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

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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’s men

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…

Kristina’s ro­mances

‘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

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