Sorry dahlings, that kiss was Katya’s fault

The part­ner who tamed him. Their plans for par­ent­hood. The truth about his abu­sive fa­ther — and THAT Strictly scan­dal. To launch his mem­oirs in the Mail next week, Craig Revel Hor­wood gets a 10 for can­dour!

Daily Mail - - PETER OBORNE - by Re­becca Hardy

CRAIG REVEL HOR­WOOD is not sure he’s cut out to be a par­ent. ‘I don’t know whether my life­style is right to bring up a child. Friends of mine have adopted and you’re so scru­ti­nised.

‘The adop­tion agen­cies want to know what you eat, what you drink, how many you smoke. I’d have to make some proper life­style changes, wouldn’t I dar­ling?’ he says, as he flops back into his white leather sofa, cig­a­rette in hand. ‘But we’ve def­i­nitely talked about it and thought about it.’

‘We’ is Craig, 53, and his hor­ti­cul­tur­al­ist boyfriend of seven months, Jonathan Myring, 33, who is mov­ing into the waspish Strictly judge’s spec­tac­u­lar coun­try pile in Hamp­shire on the day we meet.

Jonathan is a thor­oughly like­able soul who gets his kicks from rare plants with un­pro­nounce­able names rather than spray tan and Ly­cra. Take when Craig pre­sented him with a con­fi­den­tial­ity agree­ment on their first date.

‘I signed it, then wrote my own on a nap­kin,’ Jonathan tells me. ‘If I have to spend an ex­tended amount of time with any re­al­ity Tv stars from Chelsea or Es­sex you owe me £100 mil­lion.’ Craig took it and signed it ‘Gemma Collins’, re­fer­ring to The only Way Is Es­sex’s larger-than-life diva.

Jonathan, who trained at Kew Gar­dens, turns his at­ten­tion to a packet of trav­eller’s palm seeds that has just ar­rived. He says the seeds will even­tu­ally grow into ‘two big d-shaped fans like the show­girls wear’. Given they take seven years to ma­ture, Jonathan is clearly here for the long haul. Will they marry?

‘Yes, but there’s been no pro­posal,’ says Craig. ‘I think you’ve to­tally got to know it’s go­ing to work, but his clothes have just gone in the wardrobe. Lit­er­ally.’

HIS seven-bed­room home, set in more than seven acres of land, is — to bor­row a phrase from him — ‘ truly fab-u-lous’. For­get flag­stones and shabby chic, this place knocks the most flam­boy­ant of Strictly sets into a cocked hat with its glit­ter­ball stat­ues and glit­ter . . . well, ev­ery­thing, re­ally. Even the floor in the guest loo lights up.

How­ever, there is also a sense of calm that makes you want to sign a con­fi­den­tial­ity agree­ment and stay.

‘In Lon­don, ev­ery­thing is fast. Ev­ery­one gets bored re­ally quickly and moves onto the next per­son re­ally quickly,’ says Craig.

‘I got sick of that life­style — con­stantly go­ing out, air kisses. You al­ways have to be vig­i­lant; al­ways be aware there’s some­one with a phone tak­ing a pho­to­graph.’

It’s ad­vice co­me­dian Seann Walsh and his pro­fes­sional Strictly part­ner Katya Jones might have been wise to heed: a video of them shar­ing a pas­sion­ate, drunken smooch emerged last week.

For any­one who’s some­how missed the scan­dal, Katya is mar­ried to fel­low dancer Neil, and Seann was promptly dumped by his girl­friend of five years, ac­tress Re­becca Humphries. ‘Per­son­ally, I think Katya was in the wrong,’ says Craig, with char­ac­ter­is­tic blunt­ness. ‘She should have put a stop to it be­cause she’s a pro­fes­sional dancer.

‘It’s her job not only to pro­tect her own re­la­tion­ship, but to pro­tect the celebrity’s and be the men­tor. I think she broke pro­to­col over that. She should never have al­lowed it to hap­pen.

‘And, of course, she’s mar­ried and her hus­band Neil is on Strictly.’ Craig clearly feels huge sym­pa­thy for the poor man.

