Is the curse of Strictly something to do with the rumba?
- Credit: PA
The latest celebrity dancer to sashay off with a professional dance partner is Stacey Dooley, according to reports. We consider whether there is a hex on Strictly Come Dancing.
There may be no “curse of Strictly....” but if so, so what exactly is it that has struck again with the news that last year’s winner, Stacey Dooley has waltzed off with her professional partner, Kevin Clifton.
We found out via Stacey’s long-time boyfriend, personal trainer Sam Tucknott, that he saw a text from , from Kevin saying ‘I love you’ pop up on her phone.
We read that Stacey and Sam had agreed to split and he was clearing his stuff from her flat when he found out. In newspaper interviews he has placed the blame squarely on Kevin, calling the dancer “an absolute rat”.
What should be taken into account is that when celebrities spend long days and evenings with their professional dance partners, they will probably see much more of them than they do their life partner. Documentary maker Stacey Dooley, who was awarded MBE for her work, is away from home and while they say absence may make the heart grow fonder it does not necessarily make it fonder for the man or woman who is left behind.
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Who else has been affected by the alleged curse? Hold on to your hats...
Matt Di Angelo and Flavia Cacace
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In 2007, actor Matt (EastEnders, Hustle) started a relationship with Italian dancer Flavia, who broke off her 13-year relationship with fellow Strictly pro Vincent Simone. The romance ended in 2010.
Jimi Mistry and Flavia Cacace
Not long after the above, Flavia revealed she was dating her latest celebrity dance partner, film and TV actor Jimi Mistry (EastEnders, Coronation Street). The couple married in 2013
Joe Calzaghe and Kristina Rihanoff
Boxer Joe split from his girlfriend of five years, Jo-Emma Larvin, after the first week of rehearsals with his dance partner, Kristina Rihanoff. Kristina and Joe dated until 2013.
Ben Cohen and Kristina Rihanoff
England Rugby Union player Ben Cohen was in the 2013 series of Strictly and was partnered by Kristina Rihanoff. A few months after completing the show, Ben announced his split from his wife of 11 years. Ben and Kristina confirmed their relationship a year later.
Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev
Rachel (number wiz on Countdown) was also in the 2013 season, partnered by Pasha Kovalev. At the time she was in her first year of marriage but she and her husband announced their split in November 2013. Pasha has announced that 2018 was his last series of Strictly - it was his eighth. He and Rachel are still a couple.
Georgia May Foote and Giovanni Pernice
Georgia had been in a relationship with her Coronation Street co-star Sean Ward before starting a new relationship with her 2015 Strictly partner, Giovanni Pernice. She had told a newspaper: “(Giovanni’s) smitten and I’m the same... We fell in love as friends before anything happened.” Their relationship ended in 2016.
Not strictly the curse of Strictly but worth a mention...
Seann Walsh and Katya Jones
In last year’s show, Katya and Seann were filmed kissing each other following a few drinks at a bar. Although the pair apologised publicly for their actions, Seann’s ex-girlfriend Rebecca Humphries posted a statement revealing that he had berated her for being suspicious of his relationship with Katya. Katya and her husband Neil Jones remain together... Seann and Rebecca split up.
Kevin and Karen Clifton
Kevin and Karen, both professional dancers on the show, were married in 2015 and announced their split in March 2018. The Sun newspaper has reported that Kevin has been married three times.
I have omitted break-ups that affected Strictly contestants that do not seem to have a direct association with the show and relationships between dancer and partner where neither is already in a romance.
But let’s put it in perspective. There have been 15 series of Strictly Come Dancing, featuring more than 220 contestants and I have listed fewer than 10 celebs - eight here - who are alleged to have been hit by the curse.
The thing is, you get good-looking people with fit, young bodies which some dances require to be almost welded together and it is hardly surprising there may be some stirring of affection. Then you get the atmosphere of the lighting, the music and the romance - even the sexuality - of the dances.
It has been mooted that celebrities in relationships who are approached to take part in Strictly are sometimes reluctant to accept because of the supposed curse.
Or maybe they simply can’t dance, don’t want to be spray tanned, are allergic to sequins... or excitable judges. Relationships happen and unhappen all the time and while a TV show may have a higher incidence than in the wider population, on my assessment it is under five per cent. Moreover, no contestant aged over 45 appears to have been even slightly cursed... as far as we know. If the producers want to play safe they could aim for older celebs.
Radio presenter Chris Evans, who is more or less confirmed as a contestant in the 2019 series, is 53.