The Strictly Curse: All the victims of the BBC celebrity dance competition's romance jinx

Is Strictly a death knell for relationships? We find out.

By Published: 20 June 2019 - 4.13pm
Strictly Come Dancing 2018 winners Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton

With days, weeks and months of getting up close and personal in the Strictly Come Dancing training room, it’s hardly surprising that so many celebrities and professional dancers end up sharing more than just a Tango.

Just three weeks into the 2018 series of Strictly Come Dancing, the famous 'Strictly Curse' struck Seann Walsh and Katya Jones.

Here's their story, and 15 other people who’ve also fallen victim to the ballroom's forbidden romances over the years.

1. Seann Walsh and Katya Jones

Strictly Come Dancing contestants Katya Jones and Seann Walsh dancing

Seann Walsh's fake tan had barely even had time to dry before he got caught in a sleazy encounter with his pro dancer partner, Katya Jones.

Just three weeks into the 2018 competition, The Sun published photos and video of a drunken Seann and Katya on a night out in London where they stumbled out of a bar and snogged in the street.

What made it even worse was that the kiss happened on his girlfriend actress Rebecca Humphries' birthday, and Katya is married to fellow Strictly pro Neil Jones.

Both Seann and Katya tweeted apologies after the story broke, putting it down to a drunken mistake, but Rebecca tweeted her own version of events, which made it clear Seann had not bothered to try to make amends in real life.

2. Gemma Atkinson

Strictly Come Dancing contestant Gemma Atkinson

The Emmerdale and Hollyoaks soap star caused a stir in the 2017 series by starting a relationship with a pro dancer who she wasn't partnered with.

Atkinson and Gorka Marquez apparently struck up a relationship in early training, with some speculating that it could distract from their work with show partners Aljaz Skorjanec and Alexandra Burke - although critics needn't have worried, as both couples finished as runners-up behind champion Joe McFadden.

Gemma and Gorka are still together and expecting their first child in the summer of 2019. She told the Sunday People: “With Gorka, I had six months of getting to know him as a friend, that’s what is different.

“I’ve never fallen for a friend before. For us it was a Strictly blessing. We weren’t dancing together and we were both single. No one got hurt or trampled on, no one left anybody for anybody else so it was literally a Strictly blessing for me and Gorks.”

3. Louise Redknapp

Louise Redknapp and Kevin Clifton on Strictly Come Dancing

Louise and Jamie Redknapp had always seemed like a rock solid couple, but following her stint in the ballroom they divorced after 19 years of marriage.

The former Eternal singer announced that appearing in Strictly had given her the confidence to perform again, meanwhile her former father in law Harry Redknapp went on to be crowned king of the I’m A Celebrity jungle in 2018.

4. Daisy Lowe

Daisy Lowe on Strictly Come Dancing

Daisy Lowe fell victim to the Strictly curse in 2016 after splitting with boyfriend Bradley 'Frankie' Wade.

The couple's short-lived relationship couldn't cope with the strain of her training schedule and they split up during her time on the show.

5. Georgia May Foote and Giovanni Pernice

Strictly Come Dancing couple Georgia May Foote and Giovanni Pernice

Coronation Street actress Georgia May Foote was dating fellow Corrie star Sean Ward when she was partnered with Giovanni Pernice in the 2015 series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Shortly afterwards, the pair went public with their relationship posting plenty of loved-up pictures online. However, just before the start of Strictly 2016, Georgia and Giovanni decided to call it quits.

6. Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev

Strictly Come Dancing couple Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev

Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev were one of Strictly’s hottest pairings when they were put together in 2010. Their chemistry – especially when lifting the Glitterball trophy as champions – was palpable.

They quickly confirmed a romance after the end of the show and were together for four years until splitting in 2014, partly due to Artem’s visa problems that had kept the pair apart.

7. Ali Bastian and Brian Fortuna

Former Strictly Come Dancing contestant Ali Bastian

Former Hollyoaks actress Ali Bastian and Strictly professional Brian Fortuna began dating when they were partnered together on the show in 2009.

However, the pair split up a year later when their romance fizzled out and Doctors actress Bastian married her actor partner David O’Mahone in 2019.

8. Matt Di Angelo and Flavia Cacace

Strictly Come Dancing dancer Flavia Cacace

This was one of the messiest Strictly romances, and it involved EastEnders actor Matt Di Angelo and Flavia Cacace in 2007.

