Inside the Strictly Curse which cost Louise Redknapp her marriage… but helped Stacey Dooley find her soulmate

When the Strictly Curse strikes, it can end marriages – and bring soulmates together.

Inside the Strictly Curse which cost Louise Redknapp her marriage… but helped Stacey Dooley find her soulmate.

Louise Redknapp, 46

What happened?

Pop star Louise’s 19-year marriage to footballer Jamie, 48, crumbled several months after the 2016 Strictly final and they divorced in 2017.

There were rumours the mum of two’s closeness with dance partner Kevin Clifton had played a part in the break-up – especially as his marriage to fellow pro dancer Karen Clifton also collapsed around the same time.

Both denied any romance, and by 2019 they’d unfollowed each other on social media and she later confirmed that they no longer speak.

But the gossip clearly caused friction in her marriage at the time, with Jamie receiving a ribbing from fellow A League Of Their Own stars James Corden, Freddie Flintoff and Jack Whitehall.

Jamie is now expecting a baby boy with new girlfriend Frida Andersson-Lourie, 37, while Louise is single.

Louise says “I still wish I had done things differently, because I feel like I hurt a lot of people – and I will always be sorry for that.”

Susanna Reid, 50

What happened?

Like Louise, GMB presenter Susanna was plagued  by romance rumours while paired with Kevin Clifton on series 11 of the show in 2013.

She denies Strictly played any part in the ending of her 16-year relationship with journalist Dominic Cotton, 54, instead calling it a “coincidence”.

But her long-term partner’s absence from the Strictly audience throughout her time in the ballroom was a big talking point of the series, and they split two months after the show ended.

Kevin later admitted he tried to avoid a steamy rumba during their partnership (perhaps to prevent adding fuel to the fire).

Susanna says “Kevin and I got on like a house on fire and Strictly was not responsible for the break-up of my relationship. I’m still fantastic friends with my ex and I’m still really good friends with Kevin as well.” 

Seann Walsh, 35

What happened?

Who could forget that photo of comedian Seann snogging his dance partner Katya Jones, 32, during a night out in October 2018?

The snap caused uproar – not least because Seann’s girlfriend, 33-year-old actress Rebecca Humphries, had been publicly supporting him throughout the show and it was taken on her birthday.

Meanwhile, Katya was married to fellow Strictly pro Neil Jones, 39.

While the kiss didn’t lead to the pair getting together, Seann’s relationship immediately came to an end, with his girlfriend famously posting to Insta: “My name is Rebecca Humphries and I’m not a victim.” A year later, Katya and Neil separated.

Seann says “I made a mistake, which I’m very sorry for – sorry for the hurt that I’ve caused.

"You never think about the extent of the damage you’re going to do, in a moment of, you know, the mistake that you’ve made.”

Natasha Kaplinsky, 48

What happened?

We were all mesmerised by the chemistry between newsreader Natasha and her partner Brendan Cole, 45, during the very first series of the show in 2004.

But while their undeniable bond no doubt helped them pick up the Glitterball trophy, it also meant they had to weather rumours of an affair, despite BBC presenter Natasha being with her partner of 12 years, management consultant Mike Bernard, 51, and Brendan being engaged to fellow dancer Camilla Dallerup, 47. 

Both ended up calling it quits with their respective partners not long after their victory, though the pair have always remained coy over whether anything did ever happen away from the dance floor.

Natasha says “There was chemistry, and I certainly fell in love with dancing, but I did not fall in love with Brendan.”

Stacey Dooley, 34 and Kevin Clifton, 38

What happened?

Documentary-maker Stace might have been with boyfriend Sam Tucknott, 31, for five years, but things appeared to go downhill after she got close to Kevin Clifton (yes, him again) during their 13-week-long partnership in the 2018 series, which they went on to win.

Stacey and Sam then called time on their relationship in April 2019, with the PT branding Kevin a “love rat” after claims he discovered flirty text messages between the two. Four months after they lifted the Glitterball trophy, Stacey and Kevin confirmed their romance and have since lived happily ever after.  

