If you’ve watched any reality television over the last few years, I’m a Celebrity’s AJ Pritchard will be a familiar face: the professional dancer has appeared on everything from MasterChef to Strictly Come Dancing to Celebrity Hunted.
While he is best known for his four series on Strictly, where he partnered with stars including Mollie King and Claudia Fragapane, Pritchard shot to fame even earlier – as a contestant on Britain’s Got Talent in 2013. Working with his dance partner Chloe Hewitt, the pair reached the semi-finals.
Taking the lead from his brother Curtis, a professional dancer on the Irish version of Strictly Come Dancing and today best known for his stint on Love Island, Pritchard joined the UK’s Strictly in 2016.
Pritchard, 26, was originally announced as a participant in the currently-airing series of Strictly, the first to be filmed without a live studio audience due to Covid-19, but shocked fans by declaring his departure 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 read. “He is excited for you to all join him on the next chapter of his journey.”
While coronavirus curtailed his immediate plans to jump into TV presenting, I’m a Celebrity marks his first major gig in the wake of the dancing competition.
Speaking on the podcast he hosts with his brother, Pritchard confessed that food withdrawal may be a problem while in the jungle.
“If I’m hungry, I get very angry,” he explained. “If I don’t have caffeine, my coffee or my energy drink, I get even more angry. Then I like to snack, then I get more angry because I’ve had a snack.”
To prepare for his stint on the show, Pritchard endured 16 days of quarantine and decided to remove all sugar and caffeine from his diet. He also shook up his sleeping pattern, as he had become used to going to bed at 2am and not waking until 11 in the morning.
“I’m going to remove all the things I know I’ll have withdrawal symptoms from,” he continued. “I haven’t been going crazy.”
Despite his excitement, Pritchard’s participation in this year’s I’m a Celebrity was at first in doubt, after he tested positive for coronavirus weeks before he was due to fly to Wales to film the show.
Earlier this month, however, Pritchard confirmed that he had overcome his bout with the illness, and would “100 percent be going into the jungle”.
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Pritchard has reportedly been dating dancer Abbie Quinnen since last summer. The pair met when Quinnen was a dancer on Pritchard’s Get On The Floor Live tour.
Before the show’s launch, Quinnen wrote on Instagram: "Massive good luck to my best friend tonight @aj11ace can’t wait for the whole world to see how hilarious, kind, loving and extremely gorgeous you are!
"Go smash it! I will 100% be voting for you to do every single trial as your facial expressions and screaming is going to be absolutely priceless & we all need to laugh at the moment!
“Love you more than words can describe! I couldn’t be prouder.”
I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! airs nightly at 9pm on ITV.