Eagle-eyed Strictly fans were quick to point out a “toe-curling” call back to a high-profile scandal that rocked a past series during a segment between Katya Jones and her celebrity partner Nigel Harman.
The so-called “Strictly curse” is based on the idea that participating on Strictly – whether as a celebrity or a professional dancer – threatens the status of the relationship a contestant is in when they sign up.
Professional dancer Jones is paired with the Olivier award-winning Casualty actor on this year’s series of the BBC competition, and they have impressed viewers with their weekly routines despite middling scores from the judging panel.
Those tuning into the show’s companion series, It Takes Two, on Monday (30 October), detected an uncomfortable moment when the pair teased the routine they performed on Saturday night’s episode (4 November).
When host Fleur East asked about their next dance – a Tango to Miley Cyrus and Mark Ronson’s “Nothing Breaks Like as Heart” – Harman said it was about “power, drive and drama”, with Harman stating: “We’ve got a really good story.” He then said to Jones: “I’ll let you tell the story.’
However, Jones laughed nervously, indicating to Harman that she didn’t want to be the one to talk about the story, leaving Harman to continue: “We are a couple who are in love with each other, in a long-term relationship, but one of them has strayed from home and so they’re arguing and fighting about it, and nothing breaks like a heart, so there’s real drama in the routine.”
Jones interjected: “They’ve messed up big time – they really love each other, but the damage is done,” with Harman adding: “It’s about [whether they] can they recover when somebody has had an affair.”
Viewers who detected the momentary awkwardness highlighted that this was most likely due to Jones’s past involvement in a Strictly scandal in 2018.
Jones was caught kissing her celebrity partner, the comedian Seann Walsh, on a night out in London when she was dating Neil Jones, and when Walsh was dating actor Rebecca Humphries.
At the time, both Walsh and Jones issued an apology, and maintained that it was a “drunken” mistake.
One viewer said they ‘cringed” watching the exchange on It Takes two, with another adding that their “toes curled”.
An additional fan stated: “The story for Nigel and Katya’s tango isn’t too on the nose at all.”
In August 2023, Great British Bake Off star John Whaite revealed that he almost fell victim to the so-called Strictly “curse” after “falling in love” with professional dancer Johannes Radebe despite being in a long-term relationship.
After Strictly ended, Whaite said that he temporarily “spent some time apart” from his partner of 15 years, who moved home with his parents while Whaite himself “sat on the patio, drinking bottle after bottle of sauvignon blanc”.
However, the couple are back together, and Whaite says he now intentionally keeps his distance from Radebes as “I have to be mindful that there’s more than my own desires to consider here”.
Strictly continues Saturday 11 November at 6.05pm on BBC One.