'Strictly' dancer Kevin Clifton recalls AJ Pritchard trying to steal partner Stacey Dooley

Amy West
AJ Pritchard (left) tried to bag Stacey Dooley as his dance partner in last year's 'Strictly Come Dancing', says fellow professional Kevin Clifton (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Strictly Come Dancing professionals worry about which celebrity from the line-up they’re going to be paired with every series. Often, they have their eye on someone in particular - someone who suits their height, perhaps, or seems like they could go all the way to the final?

But the uneasiness grows even stronger when two dancers on the show want the same partner; which is exactly what happened to Kevin Clifton when AJ Pritchard tried to nab Stacey Dooley for himself during the show’s compatibility trials in 2018.

“Last year with Stacey in the salsa circle, I was going for it… overdoing it,” Clifton recalls during a one-off special set to air on Saturday 14 September.

Read more: 'Strictly' bosses use 'speed dating' method for pairing celebrities

“At one point, we were on a coffee break and AJ interrupted us in the middle of us talking and took her away. He wanted to get to know her and see what she was about.

“I was like, “It’s not Love Island, mate,” Clifton adds, according to The Sun.

Clifton is currently dating investigative journalist and television presenter Dooley (centre) (Photo by Katja Ogrin/Getty Images)

Fortunately, Clifton ended up being partnered with presenter Dooley and going on to win the series, beating runners-up Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell, Faye Tozer and Giovanni Pernice, and Ashley Roberts and Pasha Kovalev.

Pritchard was ultimately paired with paralympic swimmer Lauren Steadman and was eliminated during Week 11.

Read more: Soap star to replace Jamie Laing on 'Strictly Come Dancing'

But the result of the competition isn’t the only thing that might have turned out differently if Pritchard had managed to woo Dooley away, as she and Clifton are currently dating.

Strictly Come Dancing finalists Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton leave BBC Broadcasting House in London after appearing on the Chris Evans radio show. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)

The couple announced that they were in a relationship after Dooley confirmed that she’d split from long-term boyfriend Sam Tucknott during her time on the contest.

Ahead of Strictly’s 2019 series, it’s been announced that Clifton will be dancing with media personality Anneka Rice and Pritchard is paired up with YouTuber Saffron Barker.