Strictly Come Dancing makes a glitzy return to the Autumn TV schedule this weekend with 12 celebrities finding out which professional partner they’ll be glued to for the next few months.
Partnerships can be make or break in the quest for the glitterball trophy with contestants hoping to find a winning connection on the dance floor.
As previous series will testify, the bond between couples can extend way beyond the realms of ballroom dancing with the show offering a backdrop for romance to ignite.
Many stars have succumbed to temptation and fallen head over heels for their partner, in some cases at the cost of their existing romance.
Stars hooking up, or finding their freedom, has become as much a feature of the show as sequins and fake tan, sparking the term ‘Strictly curse’.
Host Claudia Winkleman has admitted she understands why the BBC show has skirted controversy in the past.
“I understand, it’s very intense,” she told the Radio Times. “I don’t believe in the curse, but I think lots of people have come in single and they might have met somebody or had a little romance.
“It’s intoxicating, Strictly, because you’re all part of this extraordinary juggernaut. So I don’t think people fall in love with people, they might just love the experience,” she suggested.
So as series 19 kicks off, we take a look at the stars who have found lasting love, been inspired to dump their existing spouse and even succumbed to a passionate fling with their partner.
Neil and Katya Jones
The collapse of Neil and Katya Jones’ six year marriage has been blamed on the show’s curse.
During the 2018 series, pictures emerged of Katya locking lips with her dance partner Seann Walsh. The pair were spotted snogging in the street when a late night dance rehearsal descended into a boozy trip to the pub.
Katya was married to fellow dancer and Strictly co-star Neil Jones at the time while Seann was also in a relationship with actress Rebecca Humphries.
Kiss-gate stole headlines for the BBC show that year, with a downcast Katya and Seann forced to make a grovelling apology for their antics on spin-off show It Takes Two.
The duo awkwardly caried on in the competition despite a huge public backlash – with Neil left to watch from the sidelines as they danced in the studio together just days after pictures of the snog hit newstands.
While they vowed not to carry on, sadly, Katya and Neil’s marriage never recovered from the scandal.
They confirmed their break-up on Instagram in a joint statement 10 months later.
“We will always love each other, just in a different way as friends. This will never change what a great team we make and we are really proud of everything we have achieved together,” they told fans.
Karen and Kevin Clifton
The Cliftons are another dancing couple whose marriage did not outlast their time on Strictly.
When Kevin was paired with comedian Susan Calman in 2017 there were whispers of backstage tension between him and wife Karen.
When Kevin and Susan were eliminated, the dancer took the opportunity to make a public apology to wife Karen.
“When Strictly is on I’m not the easiest person to live with. I go a bit mad. So I’d like to say first of all thanks to my wife for putting up with me,” Kevin told host Tess Daly.
The spouses shrugged off the gossip and following the series defiantly announced that they were heading off on tour together.
But just as they prepared to take their show on the road, Kevin dropped the bombshell that he and Karen had separated after three years.
The Grimbsy born star broke the news to stunned listeners when he appeared on the Chris Evans’ Radio 2 breakfast show in March 2018.
“We’re still the best of friends – we’ve got a lot of love and respect for each other,” he insisted. “I still see Karen pretty much every day… we’re always throwing ideas around and putting things together creatively.”
Their joint tour still went ahead and the pair continued to work together on Strictly for two more years before Kevin quit to pursue a career in theatre.
Documentary maker Stacey was supported by long-term boyfriend Sam when she lifted the Glitterball Trophy in December 2018 alongside dance mentor Kevin Clifton.
By the following March, Stacey’s three year relationship with the personal trainer was over.
A heartbroken Sam claimed that things changed between the pair when he noticed messages from Kevin on his girlfriend’s phone, prompting him to dub the professional a ‘snake’ and a ‘rat.’
A month later Stacey shared her first loved-up photo with ‘King’ Kevin as she affectionately calls him, confirming they were now an item.
The pair were seen backstage at the Strictly tour beaming with their arms around each other.
Three years on and the pair are still together and have moved into their first home as a couple.
Flame-haired Dianne called time on her relationship with boyfriend Anthony Quinlan not long after being partnered with YouTube sensation Joe Sugg.
Dianne’s chemistry with Joe was said to be undeniable backstage at the BBC dance show, with sources saying at the time: “Everyone’s been discussing how close they’d become. It did not go unnoticed by Anthony.”
Despite the rumours, Dianne and Joe continued to deny they were anything but dance partners as they progressed all the way to the final in 2018.
But the day after the pair finished in second place behind Kevin and Stacey, Joe finally shared their happy news with the world.
The vlogger gushed on Instagram: “I may not have won the glitterball but I’ve won something a million times more special.”
Getty Images Europe)
Seann sparked one of the biggest scandals to ever hit Strictly when he was papped smooching his married dancer partner Katya following a boozy pub session.
