Strictly bosses convince Oti Mabuse to sign for another series despite flurry of offers to poach her

STRICTLY bosses will be doing a victory dance after persuading Oti Mabuse to stick with the show despite attempts to poach her.

Producers feared the popular South African dancer, 30, would be tempted to quit the BBC1 programme having already been headhunted by ITV as a panellist on The Masked Dancer.

But Oti — who won Strictly Come Dancing last year with underdog Bill Bailey, 56 — has agreed to remain on the juggernaut series for 2021, which will be aired this autumn.

A source said: “There was genuine worry that she might be tempted elsewhere as she’s so in demand.

“But Oti has agreed to take part this year, at least, and the bosses are delighted.

“She’s one of the most sought-after talents in telly at the moment.

“She’s looking forward to taking part and hopefully getting her hands on the Glitterball trophy once again.”

But Strictly bosses still face another headache as they remain short of two professional dancers for the new series.

The problem has existed since popular pair AJ Pritchard, 26, and Kevin Clifton, 38, both quit in quick succession before the 2020 series got under way.

Producers have had to make do in the meantime, but are still keen to fill the vacant slots.

The source added: “They need to get a couple of fresh faces in, but it’s been hard to find talent with Covid and the challenges that it brings.

“Ideally, it’ll be two new hunky blokes for viewers to fall in love with.

“They’re hoping to get someone fresh signed up before they start revealing who the celebrities are for 2021.”

Last year’s professional dancers — including Anton du Beke, 54, Nadiya Bychkova, 31, and Giovanni Pernice, 30 — are all returning after agreeing to sign new deals.

The show’s executive producer Sarah James said: “We are so thrilled to be welcoming back our incredible line-up of professional dancers for 2021.

“Their passion and dedication for Strictly shone through more than ever last year as they all sacrificed so much to deliver an unforgettable series during challenging times.

“With so much talent returning to the ballroom, the 2021 series promises more show-stopping choreography, memorable performances and world-class dancing.”

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