AJ Pritchard shocked Strictly Come Dancing fans with his surprise departure - and he will never go back.

The professional dancer sent shockwaves through the show's loyal fanbase when he announced his decision to quit after four years in March.

"After four years on Strictly Come Dancing, AJ has decided the time is right to leave the show and follow his dreams to explore opportunities in the presenting world alongside his brother Curtis," a statement on Twitter read.

"AJ would like to thank the team at Strictly and everyone at the BBC for giving him such a brilliant opportunity."

"AJ would also like to send his love and gratitude to all who have followed him and supported his career. He is excited for you all to join him on the next chapter of his journey."

Behind-the-scenes, AJ actually felt it was a "relief to finally quit".

AJ quit Strictly after four years on the show

Part of the reason behind his decision to go was the gruelling 18-hour days, with AJ admitting Strictly ran him so ragged with its that he "had no life".

"It took up six months of my life, some days I would work 18-hour days because I was dancing and choreographing," he told the Sun. "I didn't have a life and I wanted to be able to do more."

AJ wanted to make a start on having his own personal TV brand alongside Curtis, his Love Island star brother, and had plans to become "the next Ant and Dec".

"I want to have my own brand and there were things I couldn't do because of the Strictly brand and the time involved," he went on.

AJ left to pursue new opportunities with Curtis

"I want to show people what I', about - not just, 'Here's my celebrity partner this year that I'm going to showcase'.

"I did have to turn down things in the past, which I was upset about sometimes, but I understood I was part of Strictly Come Dancing. Now I am going to pursue things I didn’t have the time for. It's the right move."

AJ felt that if he did not leave at that moment then he would regret it.

But it was his mum, Debi, who gave a greater insight into his decision to walk away from Strictly.

AJ's mum Debi spoke about his reasons for leaving

Weighing in on the reasons why AJ gave up his coveted slot on the show during an appearance on Lorraine in April this year, Debi declared her son needed to share his talents with the world.

When AJ spoke about his exciting new opportunities, his mum said: "We'll still always support Strictly Come Dancing, but we'll also support AJ and the decision that he's made.

"It is the right decision. His light is burning bright and he needs to use all that energy to explore."

Debi admitted it would help AJ "grow as a person" as he could share his talents with the public.

AJ claimed viewers "didn't see his true personality" on Strictly, which was a major reason why he signed up to I'm A Celebrity.

AJ wanted to show his true personality

Speaking before he went into the castle, he said viewers would finally see him for who he is with cameras filming him and his co-stars for 24 hours a day.

"I think what is nice for me, I get to be myself. I'm always myself on TV shows, but this is filmed 24/7, so you see my personality," said AJ.

"On Strictly you don't at all realistically, so I am excited.

"For me I am used to being on camera so much, I will just be myself and can't wait for people to see that."

*I'm A Celebrity airs tonight on ITV at 9pm