Stacey says “We finished the show, and we went off. Kev lived in London, I was in Brighton.

"You know, we started seeing each other months after the show had finished.

"By then there was a brilliant foundation. We were so fond of one another. There was respect – Kev has always respected me and I respected him.” 

Dianne Buswell, 32 and Joe Sugg, 29

What happened?

Dianne and Joe were paired together during series 16 of the show in 2018, but while YouTuber Joe was single at the time, Dianne was in a long-distance relationship with Emmerdale star Anthony Quinlan.

Just a few weeks later, Dianne and Anthony, 36, called it quits, and the connection between Dianne and Joe was undeniable.

While they insist nothing happened during the competition, a month after coming second to Stacey and Kevin, they officially got together.

They’ve since moved out of London and bought a gorgeous house in the countryside. Bliss.

Dianne says “Obviously with all your Strictly partners you have a connection, because you’re teaching them something new and they really trust you, but with Joe it was a very, very special connection.

"He’s incredible and I’ve never met anyone like him.”

Joe Calzaghe, 49 and Kristina Rihanoff, 43

What happened?

Former boxer Joe had just begun his Strictly journey in 2009 when his home life was KO’d.

Just a week after he was partnered with Kristina, he split with his model girlfriend of five years, Jo-Emma Larvin, 42, and began a relationship with his Russian dance partner soon afterwards.

They were together for four years and there was even talk of marriage, but they split in August 2013 due to their conflicting schedules.

Kristina admitted that being partnered with Jason Donovan, 53, in 2011, meant that she “neglected” her boyfriend due to work commitments.

Kristina says “I accept that I neglected him during the series, but when I have a responsibility to someone professionally that takes priority over everything else – it always has done. Joe was supportive, but I know he did feel lonely and left out.”

Ben Cohen, 42 and Kristina Rihanoff

What happened?

In 2013, months after splitting from Joe, Kristina again grew close to one of her partners – this time rugby star Ben, despite him being married to childhood sweetheart Abby, 42.

Both denied any romance, but Ben ended his 11-year marriage to the mother of his twin daughters Harriette and Isabelle, 13, the following year.

He got together with Kristina and divorced Abby in March 2016 – two months after the new couple welcomed their daughter Milena, five.

They now live in a swanky pad in Northampton.

Kristina says “Ben’s said it many times and I’ll say it again – I wasn’t involved in the break-up of his marriage.”

Flavia Cacace, 41 and Matt Di Angelo, 34 – and Jimi Mistry, 48

What happened?

Pro dancer Flavia’s experiences with the Strictly Curse could be the most scandalous of all.

Just two weeks after being partnered with EastEnders star Matt Di Angelo in 2007, she ended her relationship with fellow dancer Vincent Simone, 42, who she’d been with for 11 years

She went public with the actor, who was just 20 at the time, after the show’s final.

Their relationship lasted two years before they split in 2010 – but in a shock twist, a few weeks later Flavia admitted she was dating her latest dance partner, actor Jimi Mistry, who she then wed in 2013.

Flavia says “Dancing with Matt made my heart flutter. Vincent blames Matt for us breaking up. But it’s not Matt’s fault. It’s my fault for falling out of love with Vincent.”

Rachel Riley, 35 and Pasha Kovalev, 41

What happened?

Countdown’s golden girl Rachel still insists that her pro partner Pasha was not the cause of her split from her university sweetheart and husband of 15 months Jamie Gilbert, 35.

The pair broke up shortly after she was voted off the show in November 2013.

After months of speculation, Pasha and Rachel confirmed their relationship status in September 2014.

They’ve since made it official after eloping to Las Vegas for a quickie wedding in June 2019 and had daughter Maven six months later, with another baby on the way soon.

Rachel says “[Strictly] serves as a magnifying glass that shows up pre-existing fault lines.” 

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