STRICTLY Come Dancing professional Neil Jones made a pointed dig at show bosses last night as he celebrated being “off the bench” after a four-year wait.
This is the first year Neil has been given a celebrity dance partner after being sidelined in previous series.
Ready and waiting in the wings, Neil jumped at the chance to be part of the main show as he was paired up with footballer Alex Scott.
Host Claudia Winkleman said to him: “Four years you’ve had to wait…”
“I’ve been waiting,” Neil said.
“But it’s been worth the wait. Finally I’m off the bench, I’m off the bench.”
Neil joined the BBC One dance show in 2016, but has been a reserve ever since.
He stepped into the limelight this series at the expense of show favourite Gorka Marquez, 28.
Neil got the nod over Gorka because the Spanish star is not tall enough for many of this year’s female celebrities.
The 37-year-old is celebrating his work promotion amid problems in his personal life.
Last month he revealed he’s splitting from his wife of six years and Strictly dance partner Katya Jones.
She has been reinstated into the main professional dancer line-up despite her indiscretion with Seann Walsh last year.
The pair were caught snogging behind their partners’ backs after a boozy night in the pub.
She apologised on spin-off show It Takes Two four days after the kiss during a joint appearance with comic Seann.
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Neil stood by his wife at the time, but announced in a joint statement ahead of this series: “Hi everyone. As our fans and loyal supporters you are really important to us and so we wanted to let you know some news. After 11 years we have made the mutual decision to separate.
“We will always love each other, just in a different way as friends. This will never change what a great team we make and we are really proud of everything we have achieved together.
“Our shared love of dance means we will keep working and dancing together as well as exploring individual projects. No matter what we do we will always support and respect each other.
“We wish one another every happiness and we will remain the best of friends. We are really looking forward to getting back to the ballroom and can’t wait to keep on dancing. Lots of love from us both xx”.
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