A few weeks into the latest series of Strictly Come Dancing and already rumours are rife that the dreaded Strictly curse has struck again.
Fans are convinced Nikita Kuzmin and Tilly Ramsay could be getting closer because of their strong dancefloor chemistry.
Their speculation was fanned even more when his girlfriend Nicole Wirt posted a cryptic message on social media saying: “Overthinking never led me anywhere good.”
At the time of writing, Nikita and Nicole are still happily together (and Nicole has since sent them messages of support), but it does beg the question, who’s next on the list to be struck with the Strictly curse that raises its head almost every season?
Is the Strictly curse necessarily a bad thing?
Well, Craig Revel Horwood thinks not.
He has said: “People call it the Strictly curse but I always think of it as the Strictly blessing. People have fallen in love, had children, got married.
“They might have been in rotten relationships with people they didn’t even like and didn’t know until they met someone else.
“People don’t fall off the wagon if they’re already in love. I think it’s great. It’s better than meeting online – at least you know what they look like, and you know how they dance.”
Here, we look back through the mists of time to remember the stars who split from their partners and the couples who found blissful love on Strictly…
Natasha Kaplinsky and Brendan Cole
Way back in series one, dancers Brendan Cole and Camilla Dallerup were love’s young dream.
But when he was paired up with newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky, the couple split amid rumours Brendan and his celeb partner had grown close.
Although Camilla described the split like “a mini death”, neither Brendan or Natasha ever confirmed they had a fling.
However, in an interview in 2018, Brendan admitted the intimacy of dance can be distracting.
“I didn’t cross any lines with Natasha,” he admitted. “I was single. Camilla had ended the relationship very early on in the series so what happened happened after that.
“It was a harrowing time – winning the show as much as my friendship with Natasha. On the other hand it was like, holy Moses. It can ruin a marriage so easily.”
Brendan and Natasha didn’t last, with the pro dancer now happily married to wife Zoe.
Camilla, too, is married. She wed Hollyoaks star Kevin Sacre in 2010.
Joe Calzaghe and Kristina Rihanoff
When boxer Joe Calzaghe was signed up to appear in the 2009 series of Strictly, he was five years into a relationship with Jo-Emma Larvin.
But before Joe had even met his partner Kristina Rihanoff, Jo-Emma was so concerned about the curse, she outright asked him: “Don’t they all end up having affairs?”
Within a week of training, she and Joe had broken up.
“Make of that what you will,” she said years later. “It all just happened so fast, I was really confused. I was a mess.”
Joe and Kristina ended up dating for the next four years. They split in 2013, with Kristina’s work schedule pushing them apart.
Ben Cohen and Kristina Rihanoff
In 2013, Kristina was the cat who got the cream when she was paired with rugby player Ben Cohen.
However, no sooner had the series ended and the buff beefcake revealed he and Abby, his wife of 11 years, had parted company.
Ben was adamant that the split was nothing to do with Kristina, in spite of being snapped arm in arm on a tube.
A few weeks later, Ben and Kristina confirmed they were an item, but stressed it happened long after Ben’s split from Abby.
The couple have since gone on to become parents to a little girl and are still happily loved up.
Matt Di Angelo and Flavia Cacace
In 2007, Flavia Cacace reportedly ditched Vincent Simone – her long-term boyfriend and dance partner of eight-years – for EastEnders hunk Matt Di Angelo.
However, Matt admitted it took him a while to work out what the story was between the pair, as there was a lot of acting involved on the dancefloor.
“Sometimes we had to look like we wanted to rip each other’s clothes off. I wasn’t sure what was real and what wasn’t,” he said in an interview after they got together.
“It wasn’t until the final I realised I fancied her. We were together from 8am till 3am and because she was so excited, she looked extra beautiful.”
Despite not going public until after the series, Vincent admitted he had been infuriated by Matt’s flirting and late-night phone calls.
But Matt was adamant nothing was going on to start with.
“The funny thing was the story didn’t start off as true, but the more you read it, the more you started to believe it and actually act on it,” he told the Daily Mail.
Flavia and Matt enjoyed a three-year relationship but split in 2010. Flavia went on to dance with Jimi Mistry and they married in 2013.
Ali Bastian and Brian Fortuna
Not all relationships come about amid a scandal, some can be a beautiful fairy tales.
In 2009, Hollyoaks actress Ali Bastian and her dance partner Brian Fortuna fell for each other on the dancefloor.
They ended up enjoying a year-long romance.
Strictly curse: Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev
Countdown star Rachel Riley went into Strictly a married woman, but as the series progressed, it emerged that she and her husband Jamie Gilbert had split.
It wasn’t long before she and Strictly partner Pasha Kovalev confirmed they were dating, but they insisted there was no overlap between the two romances.
The pair tied the knot in a secret ceremony in Las Vegas in June 2019 and they are now parents to a little girl called Maven.
Their second baby is due any day.
Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev
It was a good year for EastEnders star Kara Tointon in 2010.
Not only did she take home the Strictly glitter ball, she also won the heart of her dancer Artem Chigvintsev.
However, after three years of being together they split and the actress told The Telegraph: “We are not together. We’re fine, but we aren’t a couple any more.”
According to Kara the pair had found it difficult to spend time together as Artem’s visa meant he was unable to stay in the UK permanently.
She now has two children with fiancé Marius Jensen.
Strictly curse: Georgia May-Foote and Giovanni Pernice
When Coronation Street star Georgia signed up for Strictly in 2015, she was dating her co-star Sean Ward.
And, throughout the series she maintained her close friendship with dance partner Giovanni Pernice was just that.
However, once the series ended, she and Sean split and she and Giovanni embarked on a brief relationship.
She admitted: “Gio is everything to me. I’m 100% happy with Gio. He’s smitten and I’m the same. We trust each other.
“We fell in love as friends before anything happened.”
Sadly, the couple went their separate ways just before the next series.
Giovanni and Ashley Roberts
Even though he was busy dancing with Steps star Faye Tozer in 2018, Giovanni managed to catch the eye of Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts, who was partnered with Pasha Kovalev.
Though it was rumoured they were together during the series, the pair kept their traps shut until they were snapped smooching in Miami.
Ashley later admitted: “I never thought anyone would ever make me smile, laugh and steal my heart as fast as you did!! I love you amore.”
Their relationship came to an end after a year with a shock split, but they vowed to remain friends.
Strictly curse: Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton
Even her boyfirend of the time Sam Tucknott was amazed by their skills.
However, three months after they scooped the title, Stacey and Sam were no more – reportedly because he was paranoid about Stacey’s relationship with Kevin.
His worst fears appeared to have come true when Stacey and Kevin started dating.
They are still happily together today.
Strictly Come Dancing returns next Saturday (October 16) at 7pm.
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