Connie Evans, PA Entertainment Reporter
Ashley Banjo has said “sometimes after so many years people just move in different directions” as he announced he has split from his wife Francesca Abbott.
The 34-year-old dancer rose to fame as the leader of dance troupe Diversity who won the third series of Britain’s Got Talent.
Banjo shared the news in a post on his Instagram story on Thursday, writing: “After much thought and consideration we both feel now is the time to share some personal news.
“Nearly 18 months ago we took the difficult decision to separate. After being together for over 16 years, since we were teenagers, this is not a decision that has been taken lightly.
“It has not been easy and the processing of the situation has not been fast by any means. But we feel that as we approach the new year it is the time to share this news with others.
“Our main focus will always be our beautiful children. Every decision that has been made is to make sure we can continue as a loving family and give the very best of ourselves as parents.
“Rose and Micah in a happy and healthy environment is the most important thing to both of us.
“Sometimes after so many years people just move in different directions, but we do so lovingly and we continue to try and be both the best parents possible and the best of friends to each other.
“We have always been private with our personal lives, so we kindly ask that everyone please continue to respect that privacy. We won’t be making any further comment on the situation.
“Thank you… Lots of love, Ash and Chess x”
Abbott, who works as a member of the dance troupe’s management team, posted the same statement to her Instagram story.
The couple announced their engagement in October 2014 and wed the following year. They share two children, daughter Rose and son Micha.
Following their BGT win, Diversity toured the UK, playing to growing crowds, while Banjo and his brother, Jordan Banjo, became regular TV presenters and panellists.
In August 2020, Banjo was announced as Simon Cowell’s replacement on the BGT judging panel after the music mogul injured himself riding an electric bike, bringing his career full circle.
June 2021 saw him front an ITV documentary exploring his own past and the civil rights movement in the UK for Black History Month.
Banjo was made an MBE in the 2022 New Year Honours for services to dance.