Strictly Come Dancing’s Bruno Tonioli was in tears during a radio interview today as he recalled the deaths of several loved ones in a short space of time.
Appearing on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, the dancer became noticeably choked up as he spoke about a devastating period of saying goodbye to friends and family.
Bruno explained his “seven-year nightmare” began in 1994 with the death of his beloved mother.
“She was supposed to come to London in the summer and I spoke to her the week before on the phone,” he said.
“It was a Saturday afternoon and I got the phone call. It was brutal. ‘Your mother is dead’. I mean, what? Horrendous. I had to rush back to Italy in a totally distraught state. My father was bewildered.”
Bruno, 62, said he later found out his mother hadn’t told him the extent of her medical problems: he knew she had high blood pressure but after she passed away, he found medications in her home pointing to heart troubles.
“[She was protecting me],” he said. “But I would do the same. I’d be worried all the time, on the phone every day if I had known she wasn’t well.”
And Bruno’s heartbreak didn’t end there…
“Between 1994 and 2000 everyone passed away,” he recalled. “Not just my mum, but my grandma, my grandfather, very close friends in London.
“It was a relentless period where you have knock after knock. It was seven years of nightmare. I was lucky to have a group of very close friends to support me.”
Bruno then became tearful as he introduced one of his chosen songs, Rod Stewart’s In My Life.
“This song is a poem,” said Bruno.
“I love Rod Stewart’s version because of his voice, he’s such a great performer. This song, for me, is dedicated to all those people who have passed away.
“In spite of what happened in my life… I might have moved away but they are still part of me.”
Breaking off, he said: “I’m getting emotional…”
Kirsty Young then stepped in to suggest they just played the song, while Bruno composed himself.