The comedian was swiftly dumped by partner Rebecca Humphries, who said she had suspected something was going on between the pair.
Seann apologised for his actions, calling the kiss a ‘one-off drunken mistake’.
Despite the heartache, Seann used the controversy as inspiration for his next comedy show where he called himself a ‘liar, a cheat and a bad boyfriend’ and poked fun of Katya’s husband Neil Jones.
At the end of his performance, an audience member called him a ‘f***ing legend’ for the kiss.
To which Seann replied: “Where were you ten months ago? I f***ing needed you.”
Speaking about. the incident this year, Seann said he is still ‘haunted’ by what happened.
“I felt like I’d destroyed my dreams, who I was and why I got up in the day.
“And it’s still all I think about. What my life could have been. What I could have made of myself is gone,” he reflected.
Married mum-of-two Louise Redknapp’s appearance on Strictly proved more life-changing than she could have ever imagined.
Prior to the show, the former Eternal singer was thought to be in one of the strongest marriages in showbiz after spending 20 happy years with former footballer Jamie Redknapp.
However, after finding herself back in the spotlight in 2016, Louise came to realise that ‘doing the mum thing’ wasn’t all she wanted anymore.
She later admitted she’d grown tired of ‘being a Stepford wife’ and said Strictly made her realise she’d given up on her dreams to focus on her family – and she was ready for a change.
As the competition raced towards the final, Louise said she started to feel ‘physically sick’ at the thought of never dancing again.
After the show came to an end, the mum-of-two relaunched her solo career and announced she was touring in musical Cabaret.
Then following months of rumours, the following October Louise confirmed that she and Jamie were living apart and she filed for divorce in December 2017.
Dave Benett/Getty Images for Hea)
Starring on Strictly at the same time as Louise in 2016, model Daisy had a blast on the show and quickly became good friends with many of the stars.
While she gained some new pals, the model lost her boyfriend when she split from beau Bradley ‘Frankie’ Wade’ during the competition.
Sources claimed the duo never spent any time together as Daisy threw herself into training with professional Aljaz Skorjanec.
She remains good friends with Alijaz and his wife Janette Manara and continues to speak to Louise Redknapp long after they competed on the show together.
Rugby ace Ben was partnered with blonde bombshell Kristina Rihanoff for his stint in the competition in 2013.
While the pair didn’t make the final, they found something in each other and embarked on a sizzling new romance.
It came after the demise of Ben’s 11 year marriage to wife Abby Blayney, with whom he shares two daughters.
Proving all their critics wrong, Ben and Kristina have stayed together and share four-year-old daughter Milena.
Before coupling up with Ben Cohen, professional Kristina was first charmed by another hunky sports star when producers paired her up with boxer Joe Calzaghe.
Joe split with his girlfriend Jo-Emma Larvin in 2009 and went public with his relationship with Kristina.
The couple continued to date for another four years, before eventually calling it quits with Kristina claiming ‘Joe found it difficult when I danced with other men.’
Mandatory Credit: Daniel Deme / WENN.com)
Fan favourite Flavia is another professional who has had her fair share of dealings with the so-called Strictly curse.
Flavia started her time on the show in a relationship with co-star and fellow professional Vincent Simone.
She then dumped Vincent after being paired with EastEnders heartthrob Matt Di Angelo in 2007.
Their romance lasted three years until 2010 when producers put Flavia with actor Jimi Mistry when he appeared on the show.
Weeks after announcing her split with Matt, Flavia went public with Jimi.
The happy couple are still together and celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary this year.
Countdown stunner Rachel split from her university sweetheart and husband of just 15 months shortly after her time on Strictly.
At the time, Rachel firmly denied her chemistry with dance partner Pasha Kovalev was anything to do with the break-up.
Then months after confirming her marriage split, Rachel and Pasha announced that they were an item.
The pair tied the knot in Las Vegas in 2019 and are parents to daughter Mave.
Rachel announced in April she is pregnant with their second child.
Georgia May Foote
Coronation Street’s Georgia was loved-up with fellow soap star Sean Ward when she signed up to the dance contest back in 2015.
She made it all the way to the final with Giovanni Pernice with her loved-up beau Sean supporting them every step of the way.
But shortly after the contest ended, shocking pictures emerged of Georgia and Giovanni kissing on a trip to Paris as they went public with their relationship.
Their relationship didn’t last a year with the couple separating shortly before the start of Strictly 2016 blaming their hectic schedules.
Italian heartthrob Giovanni Pernice has earned a reputation as something of a ladies man of the show.
He has enjoyed romances with dance partner Georgia May Foote and Pussycat Dolls star Ashley Roberts; who wasn’t even partnered with him.
He was also linked to Good Morning Britain’s Ranvir Singh lin 2020 and Debbie McGee in 2017, although the rumours about both ladies were dismissed.