Inside the Strictly Come Dancing curse: All the couples torn apart and the new romances formed by the BBC show over 20 scandalous years
- READ MORE: Strictly Come Dancing 2023 pairings REVEALED
Strictly waltzed back onto on screens last week, marking it’s 21st series.
But with the Quicksteps and Waltzes come the romantic rumours and inevitable breakups from couples on the show.
While some couples split while they were competing on the show, amicable or otherwise, many fell apart in the months after the glitzy lights dimmed in the famous ballroom, giving name to the infamous Strictly curse.
MailOnline take a look-back at some of its biggest victims.
Not true! In its first series, Natasha Kaplinsky and Brendan Cole were blighted by affair rumours, and they went onto date after the show
Series 1 (2004): Natasha Kaplinsky and Brendan Cole
Strictly hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons during season one, viewers were transfixed by the apparent close bond between newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky and her hunky partner Brendan Cole.
Although the pair went on to win the show, their success was blighted by affair rumours.
BBC presenter Natasha soon split from long-term partner Mike Barnard while Brendan dumped his fiancée and fellow dancer Camilla Dallerup.
Writing in her book Strictly Inspirational, Camilla said their split was like a ‘mini death’.
‘You go through the arc of grief, anger, bitterness,’ she said. ‘My best friend and dancing professionally with Brendan had both gone.’
However, Natasha has always denied any wrongdoing, saying: ‘There was chemistry, of course, and I certainly fell in love with dancing, but I did not fall in love with Brendan.’
Together: After competing together in 2007, Matt Di Angelo and Flavia Cacace dated for three years, after she ended her long-term relationship with dance partner Vincent Simone
Series 5 (2007): Matt Di Angelo and Flavia Cacace
Of all the Strictly romances there’s been over the years, this remains one of the most interesting.
Flavia Cacace was in a long-term relationship with her dance partner Vincent Simone when she was partnered with Matt Di Angelo in 2007. He was eight years her junior.
Before long gossip was raging about how Flavia and Matt, then 19, were secretly in love. Shortly after the show finished she called time on her romance with Vincent and went public with Matt.
Looking back at their partnership, Matt told Daily Mail: ‘It was a pretty crazy time. It was front page news.
‘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 and actually act on it.’
Their romance ended in 2010, and a few weeks later Flavia admitted she was dating her latest dance partner, actor Jimi Mistry, who she went on to marry.
Sizzling: During her appearance on the Strictly dancefloor in 2009, Hollyoaks star Ali grew close to her dance partner Brian Fortuna, and after they confirmed their romance in the final, they dated for a year
Series 7 (2009): Ali Bastian and Brian Fortuna
During her appearance on the Strictly dancefloor, Hollyoaks star Ali grew close to her dance partner Brian Fortuna, sparking speculation among fans that the pair were dating.
At first they denied the rumours, but during a performance of the American Smooth in the final, Brian leaned in to kiss Ali, confirming their romance.
While they finished that series in third place Ali and Brian went onto date for a year before calling it quits.
Not to be: Former boxer Joe Calzaghe split with his girlfriend of five years Jo-Emma Larvin just a week into the show in 2009, and he began a four-year relationship with Russian dancer Kristina Rihanoff soon afterwards
Series 7 (2009): Joe Calzaghe and Kristina Rihanoff
Former boxer Joe Calzaghe split with his girlfriend of five years Jo-Emma Larvin just a week into the show in 2009.
The sportsman began a relationship with Russian dancer Kristina Rihanoff soon afterwards.
The pair enjoyed a four-year romance but parted ways after Joe reportedly asked Kristina not to accept a role dancing in a stage production.
Speaking to Hello! Kristina said: ‘He was sick and tired of waiting around for me, and said that if I truly loved him, I wouldn’t have taken the job in the West End.’
Kristina is said to have also wanted children while Joe already has two sons from a previous relationship.
