Strictly contestant Alexandra Burke has opened up about the heartbreaking moment she decided to quit the show – and how it was only wise words from her auntie that made her re-consider.
On the 28 August, the launch of the new series was being filmed, but the same day, Alex lost her mum, the former Soul II Soul singer Melissa Bell. She was just 53.
Melissa had been suffering from kidney failure for nine years, and Alexandra said the horror of her death plunged her into such a state of despair that she didn’t know if she could honour her Strictly commitment.
Speaking to The Sun, the 2008 X Factor winner revealed that she even contacted her manager and the show’s producers to say she was having seconds thoughts.
“I remember sitting outside the hospital and texting my manager to say: ‘I don’t know if I should do this.’ I spoke to the producers and said: ‘I’m not sure I should be here,’” Alexandra told the paper.
Eventually, a pep talk from her aunt Sonia persuaded Alexandra to keep her place on the show, but she says her decision has caused some to question how she could get through it, given her recent loss, and even accuse her of not being affected by her mother’s passing.
“People have asked: ‘How can she do this?’ and said I’m obviously not upset about my mum because I’ve gone straight on TV. That’s really upsetting to read.
“They have no idea how much this show meant to my mum and how much it meant to me to be asked to be part of it,” she told the paper, adding, a pithy: “Thank you for your concern but you know nothing about me, what my mum went through or what my family are currently going through’.”
It’s clear from her interview that Alex has been hugely affected by her loss – and she is quite open about her feelings of sadness and bereavement, and how she is doing her best to manage them and continue with her work.
“My heart is breaking, I’ve lost my mum, and believe me, if I could put everything in a box and throw it in the ocean and never feel this way again, I would. But, right now, I’m dealing with it the best way I can.
“I’m not taking it day by day, I’m taking it second by second,” she said.
Just two weeks ago, her 39 points out of 40 score following her jive to Tina Turner’s Proud Mary caused the star to break down in tears and tell show host Claudia Winkleman ‘I just wish my mum was here’.
The 29-year-old is paired with pro dancer Gorka Marquez, and they last night wowed the judges by performing the first Argentine Tango of the current series.
Their sizzling routine earned her joint top place on the leader board with Eastenders’ actor Davood Ghadami.