He may have bid farewell to Strictly Come Dancing after four years on the show, but AJ Pritchard is not hanging up his dancing shoes just yet.
The 25-year-old has partnered up with his little brother, 24-year-old Love Island star Curtis Pritchard, to raise money for the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic with #DressUpDanceDonate – encouraging the nation to dress up, dance a routine and donate on Sunday April 5.
And post-Strictly, AJ is planning to combine his presenting and dancing skills in a bid to become the next Sir Bruce Forsyth.
Speaking exclusively to the Evening Standard, he explained: “I want to bring that side of the business back to fruition.
“Sir Bruce Forsyth, God rest his soul, he could dance, he could entertain, he could do whatever was asked of him. I want to be one of those old-fashioned entertainers.”
News that AJ was leaving Strictly Come Dancing behind was a shock for long-standing fans of the BBC One dancing contest, particularly as he had previously been confirmed for the upcoming 18th series of the programme.
But AJ, who was partnered with YouTube sensation Saffron Barker last series, said he felt “drained” from the show’s intense filming period.
“I hadn’t had a day off in like 10 months,” he explained. “I think a lot of people were surprised. You have to take that leap, you have to be happy if you don’t feel everything is going the way you want your career to go.
“I’ve done my four years, I’m very happy, and I’m very happy with where I’m going now.”
AJ added he will be working a lot more with his brother Curtis, with the pair taking inspiration from fan favourites Ant and Dec.
“One hundred per cent this is our time to work together,” AJ said.
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“We’ve been doing so many variety of things, so many opportunities have come since I’ve decided not to do Strictly anymore. It’s overwhelming, actually!”
Curtis continued: “What Ant and Dec do is just fantastic. They’re magical on the TV, how they work. If we could be like that, we’ll be happy.”
In the meantime, the pair are putting their energies into #DressUpDanceDonate, with the NHS meaning a lot to the brothers – having operated on Curtis following an attack in a nightclub in 2018.
“The NHS have helped us out in the past,” Curtis said. “So we thought, how can we help NHS which is doing such an incredible job going over and above to help fight Covid-19? How can we help them [by] doing something, while we’re at home isolated? We thought let’s create a little dance routine, let’s get everybody to dress up, have fun, raise money, for an incredible cause.”
To donate or find out more, visit: https://virg.in/NHSDanceAndDonate