Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - NEWS -

any­thing so de­tailed and tricky as this.” Faye is clearly lov­ing her long-de­sired Strictly jour­ney, re­hears­ing 10 hours a day with part­ner Gio­vanni Per­nice, 27. And she is fi­nally en­joy­ing a bit of in­di­vid­ual fame, for once.

In the early days, af­ter the band formed in 1997, she has said she tried to be the “rebel of the group”, do­ing her hair in dif­fer­ent styles to stand out. It never quite seemed to work, though.

De­spite huge suc­cess – Steps sold 20 mil­lion records world­wide and scooped two num­ber one UK sin­gles and al­bums – Faye, Claire Richards, Lee Latch­forde­vans, Lisa Scott-lee and Ian “H” Watkins, were a squeaky-clean pack­age. She smiles when she tells me how re­cently she was chris­tened Faye “from Strictly” by a fan.

She says: “Three weeks ago some­body asked me for an au­to­graph and said ‘It’s Faye from Strictly’ rather than ‘Faye from Steps’. It was ac­tu­ally quite lovely, I en­joyed that.”

Af­ter the band split in 2001, Faye built a ca­reer in mu­si­cal the­atre but al­most lost her grip on fame com­pletely. So much so, in fact, that her own hus­band, Michael Smith, did not have a clue who she was when they first met.

A sales man­ager for an IT com­pany – a “real per­son” or “Mug­gle”, Faye jokes – he was out for his Christ­mas of­fice party in a bar when he and Faye got chat­ting.

“I was in New­cas­tle at the The­atre Royal, I was out with the cast for drinks,” she re­calls.

“He didn’t know who I was and if he did I prob­a­bly wouldn’t have spo­ken to him!” she laughs again.

“One of his friends asked how I was af­ter­wards – he said ‘How was Faye?” and Mike said ‘How did you know her name was Faye?’. I had dark hair at the time – and he wasn’t a Steps fan!”

They mar­ried in 2009 – Faye’s se­cond wed­ding, fol­low­ing her di­vorce from first hus­band, Dan­ish drum­mer Jes­per Irn, in 2006 – and have son Ben­jamin, nine. Strictly has brought Mug­gle Mike his

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