‘[Tonight] will be tough for Seann and Katya, and Neil. That’s where the awk­ward part of this whole sce­nario lies as they’re the ones who have to face the mu­sic.

‘They’re the ones who have to go on and do the dance of shame. It’s like go­ing to a Christ­mas party and you snog the boss. You still have to come to work on Mon­day if you want the job.

‘Peo­ple talk about the Strictly Curse, but this hap­pens in ev­ery pro­fes­sion. Yes, when you’re danc­ing you’re up close and per­sonal for eight hours a day and you get used to be­ing tac­tile — to hold­ing hands, hug­ging, kiss­ing — but it’s act­ing.

‘At the end of the day you down tools and go home to your part­ner. You don’t have to fall in love or have sex with each other.

‘Gen­er­ally, when peo­ple have af­fairs there is some­thing wrong with their re­la­tion­ship, oth­er­wise it wouldn’t hap­pen. If you’re hell-bent on be­ing with some­one, you wouldn’t let any­thing jeop­ar­dise that, whether it’s al­co­hol-in­duced or not.

‘Look, I wasn’t there. They’ve been filmed kiss­ing, which is not on re­ally, but they’ve both apol­o­gised and they’re danc­ing [tonight].

‘The au­di­ence will ei­ther vote to keep them or make up their minds not to. They have to be pro­fes­sional and get on with the job they’re con­tracted to do. I’ll be judg­ing them on their danc­ing in the Charleston and whether or not they have chem­istry.’

Hang on Craig. Chem­istry? Clearly they score four tens for that. ‘There’s a lot more phys­i­cal­ity one has to master on Strictly Come danc­ing than just a snog in a pub,’ he says, with a sort of thank-good­ness-I’m-away-from-that-life look on his face.

‘When you’re here the pace is much slower. I thought no one would visit and it would be lonely, but I see more of my friends be­cause they’re all try­ing to es­cape Lon­don,’ he says.

‘There’s no one to judge you here. There’s no mal­ice. I had one party this sum­mer where we all played cro­quet in drag. I had to do a phone in­ter­view that day so I was sat here in a twin set and pearls with a big pony­tail stick­ing out of my head, watch­ing my friends play­ing cro­quet on the lawn.

‘I thought, “If this jour­nal­ist knew what I looked like, they’d laugh.” It’s fun. It’s lovely. Fi­nally ev­ery­thing is com­ing to­gether.’

He looks gen­uinely happy. Cer­tainly more so than when we spoke af­ter the pub­li­ca­tion of his sec­ond au­to­bi­og­ra­phy five years ago.

BACK then he wor­ried him­self half sick over whether or not he would ‘come over well’. You knew he was try­ing so hard to be happy, but wasn’t.

‘Jonathan’s made such a dif­fer­ence,’ he says. ‘He’s brought love and life back into the house. There are plants grow­ing ev­ery­where now and they’re all real. Nor­mally ev­ery­thing is fake.

‘He wasn’t a Strictly fan at all, re­ally. We dis­cussed it when we first met. He said, “I’m a bit of a bookworm.” I said, “That’s great. I’ve got plenty of books.” He’s gor­geous and . . .’

Craig gushes rather like, well, his

fel­low judge Bruno To­nioli. ‘He ticks all the boxes and he’s bloody lovely with it.’

‘ He’ also wants to adopt a child. ‘I to­tally sup­port it if that’s what he wants, and I’d be a lov­ing dad. I’m not against it. In fact, I en­cour­age peo­ple to do it. There are so many kids who need lov­ing fam­i­lies, who have been caught in abu­sive homes.’

Sud­denly Craig looks vul­ner­a­ble. For he un­der­stands, only too well, the scars of an abu­sive child­hood. ‘It’s taken me un­til now to get my­self to­gether and dis­cover, ac­tu­ally, I am a nice per­son,’ he says.

Craig’s fa­ther, Phil, a for­mer lieu­tenant in the Royal Aus­tralian Navy, was an abu­sive al­co­holic who made the lives of Craig’s mother Bev­er­ley and his three sis­ters and brother sheer hell.

