AJ Pritchard's decision to quit Strictly Come Dancing this week sent shockwaves through the show's dedicated fanbase.

The 25-year-old professional dancer stood down from his position on the show's cast with a statement outlining his wish to go into telly presenting with younger brother Curtis Pritchard, who found fame on last summer's Love Island.

And AJ has now opened up about the real reason behind his decision, admitting Strictly ran him so ragged with its gruelling 18-hour days 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.

AJ wants him and brother Curtis to become the new Ant and Dec

"I didn't have a life and I wanted to be able to do more."

Now he and Curtis want to work on having their own TV brand and have set out 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.

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

The brothers want to develop their own TV brand

"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 added that it comes as a "relief to finally quit" and confessed he would regret not making the move now.

The talented dancer revealed the news in a statement released on Twitter earlier this week.

"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," it read.

AJ Pritchard is dating fellow dancer Abbie Quinnen

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

He added: "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."

During his time on the show, AJ has been partnered with YouTube sensation Saffron, Saturdays singer Mollie King and Paralympian Lauren Steadman.

AJ's last ever Strictly series was with YouTuber Saffron Barker

His first series in 2016 saw him reach the semi-final with actress Claudia Fragapane.

AJ's announcement comes days after he was forced to cancel his and Curtis' dancing tour due to coronavirus.

The brothers had been due to perform four more gigs on their AJ Live 2020 tour, which have now been postponed until further notice.