When the couple were partnered together, Flavia had been dating fellow professional Vincent Simone for 11 years. However, she soon left him for Matt, who was only 19 years old at the time.

Speaking about the romance years later, Matt said: “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.”

The story got even more complicated when Flavia left Matt in 2010 for her new celebrity partner, Jimi Mistry…

9. Jimi Mistry and Flavia Cacace

Strictly Come Dancing couple Flavia Cacace and Jimi Mistry

Weeks after announcing that she had broken up with Matt Di Angelo, Flavia Cacace revealed that she was dating former Coronation Street actor and new celebrity dance partner Jimi Mistry in 2010.

The pair's romance has been one of Strictly's more enduring love stories, and they wed in December 2013.

10. Joe Calzaghe and Kristina Rihanoff

Strictly Come Dancing contestants Joe Calzaghe and Kristina Rihanoff

It didn’t take boxer Joe Calzaghe long to fall for Kristina Rihanoff’s charms. Only a week into his training on the show in 2009, he split up with his girlfriend of five years Jo Emma Larvin.

The pair were together for an impressive four years, but broke up in 2013 after Kristina revealed that the couple wanted different things. She said: “He wanted a girlfriend at home with his family in Wales, but he didn't want to get married or have children and I didn't want to give up that dream. And I won't live a lie, because life is too short.”

11. Ben Cohen and Kristina Rihanoff

Strictly Come Dancing couple Ben Cohen and Kristina Rihanoff

Ben Cohen and Kristina Rihanoff caused more than a bit of commotion when they competed together on Strictly Come Dancing.

They got together after the series but Kristina was adamant that she hadn’t played a part in his break-up from his wife.

“I wasn’t involved in the breaking up of his marriage,” she said in an interview.

However, Ben’s ex-wife Abby, who he has twin daughters with, had a different story. “My husband, who I was with for 23 years, unconditionally loved and was completely loyal to in every respect, has left me for a f***ing Russian dancer,” she said.

“He's done the dirty on me. I'm just trying to recover from what has been the most horrific time of my life.”

The two welcomed their first child, a daughter, in 2016.

12. Natasha Kaplinsky and Brenda Cole

Former Strictly Come Dancing contestants Brendan Cole and Natasha Kaplinsky

Neither Natasha Kaplinsky nor Brendan Cole has ever confirmed that anything more than dancing happened between them when they were partnered during the first series of Strictly Come Dancing.

They might have won the show, but they were also plagued with romance rumours. After dancing together, Brendan dumped his then-fiancée and Strictly professional Camilla Dallerup while Natasha broke up with long-term partner Mike Barnard.

13. Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev

Former Strictly Come Dancing contestants Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev

The Countdown presenter is still adamant that nothing romantic happened between her and her dance partner while they were competing on Strictly Come Dancing.

When they were partnered in the 2014 series of the show, Rachel was married to husband Jamie Gilbert.

She announced that her 16-month marriage – and nine-year relationship – was over soon after the series ended and confirmed that she and Pasha Kovalev were an item. They're still together and married in Las Vegas in 2019.

14. Susanna Reid

Strictly Come Dancing contestants Susanna Reid and Kevin Clifton

Former BBC Breakfast host Susanna Reid was partnered with Kevin Clifton on the series in 2013, and although nothing happened between the pair, she still succumbed to the curse of Strictly.

After being in a relationship with Dominic Cotton for 15 years, Reid announced that the couple had split up shortly after Strictly Come Dancing had ended.

15. Helen George

Former Strictly Come Dancing contestants Helen George and Aljaz Skorjanec

The Call the Midwife actress revealed that she was splitting up with her husband of three years, Oliver Boot, as she was heading into Strictly Come Dancing in 2015.

Despite not being linked to any of the Strictly professional dancers or fellow celebrities, a spokesperson for the actress said at the time: “I can confirm that Helen separated from her husband some time ago".

Since 2016 George has been with her Call The Midwife co-star Jack Ashton, who plays Rev. Tom Hereward in the BBC drama. The pair welcomed their first child, daughter Wren Ivy in 2017.

16. Stacey Dooley

Strictly Come Dancing winners Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton

Three months after lifting the 2018 trophy, Stacey Dooley split with her personal trainer boyfriend of three years, Sam Tucknott. 

Although the documentary filmmaker and her dance partner Kevin Clifton have never confirmed that they’re romantically involved, Tucknott has told several newspapers that he believes they are a couple.