Ill-fated: Unfortunately for Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev their relationship didn’t manage to go the distance, after they won the show in 2010
Series 8 (2010): Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev
Unfortunately for Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev their relationship didn’t manage to go the distance.
After winning the show in 2010 the pair hooked up, love quickly blossomed and they moved into a London home together.
However, it’s believed Russian Artem’s visa issues saw him having to spend time apart from Kara for months on end and they eventually decided to call it a day in 2014.
Actress Kara welcomed her baby son, Frey with fiancé Marius Jensen in 2018, while Artem has struck up a romance with retired WWE wrestler, Nikki Bella since moving to the US to compete on Dancing With the Stars in 2014.
Hitting back: Kristina Rihanoff was forced to defend her romance with Strictly partner Ben Cohen insisting that their relationship only began once his 11 year marriage to wife Abby had come to an end in 2013
Series 11 (2013): Ben Cohen and Kristina Rihanoff
Kristina Rihanoff was forced to defend her romance with Strictly partner Ben Cohen insisting that their relationship only began once his 11 year marriage to wife Abby had come to an end.
‘He left his wife a year ago,’ she told Daily Mirror. ‘Recently we started dating but we’re allowed to see each other as two single people.’
Kristina – who has also dated Vincent Simone and ex partner Joe Calzaghe – said there have been other couples, yet she is the only one to be ‘attacked’.
Done: Abby was married to the rugby player-turned-Strictly contestant for 11 years (pictured in 2014 – the year they split)
She said: ‘Ben’s said it many times and I’ll say it again – I wasn’t involved in the breaking up of his marriage.’
Meanwhile Abby described the split and resultant divorce as ‘the most traumatic thing to ever happen to me’.
Ben, 37, met Abby in 1995 at the age of 17, and the couple married in 2003 before welcoming their daughters in 2008. He and Kristina now share a six-year-old daughter, Milena.
Split: Rachel began dating her professional dancer partner Pasha Kovalev in 2013 after splitting from her husband, and since then they’ve gone onto marry in 2019 and they now have two daughters
Series 11 (2013): Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev
On the same series, Countdown’s math whiz Rachel Riley’s relationship with her pro partner Pasha Kovalev ultimately ended her marriage to her husband of just one year.
She wed Jamie Gilbert in 2012, taking part on 2013’s season of the dancing show. By the end of 2013, they had split and she was with Pasha – which she claims began after the show came to an end.
‘On Strictly, you form a close bond with your partner, but there was nothing romantic when Pasha and I were dancing. It was just dancing,’ she told the Mail the following January, insisting there’s no such thing as The Curse.
‘[Strictly] serves as a magnifying glass that shows up pre-existing fault lines,’ she said, explaining the situation. She is still with Pasha today.
Rachel went onto marry Pasha in 2019, and they have two daughters, Maven, two, and Noa, nine months.
Over: Susanna Reid was another victim of series 11. She was billed as the most popular breakfast TV host and in a 15-year relationship when she reached the Strictly Come Dancing final that year, but she split from her partner after the show ended
Series 11 (2013): Susanna Reid
Susanna Reid was another victim of series 11. She was billed as the most popular breakfast TV host and in a 15-year relationship when she reached the Strictly Come Dancing final that year.
However shortly after the show ended, the TV host split from her long-term partner Dominic Cotton.
However, mother-of-three Susanna, who was paired with professional Kevin Clifton, said the programme was not to blame for her love problems.
Good Morning Britain presenter Susanna told The Daily Mirror: ‘I think people think Strictly was bound up in what happened. It wasn’t. Obviously things have been challenging in my personal life but we are getting things sorted.’
They’ve split! Actress Sunetra Sarker parted ways with her husband Nick Corfield just before she began competing on Strictly, though she has since said their marriage was over three years before she signed up for the show
Series 12 (2014): Sunetra Sarker
Actress Sunetra Sarker also announced her marriage split after starring on Strictly.
She parted ways with her husband Nick Corfield after ten years of marriage just before the programme hit the screens.
