Strictly Come Dancing viewers and stars have thrown their support behind Nadiya Bychkova after the professional dancer shared her “disappointment” in not having a partner this year.
A favourite among Strictly fans, Ukrainian dancer Bychkova joined the BBC competition series in 2017. She is often paired with the tallest male celebrities competing.
She has competed in every series since, but was reportedly left “fuming” after learning she would not be coupled up with a celebrity on the 2023 series.
Strictly’s 21st series launched on Saturday (16 September), during which it was confirmed that Bychkova, 34, was not in a couple. You can find out who’s dancing with who on Strictly 2023 here.
As the pre-recorded launch show aired on Saturday, Bychkova addressed her absence from the celebrity pairings for the first time.
Posting a photo of herself decked out in a glittering costume from the launch show, the 34-year-old wrote on Instagram: “I’m sure you’ll understand that I’m disappointed not to be partnered with a celebrity on @bbcstrictly this series.”
She continued: “It is an amazing show to be a part of and I’m still so excited for all the group numbers, performing with some of our music acts and much much more.
“I’m also looking forward to supporting my fellow pros and I want to wish all the couples the best of luck for the competition this year.”
Bychkova was supported by her former celebrity partner Dan Walker, who danced with her in 2021.
The former BBC Breakfast host wrote: “No one puts the Yorkshire Barmaid in a corner. Keep shining, partner.” His comment referenced a clip from 2021 in which he filmed Bychkova pretending to serve him a pint while speaking in a dubious Yorkshire accent.
Walker previously spoke out in support of Bychkova when reports claimed she would not compete this year.
Walker said he was “gutted” by the rumours, comparing it to “putting Messi on the bench for the World Cup final”.
Also supporting Bychkova on her recent post was Kai Widdrington, her fellow Strictly pro and boyfriend.
Widdrington, who is competing with newsreader Angela Rippon in the 2023 competition, wrote: “Always shining bright.”
“Sending you love and hugs,” added former Strictly professional dancer Oti Mabuse.
“A very dignified comment from a beautiful lady,” one commenter wrote. “You dance with your heart and soul and are an exquisitely beautiful dancer. Such a shame but keep shining bright.”
One fan wrote that they were “gutted” for Bychkova, while another questioned: “Why were you not paired with anyone? You are one of my absolute favourites. You will be missed!”
Strictly Come Dancing continues Saturday 23 September at 6.15pm on BBC One.