'Strictly' curse: What is it and who has fallen for it?

Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton found love on Strictly, while Seann Walsh and Katya Jones were involved in a cheating scandal. (BBC)
Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton found love on Strictly, while Seann Walsh and Katya Jones were involved in a cheating scandal. (BBC)

Strictly Come Dancing might seem like one of the most feel-good shows on TV, but there's a darker side to the dance contest that's a little more difficult for the celebrities' other halves to stomach.

The Strictly Curse has become almost as famous a part of the show as the dances and costumes, with many a celebrity contestant falling for their pro dancer partner over the years.

Read more: All the winners of Strictly and what they did next

With 2022's couples due to be matched in the launch show on Friday, 23 September, who will sparks fly between this year?

Natasha Kaplinsky and Brendan Cole

Natasha Kaplinsky and Brendan Cole were Strictly dance partners in 2004 (Credit: PA)
Natasha Kaplinsky and Brendan Cole were Strictly dance partners in 2004 (Credit: PA)

The Strictly Curse dates right back to series one, where viewers couldn't help but notice the chemistry between Natasha Kaplinsky and Brendan Cole.

While rumours flew about the pair, they never admitted to a romance — although Cole did end his engagement to fellow Strictly pro Camilla Dallerup during the series.

Read more: All the Dancing On Ice 2022 contestants

“There was chemistry, of course, and I certainly fell in love with dancing, but I did not fall in love with Brendan,” Kaplinsky has said.

Joe Calzaghe and Kristina Rihanoff

Joe Calzaghe and Kristina Rihanoff arriving at the Dictator UK film premiere held at the Royal Festival Hall, London.   (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
The couple stayed together for four years. (Yui Mok/PA Images)

A couple of the pro dancers' names come up time and again in relation to 'the Curse', and Kristina Rihanoff first dabbled in a partner romance with boxer Joe Calzaghe.

He left his girlfriend of five years just one week into training for the 2009 show and ended up in a relationship with Rihanoff that lasted for four years — much longer than his ballroom stint.

Read more: Sophie Ellis-Bextor 'could have done with emotional support' during Strictly

But while the couple's relationship fizzled out, it wasn't the last time Rihanoff found love on the dancefloor...

Ben Cohen and Kristina Rihanoff

Ben Cohen and Kristina Rihanoff at the NTAs 2021 (Getty Images)
Kristina Rihanoff found lasting love with Ben Cohen. (Getty Images)

One of the best known cases of the Strictly Curse involved rugby champion Ben Cohen, who left his wife, the mother of his twin daughters, in 2014 after appearing in the 2013 series.

He later announced that he was in a relationship with Rihanoff and the couple are still together now, having welcomed a daughter in 2016.

Cohen's ex-wife Abby Blayney unsurprisingly had something to say about her former husband's time on the show, but has since apologised for insulting Rihanoff.

Matt Di Angelo and Flavia Cacace

LONDON - APRIL 20:  Matt Di Angelo and Flavia Cacace attend the British Academy Television Awards 2008 held at The Palladium Theatre on April 20, 2008 in London, England.  (Photo by Jon Furniss/WireImage)  *** Local Caption ***
Flavia Cacace dated Matt Di Angelo (pictured), but eventually married Jimi Mistry. (Jon Furniss/WireImage)

EastEnders actor Matt Di Angelo got together with his dance partner Flavia Cacace in 2007, causing drama backstage as Cacace had been in a relationship with fellow Strictly pro Vincent Simone.

Her romance with Di Angelo lasted until 2010, but things ended very happily for Cacace who went on to marry her 2010 show partner, actor Jimi Mistry.

Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26: Pasha Kovalev with TV personality Rachel Riley attends the 6th Annual Algemeiner J100 Gala at Gotham Hall on September 26, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev have built a happy life together. (Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

When Countdown star Rachel Riley joined the contest in 2013, she had only been married for a year to her university sweetheart.

However, she split with Jamie Gilbert just months after the show and later announced that she was in a relationship with dance partner Pasha Kovalev.

