Inside Amanda Abbington's life off screen as Strictly star quits

The actor's relationships with Jonathan Goodwin and Martin Freeman, as well as her pre-Strictly controversy.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 22: Amanda Abbington attends the
Amanda Abbington quit Strictly 2023. (Getty Images)

Amanda Abbington has quit Strictly Come Dancing, explaining simply that she is "unable to continue" with the competition.

She and Giovanni Pernice were some of the highest scorers of the series and have only offered vague details on why she has left, but what do we know about Abbington's life off screen?

From her relationships with Jonathan Goodwin and Martin Freeman to her headline-grabbing controversy before Strictly started, take a look inside the Sherlock star's life.

Relationship with Martin Freeman

Abbington was in a 16-year relationship with actor Martin Freeman, who she has two teenage children with - Joe and Grace.

The pair starred together in Sherlock, where Abbington was cast in her most famous TV role as Mary Morstan, the love interest of Freeman's character Dr John Watson.

British actress Amanda Abbington (L) and British actor Martin Freeman pose on the red carpet as they arrive to attend the 61st London Evening Standard Theatre Awards at the Old Vic Theatre in London on November 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'N        (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images)
Amanda Abbington and Martin Freeman have two children together. (AFP via Getty Images)

But while their on-screen characters were falling in love in episodes between 2014 and 2017, it coincided with their real-life split.

Abbington and Freeman have both confirmed they are on very good terms despite their split, talking often and even sharing career advice.

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However, Abbington opened up in an interview with Red magazine about the mental health struggles she suffered after their relationship broke down.

She said: "I had thought Martin was the love of my life. This wasn't meant to happen to us. I would wake every morning with a sudden lurch. 'Why do I feel sick?' I'd ask myself, in the darkness of the bedroom I no longer shared with my partner.

"And then, a split-second later, I'd remember what had happened. 'Oh,' I thought, as the tears started to fall. 'That's why'.

"It was one of the darkest moments of my life but, although I didn't know it then, it was also to mark the beginning of an extraordinary journey of self-discovery. It's still hard. I still have massive wobbles but that's understandable, I think."

Opening up on mental health and bullying

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 10:  Amanda Abbington poses in the winners room at the House of Fraser British Academy Television Awards at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, on May 10, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images)
The actor has spoken about having been bullied. (Getty Images)

Abbington has been open about the tough time she had during childhood after being bullied in primary school, and the knock-on effects even decades later.

She told The Guardian of being bullied: "It informed most of my life. I realised that when I went into therapy. You never come out of childhood unscathed, but you either have to process it and get past it, or hold on to it and have a not very nice life."

While starring in Sherlock, Abbington told The Big Issue: "I am fully aware that there are young, vulnerable girls that watch the show. I know what that is like because I was young and vulnerable once. I was bullied a lot as a kid. So when young girls come to me and say they are having trouble at home, or being bullied at school, a few words of encouragement can go a long way to making them feel less alone."

Strictly Come Dancing 2023,23-09-2023,TX1 LIVE SHOW,TX1,Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice,++LIVE SHOW++,BBC,Guy Levy
Amanda Abbington danced with Giovanni Pernice in Strictly. (BBC)

Earlier this year, Abington spoke to the Full Disclosure podcast where she admitted to "hating" herself after her split from Freeman when her self esteem had plummeted.

She told how she had even felt suicidal at one point, saying: "That was a genuine option for me, quite a few times in my life."

Abbington has also spoken to The Telegraph about having her menopause misdiagnosed as depression, where she said: "I’m still really angry that no one professional was there to help with my symptoms."

Engagement to Jonathan Goodwin

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: Jonathan Goodwin and Amanda Abbington attend the press night after party for
Amanda Abbington is engaged to Jonathan Goodwin. (Getty Images)

Britain's Got Talent finalist Jonathan Goodwin had been a social media friend of Abbington's for years, but in 2021 they grew closer, speaking on the phone for hours before finally meeting in person.

The pair met up in Vienna where Abbington was working, and escapologist Goodwin proposed within half an hour.

But just two weeks later, tragedy struck when Goodwin was rehearsing a strait jacket stunt in America and suffered a life-changing accident - he fell 30 feet, breaking his legs and spinal cord, which left him paralysed.

Abbington told The Guardian: "He told me we had a lot to talk about. I said: ‘Unless it’s about the wedding, then no, we don’t.’ Breaking up never flashed through my mind. I just thanked God he was alive."

Pre-Strictly trans controversy

Before Strictly 2023 began, Abbington hit headlines over comments on social media which lead to a backlash where she was accused of being transphobic.

In March 2023 she had tweeted about a drag show aimed at parents and babies, writing: "I lost quite a few followers for saying that a semi-naked man in thigh high boots dancing in a highly sexualised way shouldn't be performing in front of babies and it tells me everything I need to know about where society is heading. How do you not agree with me on this?"

After being accused of being a TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist) she then tweeted: "I never mentioned the trans community! How on earth is my post transphobic. I'm saying you do not perform that kind of act in front of BABIES. It's abhorrent."

The comments resurfaced after Abbington was announced for Strictly and she posted an Instagram video explaining: "Apparently I'm trending on Twitter. I'm not on Twitter anymore. I left voluntarily because I don't like it over there anymore.

"I'm trending because people are going to boycott Strictly and I think it's because of a tweet I made back in March regarding a drag show."

"I'm not transphobic, I'm not a transphobic person, I'm a firm supporter of the legitimate trans community, I always have been."

She added: "I'm sorry if you feel like you need to boycott Strictly for a tweet I made about a drag show but I don't think 12-year-olds should be doing overly-sexualised drag acts."

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