The arrival of Strictly Come Dancing 2020 provided people across the UK with a welcome distraction from the coronavirus pandemic, letting viewers lose themselves in a sea of glitter, sequins and rip-roaring dances.
Among the many talking points of this year’s show – from Janet Jackson publicly showing support for Bill Bailey to Anton Du Beke’s temporary stint as a judge – there has also been much discussion about a curious phenomenon on the programme – the famous Strictly curse.
Over the past 16 years that Strictly has aired on the BBC, rumours have swirled regarding potential blossoming romances between celebrity contestants and professional dancers.
While some of the rumours have been nothing but talk, others have been grounded in truth, with several couples who met on the show remaining together to do this day.
So what is the Strictly Come Dancing curse?
The Strictly Come Dancing curse doesn’t simply refer to couples meeting and falling in love while competing on the show.
The supposed curse, as it is known, refers to individuals taking part in Strictly who are already in relationships, who end up finding romance with fellow participants.
A couple of years ago, Strictly Come Dancing co-presenter Claudia Winkleman shared her views on the curse, telling Digital Spy: ‘I understand, it’s very intense. 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.’
She continued, stating: ‘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.’
Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped some people from getting together during filming.
Which couples has the Strictly Come Dancing curse affected?
One of the most significant cases of the Strictly curse of recent years occurred in 2018, when comedian Seann Walsh was photographed kissing his professional partner Katya Jones.
Katya was married to fellow dancer Neil Jones at the time, while Seann was in a relationship with actor Rebecca Humphries.
After the pictures emerged, Katya shared a statement on Twitter, writing: ‘I’m so sorry about any offence or hurt I may have caused with my actions.
‘I wasn’t thinking and it was a one-off mistake after some drinks. I love my husband and we are very happy together, this is not a reflection on our relationship.’
In August 2019, she and Neil announced their separation after 11 years together, while Seann and Rebecca split shortly after the incident.
In 2018, television presenter Stacey Dooley won the sixteenth series of Strictly Come Dancing with her partner, Kevin Clifton.
The couple confirmed they were in a relationship by April the next year. But while Stacey was competing in Strictly, she had been in a relationship with personal trainer Sam Tucknott.
Stacey has denied she and Kevin became romantically involved while taking part in the competition, stating: ‘It was much later down the line for us.’
Kevin, on the other hand, was previously married to fellow Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer Karen Hauer, announcing their split in March 2018 after three years of marriage.
After ending Strictly as runners-up in 2018, Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell got together following much speculation about the state of their relationship.
Dianne split from her boyfriend, Emmerdale actor Anthony Quinlan, while taking part in the competition.
However, the dancer previously said she doesn’t believe in the Strictly curse.
‘Obviously we spend so many hours with our partner but we’re professional dancers we have done this our whole lives,’ she told Heart in October 2019.
‘It’s normal for us it doesn’t mean just because you spend so much time together you’re going to end up together.’
In November 2013, Countdown star Rachel Riley announced that she was separating from her husband Jamie Gilbert, who she met at university.
Later that year, she and her Strictly dance partner Pasha Kovalev started dating, with the couple marrying in June 2019 and welcoming their first child six months later.
Are there any romances on the 2020 Strictly series?
The most high-profile rumoured romance on this year’s series of Strictly is the apparent connection between singer HRVY and Eastenders actor Maisie Smith.
Despite both HRVY and Maisie previously describing each other as good friends, they have both also hinted that they could be interested in dating each other when the show is over.
Maisie, 19, told The Sun earlier this month that while she doesn’t want to date him ‘right now’ she is ‘enjoying getting to know him’.
‘But I have only seen him for a couple of hours a week so I am still enjoying getting to know him.
‘I don’t know what would happen in the future, but for now we are getting along really well as friends.’
Meanwhile HRVY, 21, told The Sun that he would like to go out for dinner with Maisie when the competition is over.
‘I’m sure at one point, when we can, Maisie and I will go out for dinner,’ he said.
‘I’m pretty sure she’s single too. I haven’t actually asked, but if we ever go for a meal, I’ll make sure I check first.’
However, HRVY added that right now his focus is on the dancing and reaching the final.
Strictly Come Dancing continues tonight at 7.15pm on BBC One.
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