Alja Škorjanec reportedly received messages from BBC bosses, who hoped he would save the upcoming series of Strictly Come Dancing following Giovanni Pernice's departure.

The 34-year-old was delighted to announce his return to the BBC programme, two years after revealing he was stepping down as a professional dancer.

Meanwhile, Giovanni was notably absent from the 2024 line-up. His exit came after the BBC launched an investigation into his behaviour on the show.

The 33-year-old has denied any allegations of threatening behaviour made by three of his former partners, including Amanda Abbington.

BBC bosses were believed to be blindsided by Giovanni pursuing projects away from Strictly, with a source revealing the show had planned to welcome him back with "open arms".

His sudden absence meant BBC bosses were scrambling to find a replacement - and hiring a new professional dancer was too out of reach.

"As far as bosses were concerned, Giovanni would be welcomed back with open arms," an insider told The Mirror. "So they were blindsided."

The source added: "At that stage, they did not have enough time to go through the months of research and auditions necessary to recruit a new professional dancer. So the idea to bring back Alja was born and thankfully he was happy to step in at the last minute and save the day."

After nine years as a professional dancer, Alja announced he had quit Strictly. He went on to welcome a baby girl with his wife and former Strictly pro Janette Manrara.

Nearly one year after the birth of his daughter, Alja announced his return on The One Show. Of his return, Alja excitedly said: "I could not be more ecstatic to be back with the Strictly family! This year is such a special one for this legendary show, I can't wait to be a part of it and make my return to the dancefloor.

"I had an absolute ball during my nine-year stint on Strictly, during my time away I became a parent, which has been an exciting challenge in itself and now I'm ready to experience the Strictly magic again."

He added: "It feels so right to be coming back, I missed the fun, glitter and the judges of course and I hope to make my daughter Lyra proud!"

2024-07-10T07:01:11Z dg43tfdfdgfd