The couple first met in 1989 while on holiday in Jersey and have a 13-year-old son together.
However, she said the romance had ended long before her reality show stint: ‘The truth is three years ago me and my husband amicably split up and it obviously had nothing to do with Strictly.’
The Casualty actress, who plays Dr Zoe Hanna in the BBC medical drama, is now said to be dating business partner Scott Carey. Together, the pair set up the food firm Keep Me Fresh.
Calling it quits: Caroline Flack broke up with her boyfriend of a year and a half, Jack Street, after making her way into the Strictly Come Dancing semi-final
Series 12 (2014): Caroline Flack
Caroline Flack broke up with her boyfriend of a year and a half, Jack Street, after making her way into the Strictly Come Dancing semi-final.
According to The Sun, she was ‘distraught’ backstage at the BBC show, but managed to put on a brave face to wow with her Tango and top the leader board.
A source close to her told the newspaper: ‘It came to a natural end and was mutual.’
Some contestants have ended relationships to engage in a romance with their dance partner on the show, but the source noted that in Caroline’s case, this wasn’t the reason.
‘No one else is involved,’ they stated.
Caroline had been seeing music manager Jack for around 18 months and she previously said that he was fine with her working on the talent show despite its reputation.
‘Jack’s been completely fine about the whole curse thing,’ she said, quoted in The Mirror. ‘He hasn’t once been worried’.
Series 13 (2015): Helen George
It did not take long before the dreaded curse of Strictly struck again.
Actress Helen George announced her split from husband of three years, fellow actor Oliver Boot, after she was revealed as a contestant on the show.
‘I can confirm that Helen separated from her husband some time ago,’ a spokesperson for the star said. She has not been linked to any fellow Strictly contestants or professional dancers.
Over and out: Actress Helen George announced her split from husband of three years, fellow actor Oliver Boot, after she was revealed as a contestant on the show in 2015 (pictured with pro Aljaz Skorjanec)
A Royal Academy Of Music graduate, Helen is best known for starring as Nurse Beatrix ‘Trixie’ Franklin in the hit BBC period drama Call The Midwife.
George has also performed as a back-up singer for Sir Elton John and starred in a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Zippel called The Woman In White.
She met her former partner on set of BBC drama Hotel Babylon, and the couple married in December 2012.
Following the end of her marriage, Helen began dating her Call The Midwife co-star Jack Ashton in 2016, and they are parents to daughters Wren, four, and Lark, nine months.
Break-up: Shortly after Georgina finished runner-up in the Strictly 2015 final, she announced her split from Sean Ward
New love: She went onto date her professional partner Giovanni Pernice for a year, but the couple split ahead of him starting rehearsals for the 2016 series
Series 13 (2015): Georgia May Foote
Georgia May Foote was in a relationship with her Coronation Street co-star Sean Ward when she took part in the 2015 series of the show.
But cracks began to show as it was reported that Sean was enraged with jealousy over her decision to take part, and even allegedly accompanied her to rehearsals at the beginning of her Strictly journey.
Shortly after she finished runner-up in the final, she and Sean announced their split – with Georgia seen kissing her dance partner Giovanni Pernice during a romantic trip to Disneyland soon after.
However, shortly before rehearsals for the 2016 series began, Georgia and Giovanni called time on their romance after just a year.
Giovanni moved on with 2018 contestant and former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts, while Georgia began dating rapper Kris Evans.
Drama: Louise Redknapp appeared on the series in 2016, after which she and Jamie were said to be facing marital issues. By the end of 2017, they were divorced
Series 14 (2016): Louise and Jamie Redknapp
Footballer Jamie Redknapp is said to have been offered a place on the Strictly line-up recently, but understandably has refused after the series was blamed for the demise of his marriage to wife Louise.
Louise appeared on the series in 2016, after which she and Jamie were said to be facing marital issues. By the end of 2017, they were divorced.
