The Strictly curse
Who would have thought that a dance show could create so many scandals? From love triangles to break-ups and race rows, Strictly has had them allé
Brendan Cole’s love triangle
When Brendan Cole and Natasha Kaplinsky waltzed to victory on the debut series of Strictly Come Dancing, their rumoured affair led to the birth of the Strictly curse. Both parties have insisted their relationship was purely professional, but Brendan’s fiancée Camilla Dallerup was hurt in the process. The couple had been together eight years and Camilla claimed Brendan’s behaviour towards Natasha broke her heart – especially when he kissed her on the lips during a live show. She said, ‘Right in front of his future parentsin-law, he was kissing the woman I now thought of as my arch-rival for his love.’
Flavia Cacace was in a long-term relationship with professional partner Vincent Simone when she teamed with Matt Di Angelo, then 20. Their romance in 2007 became front-page news, but the pair insisted they were just pals. Former Eastenders star Matt said, ‘The funny thing was the story did not start off as true, but the more you read it, the more you started to believe it. I started to think if I am getting all this stick, we might as well go out with each other.’ But Matt wasn’t destined for a longterm relationship. Flavia was partnered up with actor Jimi Mistry in 2010, and they had so much chemistry that it was no surprise Flavia fell for his charms. The pair married in 2013. At least they’ve had a happy ending…
‘Siberian Siren’ was the name former pro Kristina Rihanoff earned after falling in love with two dance partners. In 2009, Kristina got together with boxer Joe Calzaghe, who dumped his girlfriend of five years, Jo-emma Larvin, one week into the show. The pair split up in 2013. Kristina then fell for her next dance partner, Ben Cohen, despite him being married. After the show, Ben divorced his wife Abby, and he’s gone on to have a baby with Kristina. But even before Strictly, Kristina had earned a rep as a man-eater, having an affair with judge Shirley Ballas’ ex-husband, Corky, when she was his dance pupil.
Anton’s racist remark
In 2009, Strictly was at the centre of a race row after it emerged Anton Du Beke had called his dancing partner a ‘p***’. Anton reportedly told Laila Rouass, who has an Indian mother and Moroccan father, that she ‘looked like a p***’ after she turned up to rehearsals with a spray tan. Laila was said to have left very upset and there were calls for the BBC to sack him, but she later accepted his apology, saying, ‘It was a situation which happened that we have moved on from and I accept his apology.’
Yet more splits!
Former Coronation Street star Georgia May Foote split from her Our Girl actor boyfriend, Sean Ward, while filming Strictly in 2015. It was alleged that when she made it into the final, Sean erupted in a jealous rage. Georgia, 26, went on to have a relationship with her dance partner, Giovanni Pernice, but said there was no ‘overlap’ between romances and that her relationship with her costar began after the show finished. Despite claiming she was the ‘happiest I’ve ever been’ with Gio, the pair were hit by the Strictly curse and split in August 2016.
The most outspoken couple on Strictly
Blunt professional dancer James Jordan, 39, caused controversy when he revealed he was axed from the BBC in 2014 after eight years. The BBC claimed they had offered him a reduced role on the show, but James tweeted, ‘Yes, it’s true I WILL NOT be returning to ‘Burn the Floor’… Sorry, I mean ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. However… do not believe everything the BBC have written in their statement.’ His equally outspoken wife Ola, 35, left in 2015 after claiming the show was rigged. She had also previously clashed with show bosses over racy photo shoots and claims the dancers were paid too little, saying, ‘We get OK money. But compared to the judges? They sit one day a week and get a lot more than the dancers. Is that fair?’
Arlene gets the chop
Her finger wagging was as much a staple of Strictly as Len Goodman’s ‘sevens’ and Craig Revel Horwood’s caustic comments, but in 2009, Arlene Phillips was axed. The then 66-year-old judge was replaced by a much younger Alesha Dixon, then 30, leading to calls of ageism in the BBC. The broadcaster received nearly 1,000 complaints, but denied they had replaced her in a bid to attract a younger audience. Alesha was later replaced with dancer Darcey Bussell.
Countdown to drama
Countdown presenter Rachel Riley went on to
Strictly married to her university sweetheart, Jamie Gilbert. The pair had met while studying at Oxford, but when Rachel took part in the show, the marriage collapsed. The 31-yearold later admitted the pressures of Strictly contributed to her divorce, saying, ‘It gave me some distance to realise what I wanted. Jamie and I were together for nine years and if it was going to be forever, it would have been forever. We’re still good friends.’ Since then, Rachel has formed a relationship with her professional partner, Pasha Kovalev.
Louise and Jamie Redknapp
Louise, who found fame in girl band Eternal, gave up her pop career when she married former England footballer Jamie, 44, in 1998. The couple went on to have two sons – Charley, 13, and Beau, eight – and seemed blissfully happy until Louise took part in Strictly last year. Rumours circulated that all wasn’t well when Louise was spotted on nights out with Strictly co-star Daisy Lowe. Louise recently admitted she had felt like a ‘Stepford Wife’ and being in Strictly forced her to rethink her life, which included separating from Jamie.
John Sergeant steps down
In 2008, the then 64-year-old political correspondent was repeatedly saved by the public, despite coming bottom of the leaderboard every week. John’s Teflon ability to evade eviction while better dancers were losing their place irked the show’s judges. In November that year, he chose to step down, saying, ‘It was always my intention to have fun and
I was hoping to stay in as long as possible. The trouble is that there is now a real danger that I might win the competition. Even for me that would be a joke too far.’
Kara and Artem
Eastenders’ Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev danced to victory in 2010, before coming out as a couple in 2011. But while the chemistry on the dance floor spilled over into real life, they were hit by the Strictly curse themselves. The pair split in 2013. Artem’s Russian nationality was cited as a reason, as his visa didn’t allow full UK status.
Natasha and Brendan were rumoured to be having an affair Camilla and Brendan had been together eight years
Husband and wife Flavia and Jimi met in Series 8 After 11 years with Vincent, above, Flavia got together with Matt in 2007
Ben, above, and Joe were both taken when they met Kristina
We thought they were a match made in heaven
John Sergeant was a huge hit with the public Louise with her dance partner