Read more: Pasha Kovalev protects pregnant wife Rachel Riley from trolls

Theirs has been a long-lasting romance - they married in Las Vegas in 2019 and are currently expecting their second child.

Georgia May Foote and Giovanni Pernice

<p>Nothing tops Strictly when it comes to providing the public with a turbulent relationship or two, does it? This year it was Corrie star Georgia and dancer Gio’s turn. They hooked up when they were paired together on the BBC show last year, but the couple called off their engagement this October amid rumours she was jealous of his new dancer partner Laura Whitmore. </p>
Georgia May Foote and Giovanni Pernice briefly dated. (Getty)

Coronation Street star and 2015 contestant Georgia May Foote was in a relationship with her cobbles co-star Sean Ward when she signed up to Strictly.

Not long after the series ended she announced their split and later confirmed she was dating dance partner Giovanni Pernice, who she stayed with until August 2016.

Seann Walsh and Katya Jones

Seann Walsh with Katya Jones (PA Images)
Seann Walsh and Katya Jones were caught kissing with disastrous relationship consequences. (PA Images)

Comedian Seann Walsh didn't leave his partner Rebecca Humphries or Katya's Strictly dancer husband Neil Jones laughing in 2018 when photos emerged of them kissing on a night out.

Things got even worse when it came out that the night in question had been Humphries' birthday and that he had argued about not coming home to celebrate with her.

Both Walsh and Jones apologised to viewers for the "drunken mistake", but much more memorable was Humphries' open letter where she revealed that he had not in fact apologised to her, had displayed some toxic behaviour throughout their relationship, mocked him for adding an extra "n" to his name, and told him she was "keeping the cat".

Unfortunately, Katya and Neil Jones' marriage never recovered from the scandal despite initially trying to make things work, and they eventually split in 2019.

Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton

Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton won the show last year and are now a couple (Credit: BBC)
The couple won the show...and each other's hearts. (BBC)

Another of the more memorable relationships to come from the ballroom was 2018 winning couple Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton.

While Clifton had already split from Strictly dancer wife Karen Hauer earlier that year, Dooley was still in a relationship with Sam Tucknott who gave a no-holds-barred tabloid interview about his thoughts on Clifton, labelling him "a full on p***k".

Read more: Stacey Dooley announces she and Kevin Clifton are expecting their first baby

He also called the show "sleazy" and renamed it "Strictly Come Dating" after Dooley and Clifton, who are still together, announced their relationship in 2019 - and in 2022, they revealed that they are expecting their first baby.

Another of Clifton's former dance partners, Louise Redknapp, split from husband of nearly 20 years Jamie Redknapp after appearing in the 2016 series.

While there was no suggestion that she had had an affair with Clifton, she said that Strictly had opened her eyes to what her life could be like.

Adam Peaty and Katya Jones

In the 2021 series, viewers speculated that Olympic swimmer Adam Peaty had almost kissed his partner Katya Jones towards the end of their week four Argentine Tango, something that Peaty strongly denied.

He tweeted: “To everyone who wants to see what they want, your comments have real life consequences. I will not be overcome or lowered by your gossip. Protect your energy.”

Peaty's partner Eiri Munro also made a TikTok mocking the rumours, although they did later split.

AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington

Viewers fully believed Kai and AJ were a couple. (BBC)
Viewers fully believed Kai and AJ were a couple. (BBC)

The should-have-been finalists' chemistry on the dancefloor was so electric that it prompted no end of romance rumours in 2021.

But the only heartbreak that Widdrington, who was in his first year as a pro, and TV presenter Odudu really suffered was in having to drop out of the final at the last minute because of Odudu being injured.

They created some memorable moments in the ballroom, with the judges saying Odudu could have been a pro if she'd started dancing earlier in life.

Odudu admitted that no one had been sliding into her DMs during the series because their romantic dances were so believable, while Widdrington later started dating pro cast co-star Nadiya Bychkova.

Watch: Who is Strictly's Helen Skelton?