Stacey Dooley shares concern she felt for Kevin Clifton when theatres closed

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Stacey Dooley has spoken of the concern she felt for her partner Kevin Clifton after the theatres closed due to the Covid pandemic and he was unable to work.

The couple met when they were paired on Strictly Come Dancing in 2018, before Clifton announced his departure after seven years on the programme in 2019 to pursue musical theatre.

They appeared together on the first episode of the new series of Dooley’s podcast Fresh Starts, where Clifton said: “I’d just left the show (Strictly) and sort of made this announcement and I knew that I was going into Strictly Ballroom, the musical, and that was happening soon.

Strictly Come Dancing 2018
The couple won Strictly Come Dancing together (Guy Levy/BBC)

“That was going at about the same time Strictly was starting that year and then I got told that it had to be moved on a year because of Covid.

“Remember that night where my agent called me and said, ‘Look, this is a nightmare, what’s happening with Covid. They have taken the decision to open in September 2022’?

“That was a real difficult moment wasn’t it? I was going, ‘right, as I sit here, right now, I’ve got nothing until September 22 in the diary’.”

“A couple of months pass, theatres aren’t opening. It’s not looking like they’re going to open any time soon.

“I’ve left the biggest TV show to do this, and now… I’m sat on the sofa doing nothing. It’s like someone put a stop sign in front of that path and goes, ‘You can’t come down here’.”

Dooley added: “And then you didn’t do anything for over a year and I remember you trying to keep yourself busy.

“I just felt for you because I was in a slightly different position. My crew’s tiny and they were desperate for TV content, so I was able to continue to work.”

Singin’ in the Rain at Sadlers Wells
Kevin Clifton (right) in Singin’ in the Rain (Yui Mok/PA)

Clifton continued: “I was really pleased that you got to go and work … but it’s hard when you’re sat at home going, ‘I wish I could just work. I don’t know what else I can do. I can busy myself as much as possible at home’.

“It starts feeling a bit redundant. I’m not used to having all that time on my hands. It felt strange.”

Dooley said Clifton was happy for her that she could work but she was concerned about how he was coping.

She said: “He’s celebrating the work coming in for me and I thought, ‘Kevin is going to sit at home and drive himself nuts because this is just so foreign, this is so unfamiliar to him.’

“He’s always been so busy since he was a kid and I think there was certainly a couple of times where you sort of felt wobbly?

“But I think every other performer all over Britain was in exactly the same boat.

“I’m just so made up for you. I always knew, you know, they can’t close theatres forever. I knew they’ve got to open at some point, Kev just needs to hold out until that day comes. And you did! Well done, sweetheart. You’ve got two shows today. It’s your fresh start, baby!”

Fresh Starts is available on BBC Sounds.

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