IN the week when Kevin Clifton’s romance with Stacey Dooley was finally revealed, his other former Strictly dance partner Louise Redknapp has cut all ties with him.
Speaking exclusively to The Sun, she says the pair no longer speak and have unfollowed each other on social media, despite once being so close.
Their relationship was believed to have been a factor behind her 2017 split from her husband of 19 years, ex-footballer Jamie.
Backstage at the Savoy Theatre in central London, where she is starring in 9 To 5 The Musical, Louise says: “I haven’t spoken to him for a long time. Most probably since the show started. Not since last year.”
It’s surprising, given that the pair remained tight after finishing runners-up in the 2016 Strictly final.
They competed together on the subsequent Strictly Live Tour and worked on dances for Louise’s 2017 New Year’s Eve show at London club G-A-Y.
They were also pictured socialising with pals after watching Cinderella The Ballet in London days earlier.
During that time, Kevin’s marriage to fellow pro Karen Clifton ended and the pair reportedly sought comfort with each other while experiencing relationship woes.
In April 2017, just four months after Louise and Kevin’s Strictly run, The Sun told how her marriage was in trouble. She later moved out of the home she shared with Jamie and their sons Charley, 14, and Beau, ten, before divorcing in December.
Before Louise, Kevin, 36, had been partnered with Good Morning Britain host Susanna Reid, who later split from her partner of 16 years.
And last weekend The Sun on Sunday revealed Kevin had triggered an unprecedented break-up hat-trick after Stacey, 32, dumped her boyfriend Sam Tucknott for him.
Louise, 44, struggles to deny that the infamous Strictly curse is real, but says: “It’s really hard to pass judgment when you don’t know someone’s situation.
“I haven’t spoken to Kevin in a long, long time and I’ve never met Stacey, so I have no idea.
“Everyone has a different experience, everybody does the show for different reasons, everyone is looking for something different. There’s curses everywhere, no matter what job.”
Reflecting on recent series, she says: “They go and do their thing, they go on with it. I don’t watch it.
“I haven’t involved myself. I didn’t really carry on any major friendships or anything, apart from Rob Rinder.”
Louise may not want anything to do with the BBC series now, but the former singer with Nineties girl group Eternal certainly credits Strictly for inspiring her return to the stage, having since relaunched her music career and transformed herself into a West End star in her current musical.
On her divorce, she says: “I don’t have regrets. It would be nice if things could have been different but no regrets. If you think about regrets, you can’t move forward.
Kris backs Stacey fling
STRICTLY pro dancer Kristina Rihanoff has defended Stacey Dooley over her romance with TV partner Kevin Clifton.
She said on Good Morning Britain: “There’s always going to be someone hurt or feeling that what is happening is wrong.
“But people do meet at work, and that’s where we work. Literally everything we do around the year.
“It’s a very, very intense show, emotionally, physically, in every single way.”
Russian Kristina, 41, has herself fallen victim to the Strictly curse twice, dating boxer Joe Calzaghe, then her current boyfriend, former England rugby union star Ben Cohen, after meeting them as dance partners on the show.
The former Strictly star says she hasn’t carried on any major friendships from the dance show[/caption]
“If there was a way things could have been worked out, that would have been nice, but it wasn’t to be.
“Nobody wants to put themselves or anyone they love through any sadness or difficult times but things happen.
“Relationships break down all over the world every day. It’s sad but it’s just reality.”
After putting her own career on ice for well over a decade to be a full-time mum, her stint in Strictly gave Louise a new lease of life.
‘Nobody wants to put themselves or anyone they love through any sadness’, Louise says on love splits[/caption]
She now has a deal with Warner Records, has proved herself as an actress and has become a music scout with an ongoing mission to sign new artists.
But when I ask if her divorce is bittersweet because of the exciting new career opportunities she has pursued since, she is adamant it is not the case.
Welling up under a black Balenciaga baseball cap, she says: “You can never compare any career to your family and the love you might have felt for someone. It comes nowhere close.
“But at the same time I have a huge amount of passion for what I do and I work really hard at it.
“I think anybody that’s been through any hardship in their life, whether it be a break-up or a divorce or they have lost someone or whatever, you wouldn’t be human to not feel devastated about it.
“My family are very important to me. Yeah, of course there were days that were really tough, but you soldier on.”
Louise has channelled her heartache into her new album Heavy Love, out in October, which features comeback single Stretch — her first in 16 years.
She says: “It is a sexy song and it was so hard because there’s been so much speculation on my life. I think it would have been very easy to come back with a real personal song or a dig — but that’s just not me.
“There’s really personal songs on the album and songs that people will read into how they wish.
“But they’re not all about what people think. I’m very honest about how I felt.
“There’s a song called Breaking Back Together and I know everyone’s going to think, ‘Is it about Jamie?’
“Actually it was everything my mum said to me over about a three-month period when I was sad and struggling — ‘Not gonna lie, it’s going to hurt but you’ll break and you’ll get (yourself) back together.
“But there’s some songs on there that aren’t what people might think, if you listen deeper. It goes a lot deeper.”
For now though, Louise has no new male interests to inspire any love songs, whereas Jamie has been pictured with a new woman by his side, model Lizzie Bowden, 34, which The Sun revealed last week.
Louise says: “I get asked so often, ‘Are you dating?’ I’m like no, which is really sad.”
Then, pointing across the room to her manager and publicist, she continues: “I’m always with this lot — I never meet anyone.
“I’ve got the bulldogs around me, everyone is too scared to come anywhere near me. I’ve literally got my gay army around me.”
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Now Louise is embracing every opportunity that comes her way — and cherishing every second of it.
She adds: “I’m so happy. If someone had said to me three years ago that I’d be sitting here in the bar of the Savoy, with a record that’s done great, and starring in a show, I’d have laughed and gone, ‘Don’t be so stupid’.
“I’m slightly living the dream.”