It was highly-speculated that Louise realised, during the show, that she wanted to get back to work having sacrificed her career for her marriage – with co-star Daisy Lowe said to have helped her ‘rediscover her youth’.
A TV source said: ‘Strictly used to be show that no celebrity ever turned down. But the Curse has changed all that. There is now a genuine concern that appearing on the show can negatively impact relationships. Jamie only has negative feelings about Strictly now. There’s absolutely no way he would appear.’
Louise was also rumoured to have struck up a romantic bond with her pro partner Kevin Clifton, but this has never been confirmed.
Split: The Cliftons – a married pair of pro dancers – split romantically in 2018, but have continued to work together as a pro dance partnership, insisting there’s no bad blood (pictured in 2017)
Series 14 (2016): Kevin and Karen Clifton
Despite the rumours surrounding thrice-married Kevin while he partnered with Louise, nothing seemed to transpire between the two. He was, of course, married at the time too – to fellow pro Karen Clifton.
However, since then, the pair have split up.
Kevin proposed to her, on her birthday, on stage during a performance of Burn the Floor and they wed in July 2015. But in March 2018, they confirmed that they were no longer together romantically.
They have since continued to work together as a pro dance partnership, however, insisting there is no bad blood, and Karen married Jordan Wyn-Jones in June 2022.
Drama: Stacey Dooley’s boyfriend of five years Sam Tucknott, 30, revealed in 2019 that she had left him for her dance partner Kevin Clifton. They are still together as of August 2022
Series 16 (2018): Stacey Dooley, Sam Tucknott and Kevin Clifton
Stacey’s boyfriend of five years Sam Tucknott, 30, revealed Stacey had left him in an interview with the Mail On Sunday in April 2019. He called her dance partner, three-times married Kevin Clifton, 36, a slippery snake.
Sam confronted Kevin in furious video chat where he branded him a ‘proper rat’. He told MoS in an exclusive interview he felt betrayed by the new couple’s romance.
It has been alleged that Stacey and Kevin’s relationship was an ‘open secret’ on the Strictly tour which followed the series.
The TV presenter, 32, broke her silence on Twitter soon after, insisting there ‘are two sides to every story,’ and she and Kevin are still together, welcoming their daughter Minnie in 2023.
All over: In August 2019, just ahead of series 17, Neil and Katya announced their split after 11 years of marriage
Series 16/17 (2019-2019): Katya and Neil Jones
2018 saw The Curse strike early on in the season, with drama escalating just three weeks into the live shows.
In a new twist, a love square formed when Katya Jones, who was married to fellow show professional Neil, was snapped kissing her celebrity partner, comedian Seann Walsh, on the street outside a pub in London. This took part on Sean’s girlfriend’s – actress and writer Rebecca Humphries – birthday, no less.
The pair brushed it off as a ‘one-off mistake’, despite them kissing and laughing brazenly in public. But days later Rebecca ‘dumped’ Seann via a Twitter statement.
Seann and Katya did not pull out of the show, with their dalliance a gigantic elephant in the room as they still performed on the series, with Neil on set too.
However, in August 2019, just ahead of series 17, Neil and Katya announced their split after 11 years of marriage, the break-up coming just 10 months after her kiss with Seann.
Dumped: Neil and Katya’s break-up came 10 months after her kiss with Seann Walsh (pictured with ex-girlfriend Rebecca Humphries)
New couple: Fellow professional dancers Nadiya Byckkova and Kai Widdrington struck up a romance after she split from her fiancé Matija Škarabot, though she has since revealed they had secretly split over a year earlier
Series 18 (2020): Nadiya Byckkova, Matija Škarabot and Kai Widdrington
In January 2022, Nadiya revealed she had split from her fiancé Matija Škarabot, with whom she shares her five-old daughter.
The news broke shortly after she had partnered with married BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker and there were rumours of a romance, which they were quick to dispel.
The professional dancer later revealed that she had in fact secretly split from her fiancé before series 18 had even began and during that time she struck up a dancer with fellow pro Kai – who had been romantically linked to his partner that series – AJ Odudu.
