reality tv

Strictly Cursed: The UK reality show that will ruin your relationship.


Rebecca Humphries had been dating her boyfriend, 32-year-old British comedian Seann Walsh, for five years when she began to suspect he was lying to her.

It all started in September, when Walsh began competing on British television show Strictly Come Dancingmuch like Australia’s own Dancing With the Stars

Celebrities are paired with professional dancers and compete in a ballroom dancing competition. Walsh was paired with a 29-year-old woman named Katya Jones.

In an open letter posted to Twitter on October 9, Humphries recalled an event that took place on her birthday, one week prior.

“It was my birthday,” she wrote. “I was alone at home when Sean texted at 10pm saying the two of them [Walsh and Jones] were going for an innocent drink.

“We spoke and I told him, not for the first time, that his actions over the past three weeks had led me to believe something inappropriate was going on. He aggressively, and repeatedly, called me a psycho/nuts/mental. As he has done countless times throughout our relationship when I’ve questioned his inappropriate, hurtful behaviour…”

On that night, October 3, pictures were taken of Walsh and his dance partner, Jones, who is married to fellow dancer Neil Jones, kissing outside a London pub.

And there it was again – the ‘Strictly curse’ that’s haunted the TV show since its inception.

Over the programs 16 seasons, no less than 10 relationships have fallen apart. The not-so-hidden undercurrent of the show has been breakups, called off engagements and divorces.

Strictly Come Dancing requires an enormous time commitment from participants, with some spending up to eight hours a day with their dance partner.

Take Georgia May Foote for example who broke up with boyfriend Sean Ward during the filming of Strictly Come Dancing in 2015. She was later seen kissing her dance partner, Giovanni Pernice while holidaying together in Paris.

In 2004, newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky was partnered with professional dancer Brendan Cole, and both were in relationships when the season began.

Reports then emerged that Kaplinsky and Cole were having an affair during filming.

Though they never denied their romance, Cole did claim that no lines were crossed because his relationship ended before they began seeing each other.

Then there’s Rachel Riley, who in 2013 divorced her husband of 15 months, Jamie Gilbert, before pursuing a relationship with her Strictly Come Dancing partner, Pasha Kovalev.

Five years later, they’re still together.

There appears to be something about the amount of time contestants spend with their dance partners, how intimate the show requires them to be, and how little they’re able to see the people they’re close to during filming that seems to, time and time again, test relationships beyond their limits.

The same phenomenon has been recognised in Australia.

Tom Williams was partnered with Kym Johnson on Dancing with the Stars in 2005.

During filming, Johnson split with her boyfriend, and later dated Williams for a short time after filming wrapped up.

Though no break ups were involved, TV host and model Rachel Finch met her husband, Ukranian ballroom dancer Michael Miziner on the set of Dancing with the Stars. They now share two children together.

After outlining what had happened to her, Humphries continued on Twitter, “Believe in yourself and your instincts. It’s more than lying. It’s controlling. Tell some very close friends who, if they’re anything like my wonderful network, will swoop in and take care of the logistics and of you.

“It’s important also to recognise that in these situations those who hold power over you are insecure and fragile, and their need for control comes from a place of vulnerability.”

Humphries wasn’t just cheated on by her boyfriend of five years – but was gaslighted when she attempted to confront him about it.

Though the story is a sad one, it’s also an important example of what sort of behaviour is never acceptable in a relationship.

And though there might be evidence of a ‘Strictly curse’, in the end everyone has a choice to make.

Her partner, Seann Walsh, made a decision. And it was an awfully cruel one.