about what we’re doing. I miss his humour.”

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Rebecca Carter
Associate Editor (News)