On the opening night of Strictly Come Dancing, viewers were quick to notice that last year's winner Joe McFadden was absent. In tradition, the winner from the previous series returns to open the show, but after much talk, Joe has finally revealed the reason for his absence. Appearing on Thursday's Loose Women, Joe explained that he was at a wedding on the day of the show. On the claims that had suggested that he had refused to open the show, Joe hit back: "Nonsense, I was at my friend's wedding in Glasgow, Nigella was there, Richard Madden was there, reading and signing at my friend's wedding. Don't believe what you read in the papers."
Joe McFadden explained his reasons for missing the Strictly opening show
Ahead of the opening show, a spokesperson for Strictly confirmed to HELLO!: "We invite last year's winners back for an encore performance to kick-off the new series. However, sadly on this occasion Joe isn't able to perform." The Holby City actor won the 2017 series with Katya Jones, beating finalists Alexandra Burke, Debbie McGee and Gemma Atkinson. The 42-year-old was the oldest winner in the show's history. After host Tess Daly announced his name, Joe said: "Oh my goodness! It's completely surreal! We did it!" as he hugged his dance partner Katya.
Joe was crowned the 2017 winner with dance partner Katya Jones
This year, Joe's partner has been teamed with Sean Walsh. The pair performed a tango for their first dance on Saturday night's show, and fans were sympathetic after Sean was criticised for his appearance rather than his dancing abilities by the judges. Sean was supported by viewers and former Strictly dancer Brendan Cole. Writing in his Strictly column, the professional dancer said: "Sean came on and did a good tango, and if you are going to spend time talking about hair then you aren't really giving him the attention that he needs to go forward in the competition."
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