Fan-favourite Johannes Radebe nearly quit Strictly Come Dancing after he was paired with Annabel Croft during the 2023 series.

The professional dancer, who placed fourth after being partnered with the former tennis player, considered dropping out ahead of the series' first episode.

The BBC star revealed how he almost dismissed their partnership as they were still "raw" over their respective bereavements.

Johannes Radebe nearly quit Strictly Come Dancing after pairing with Annabel Croft

Appearing on the Table Manners podcast hosted by Jessie and Lennie Ware, Johannes Radebe expressed his previous reservations about working with her.

When asked about Annabel Croft's deep sadness at losing her 60-year-old husband Mel Coleman just months before signing up to take part in Strictly Come Dancing, he opened up about his own bereavement.

He said: "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 committed suicide."

Going on to discuss his emotions, the star added: "So, I didn't feel like... honestly I didn't feel like anything. Y'know, 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."

"I could have stayed out there for longer but after we buried him I had to fly back [to the UK] and do my audiobook. That was hard, and when Strictly started, I was just like, okay, just felt like I was going through the motions."

The Strictly Come Dancing star went on to describe how dealing with his personal life was difficult during the show, adding that he was sceptical about the partnership

He said: "And yeah, they said 'we think that you're the person to partner this woman'. And I just said to myself, 'they're reaching'."

He added: "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'."

However, he went on to share that despite his initial concerns about being partnered with the former athlete, she had "helped" him and suggested that they both "needed each other".

He finished by saying: "A lot of people say 'oh Johannes, you helped Annabel' but no, Annabel helped me."