He doc­u­mented some of these drunken rages in the first two of his three au­to­bi­ogra­phies All Balls And Glit­ter (2008) and Tales From The Dance Floor (2013). But it is only now, since his fa­ther died from al­co­hol poi­son­ing three years ago, that he is able to talk freely. That death, shortly be­fore Christ­mas 2015, and its im­pact, is told with deft poignancy in Craig’s third au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, In Strictest Con­fi­dence, which will be se­ri­alised in the Daily Mail next week. ‘I think it [the death] is free­ing in a way,’ says Craig. ‘You can be your­self with­out the fear your dad is go­ing to come down on you. He can’t harm me any more — only in thought and only if I al­low it. He used to call me “lazy bas­tard” and chase me round the house. ‘He hit me once and I fell back­wards off the fence, but that phys­i­cal abuse doesn’t hurt as much as the men­tal tor­ture — the fact you can’t bring any­one home be­cause of him. We used to have to go to the fridge to get his beer as he wouldn’t get out of his chair. Af­ter the sev­enth beer, that’s when the rant­ing would start, un­til he fell asleep. ‘He con­stantly called my poor mum a cab­bage. Ev­ery time I hear the word “cab­bage” now — even if I cut one up — I think of him and the way he used to say that to her. ‘The kitchen knife used to come out at times as well. It was hor­rific. ‘When he wasn’t drink­ing he was funny, adorable, a lovely man, but as soon as he had a drink he be­came wildly abu­sive and de­mand­ing.’ Craig didn’t go to Aus­tralia for his fa­ther’s fu­neral. He was ap­pear­ing in a pan­tomime of Peter Pan as Cap­tain Hook, so par­tic­i­pated via Skype. De­spite their un­easy re­la­tion­ship, he sobbed his eyes out as he watched the ser­vice. Later, when his fam­ily for­warded some of his fa­ther’s pa­per­work, he dis­cov­ered his dad had taken out an in­surance pol­icy on his life, which he had paid into for 20 years. In short, Craig’s fa­ther was gam­bling upon his son’s death. ‘I couldn’t believe he’d done that,’ says Craig, look­ing gen­uinely wounded. ‘It was the early Eight­ies so a lot of peo­ple were dy­ing from Aids. He was, I sup­pose, think­ing I’d die sooner rather than later be­cause of my life­style — be­cause I was openly out. I felt slightly be­trayed, in a way, that he would get the pay­out. Find­ing that pol­icy was an­other nail in his cof­fin for me. I sup­pose it made it eas­ier to deal with his death.’

Craig pauses to go to make us drinks (in a kitchen with a glit­tery floor, nat­u­rally). In the flesh, tele­vi­sion’s Mr Nasty is, in fact, as big­hearted as any show­busi­ness per­son­al­ity I have met. When he re­turns with two cups of cof­fee, he is de­ter­mined to find the good in his fa­ther’s ac­tions.

‘I sup­pose he may have been think­ing it would pay for my fu­neral costs and any debts I might have had,’ he says. ‘He did love us, but he had a funny way of show­ing it.

‘It was won­der­ful when he came back from be­ing on tour [with the Navy]. We al­ways looked for­ward to the presents. Once we got a bike each. It was amaz­ing, but that joy was lim­ited, as we knew what would hap­pen af­ter the sev­enth bot­tle.

‘I think you carry the abuse with you. You just have to com­part­men­talise it, but feel­ings don’t dis­ap­pear. Even if you love some­one and they’ve done you wrong, you still love them. I find it dif­fi­cult to hate some­one and you tend to for­give.

‘I think that’s very im­por­tant. I don’t want to har­bour that [mis­ery] all my life. I’ve planted a gar­den in my dad’s mem­ory. Jonathan helped me do that.’

Craig met Jonathan on Tin­der when he was all but de­spair­ing of set­tling down again. His re­la­tion­ship with Bri­tain’s Got Tal­ent pup­peteer Da­mon Scott, which lasted for just over two years, ended in 2016, amidst Da­mon’s Sun­day news­pa­per claims that Craig’s life ‘re­volved around al­co­hol’.

‘That was dis­ap­point­ing,’ says Craig, who now en­sures ev­ery­one in his life, even close friends, signs con­fi­den­tial­ity agree­ments. ‘It’s a mat­ter of trust and I don’t trust any­one. I trusted Da­mon and look what hap­pened.