While Nadiya did not disclose exactly when she and Kai started dating she said in her first interview about their romance that she found him to be ‘kind and compassionate and makes me laugh. I feel very relaxed with him.’
Dancing through life: Max George and Maisie Smith struck up a romance after appearing on series 18 of the hit show together in 2020, having grown close while touring together in 2022
Series 18 (2020): Max George, Stacey Giggs and Maisie Smith
When Max George appeared on series 18 of Strictly he was happily loved-up with Stacey Giggs, whom he had been dating for four years, with the singer taking on the role of stepfather to her two children.
Yet months after appearing on the show he began a relationship with fellow series 18 star Maisie Smith, who had been linked to singer HRVY during her initial time on the show.
Max and Maisie are said to have grown close on the Strictly live tour, which took place a couple of months after they appeared on the show together.
Stacey then accused her ex of cheating on her with Maisie and reportedly felt ‘betrayed’ by her former beau.
Fuming: Stacey Giggs then accused her ex of cheating on her with Maisie and reportedly felt ‘betrayed’ by her former beau after their four-year relationship came to an abrupt end
Series 19 (2021): Tilly Ramsay and Nikita Kuzmin
While they were competing on Strictly together, Tilly and Nikita denied any speculation that they were dating, as the dancer was already in a long-term relationship with Nicole Wirt.
However, in October 2021, Nicole posted a cryptic Instagram message about ‘not being supported’ just hours after she deleted a gushing supportive comment to Nikita and Tilly after their first live show.
Nicole shared a sketch of a figure standing alone beneath the words ‘The Support’ while the opposite side of the image sees a large crowd of people beneath the words ‘The Congratulations’. Nikita added the caption: ‘Don’t get fooled… it be like that.’ [sic]
Drama: While they were competing on Strictly together, Tilly and Nikita denied any speculation that they were dating, as the dancer was already in a long-term relationship with Nicole Wirt
Trouble in paradise? However, in October 2021, Nicole posted a cryptic Instagram message about ‘not being supported’ just hours after she deleted a gushing supportive comment to Nikita and Tilly after their first live show
Series 19 (2021): Adam Peaty and Eirianedd Munro
In an Instagram statement in August 2022, Olympic swimmer Adam took to Instagram to confirm that he and his girlfriend Eirianedd Munro had split after three years together.
He said that the couple had decided to go ‘their separate ways’ but that their son George, who is two next month, remained their ‘priority’.
Announcing the news via social media, Adam wrote: ‘Eiri and George, I’m sorry for letting you down. My only interest is for the well-being of our family at this difficult time.’
News: In an Instagram statement in August 2022, Olympic swimmer Adam took to Instagram to confirm that he and his girlfriend Eirianedd Munro had split after three years together (pictured at Wimbledon in July)
The split came after Adam raised eyebrows with his chemistry with pro partner Katya Jones on the dance floor a year previously, with eagle-eyed fans claiming they thought that they nearly kissed at the end of one steamy routine.
After the incident, Eirianedd admitted she had been ‘really emotional’ after her sportsman beau’s ‘near kiss’ with Katya.
Eirianedd, told fans she took a ‘short break’ from social media after Adam and Katya got very close at the end of their racy Argentine Tango.
A source close to the artist at the time revealed she hoped Katya didn’t get ‘any ideas’ about their close partnership, after posting a tongue-in-cheek TikTok featuring her miming to a track in which the vocalist sings she’ll ‘kill’ the next girl her beau dances with.
Controversial: Adam was paired with Katya Jones on Strictly last year, where the pairing raised eyebrows with their chemistry on the dance floor
Series 19 (2021) John Whaite and Johannes Radebe
Steamy: Bake Off star John, 34, recently confessed he ‘fell in love’ with his professional partner Johannes during his stint on the show while engaged to partner Paul Atkins
Great British Bake Off star John, 34, recently confessed he ‘fell in love’ with his professional partner Johannes during his stint on the show while engaged to partner Paul Atkins.