‘They got the drinks right [in the re­port]. I do like sauvi­gnon blanc and vodka, but I don’t start drink­ing in the morn­ing. I had to laugh, but at the same time it was ter­ri­ble — but then peo­ple do do things for money, don’t they? He was no longer liv­ing with me and I sup­ply a de­li­cious life­style for any­one.’ Why did the re­la­tion­ship end? ‘I was will­ing things to be lovely. I wanted to be loved. I knew from the be­gin­ning I was ly­ing to my­self. A lot of peo­ple do the same be­cause you want some­thing so much. You want the per­fect life, but there is no such thing. We weren’t right for one an­other. It be­gan de­te­ri­o­rat­ing as soon as we moved in here to­gether [in Septem­ber 2014]. We just didn’t get on, re­ally.

‘I just bought into it as I wanted the dream. I wanted the house. I wanted the boyfriend — tall, dark, hand­some, some­one in the busi­ness who had an un­der­stand­ing of the pa­parazzi. That was stupid, ob­vi­ously, in hind­sight.’

Craig be­gan meet­ing men on so­cial me­dia sites — an end­less stream of dates that never went any­where. He writes about it hi­lar­i­ously in his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, but there is an un­der­ly­ing poignancy.

‘I was search­ing for some­thing in those two years, but that soon be­comes dull. It be­comes tire­some and so vac­u­ous that you don’t like your­self any more. When I met Jonathan, I was about to go off all the sites.’

The judge says he knew he was fall­ing in love with Jonathan af­ter invit­ing him to his home for the week­end fol­low­ing their first date.

‘We both said the rea­son we wanted to meet each other was be­cause both of our pho­tographs [on Tin­der] were not doc­tored and we were both smil­ing.

‘Then as soon as I met him, I thought, “Yup, great smile.” There was no awk­ward­ness.

‘We had brunch in a nice lit­tle place in Not­ting­ham where I was work­ing on the Strictly tour. They ar­ranged a quiet ta­ble around the back. It couldn’t have been more per­fect. We even or­dered the same thing — smashed av­o­cado with poached egg on top — so we had sim­i­lar tastes as well.’

FOL­LOW­ING

that first date, Craig only had one spare week­end be­fore he be­gan film­ing for the fes­tive movie, Na­tiv­ity Rocks!, in which he stars as di­rec­tor Em­manuel Cavendish, and so he in­vited Jonathan to Hamp­shire.

‘As soon as we walked in here it felt right. I was wor­ried he wouldn’t want to go out with me be­cause I am 20 years older and the celebrity thing can be dif­fi­cult for some peo­ple. I knew I was fall­ing in love the day he left,’ says Craig.

‘This sum­mer was the first I’ve had in this house when I didn’t have builders. I could en­joy the gar­den and en­joy learn­ing about it with Jonathan. He’s taught me a lot. I’ve been get­ting back to the earth, grow­ing my own veg­eta­bles and herbs. I’ve loved that.’

Will he write a fourth au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, say Strictly The Good Life or Green Fin­gers And Glit­ter?

‘I don’t feel the need to write an­other one,’ he says. ‘I’ve aired ev­ery­thing now — un­less some­thing dra­matic hap­pens.’ Like par­ent­hood? ‘If Jonathan re­ally wants to, I’d adopt, but I would have to make some life­style changes. I def­i­nitely wouldn’t be able to have the naked but­lers at my par­ties, and I keep them in busi­ness, dar­ling.’

IN STRICTEST CON­FI­DENCE by Craig Revel Hor­wood is pub­lished by Michael O’Mara on Oc­to­ber 18 at £20. To or­der a copy for £16 (of­fer valid un­til Oc­to­ber 24, P&P free), visit mail­shop.co.uk/ books or call 0844 571 0640.

Out­spo­ken: Craig Revel Hor­wood Pic­tures: MUR­RAY SAN­DERS/DAR­REN SACKS/ALAMY

Glitzy: Craig with part­ner Jonathan Myring at their home in Hamp­shire. Far left, Seann Walsh kiss­ing his Strictly dance part­ner Katya Jones

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