John’s feelings did not lead to any romantic relationship between the two but he did admit that he and his fiance Paul ‘spent some time apart’ after he opened up about his feelings towards Johannes.
John told how his heart was ‘torn in two’ as he revealed why he decided to bare all about Johannes in his memoir Dancing On Eggshells.
He said: ‘The reason I’ve spoken about that story and specifically where Johannes is concerned and where my partner is concerned – I haven’t written anything people didn’t want me to write.
‘The reason I’ve spoken about that story is to illustrate that life is difficult. We are fragile human beings and that our hearts sometimes can be torn into two.
‘And sometimes you have to take stock an think to yourself ‘who am I, what my values are and how do I get back to that?”
Johannes meanwhile has insisted that he and John will be ‘friends for life.’
Series 20 (2022): Nikita Kuzmin
Nikita Kuzmin reportedly split from his longterm girlfriend Nicole Wirt in October 2022.
The professional dancer, 24, is said to have parted ways with his partner who moved out of the flat they shared together last autumn.
Nikita, who was partnered with paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds on last year’s series, reportedly decided it was ‘for the best’ the couple went their separate ways.
Breakup: Strictly Come Dancing star Nikita Kuzmin has reportedly split from his longterm girlfriend Nicole Wirt (pictured)
A source said: ‘Nikita wanted to totally focus on this series of Strictly and decided a while back he wanted to end his relationship with Nicole.
‘They had been together for five years and it ended up being a mutual decision. Nicole is mainly based in Germany and she is getting busier with work.
‘Nicole used to stay in London to visit Nikita but it was becoming more difficult with their schedules.’
Series 20 (2022): Tyler West and Molly Rainford
Lovebirds: Radio DJ Tyler, 27, and actress Molly, 22 both competed on Strictly Come Dancing last year – with Molly earning second place and Tyler coming seventh
Radio DJ Tyler, 27, and actress Molly, 22 both competed on Strictly Come Dancing last year – with Molly earning second place and Tyler coming seventh.
In February 2023, two months after the series wrapped, they were spotted holding hands as they were spotted walking hand-in-hand in Belfast, Ireland while on the Strictly live tour.
The couple then finally confirmed their relationship in June when they attended a party hand in hand.
Tyler later told the Evening Standard: ‘Mols is wicked! She’s amazing, man. She’s my world, [and] my best friend. It feels great that I’ve gone through an experience like [Strictly] with her and come out the other side.’
Series 21 (2023): Bobby Brazier and Liberty Love
It’s over: Bobby Brazier has split from his on-off girlfriend Liberty Love as his bid for the glitterball trophy begins (pictured May 2022)
The 2023 series of Strictly has already claimed one curse victim, before they dancers even hit the floor.
Just days into rehearsals EastEnders star and show favourite Bobby Brazier confirmed he had split from his on-off girlfriend, model Liberty Love, who he had been dating for more than 18 months.
In July 2022, Bobby and Liberty unfollowed each other on Instagram and deleted all traces of each other from their social medias.
However, they rekindled their spark and began dating again, until Bobby called it quits ahead of his Strictly debut.
The split comes as the star – who is the son of late reality TV star Jade Goody – made his Strictly debut on Saturday, when 6.2million viewers watched him be paired up with professional Dianne Buswell, 34.
Strictly Come Dancing 2023: Who are the couples?
Nigel Harman and Katya Jones
Bobby Brazier and Diane Buswell
Annabel Croft and Johannes Radebe
Zara McDermott and Graziano Di Prima
Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice
Angela Rippon and Kai Widdrington
Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Lauren Oakley
Angela Scanlon and Carlos Gu
Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola
Adam Thomas and Luba Mushtuk
Jody Cundy and Jowita Przystał
Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin
Nikita Kanda and Gorka Marquez
Les Dennis and Nancy Xu
Eddie Kadi and Karen Hauer
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