Walking through Birmingham on a cold January night, dancer Kevin Clifton smiles and skips into the lobby of a five-star hotel.
Just a minute earlier, Stacey Dooley, who had performed in the city that night on the Strictly tour, got off a coach with the rest of the cast and went through the same door into the Malmaison.
Might this have been the night the pair, who had been partners in Strictly 2018, winning the Glitterball a month earlier, began dancing to a new tune?
She had split from Sam Tucknott, her partner of five years, at Christmas, and he was single after breaking up with third wife Karen Hauer in March 2018.
Kevin was in Birmingham that night to see Stacey dance with Aljaz Skorjanec after ruling himself out of the tour so he could prepare for his own Burn The Floor shows, which start on Thursday.
A Strictly insider said: “There was no reason for Kevin to slog all the way to Birmingham to see her perform. The fact he did speaks volumes about where they were in their relationship.”
It was revealed this weekend that 32-year-old Stacey’s ex Sam only found out she was seeing Kevin, 36, in April as he moved his things out of their home.
Sam, 30, said: “I was getting my stuff to leave. Stacey was in the loo. Her phone went and it was Kevin Clifton – ‘I love you’ with a red love heart.
“I grabbed the phone and confronted her. She said she’d tell me everything.”
She later texted him insisting she and Kevin only started their relationship after they had split up in December.
Strictly insiders said it was “no surprise” Stacey and Kevin had got together. A source who worked on the BBC1 hit, said: “On the show itself they were very, very close.
“Kevin is very charismatic to say the least. It’s little wonder that he and Stacey’s friendship has moved on to a new level.”
But the discovery of Kevin’s text left Sam, a personal trainer, devastated – even though in Stacey’s eyes their relationship had ended on Boxing Day following a row after a Christmas Day lunch at his family’s home.
Stacey today hit back at the reaction to Sam’s revelations, tweeting: “Anyone with any adult life experience knows there are 2 sides to every story.”
She branded some of the comments “utter nonsense”. The “Strictly curse” blamed for breaking up 14 couples, has struck two of Kevin’s previous dance partners.
Louise Redknapp , 44, was divorced from husband Jamie in 2017 after dancing with Kevin in 2016.
Newsreader Susanna Reid, 49, paired with Kevin in 2013, also split from her long-term partner soon after the show finished. It is not suggested that Kevin was romantically involved with either of the women.
Kevin got married in 2003, at the age of 20, to amateur Latin world champ Anna Melnikova.
By 2007, he had married a second time, to Clare Craze, but they separated three years later. In 2015, he wed Karen Hauer, a Venezuelan dancer he met in dance show Burn The Floor. They split last March.
After his break-up from Clare, Kevin said: “I was never particularly happy in my previous marriage and I wasn’t myself. It was just a bit of a weird time. When I met Karen, I could get on with her on a completely different level.”
Clare later said in a now-deleted social media post: “It is so difficult to stick to my decision not to get involved. Everything in me wants to scream from the rooftops what the truth is.”
In his interview with the Mail on Sunday at the weekend, Sam revealed he was planning to propose to Stacey and blamed Kevin for the break-up.
He said: “Stacey has broken my heart, but of course I still love her and I wish her every success.”
Kevin has denied dating any previous Strictly partners, but Sam said: “My anger is with Kevin. It’s more like Strictly Come Dating – year in, year out.
“Strictly is meant to be a family show – my little niece watches it – but it’s so sleazy, and I cannot begin to wonder what goes on behind the scenes.
“I have no respect for Kevin whatsoever.
“He comes out and says it’s all ‘strictly business’. He’s a full-on p***k. I’ve tried to meet him since to get closure, but he won’t do it.
“Had it been one of the other dancers she got with, fair enough.
“But it stings that much more because of what he’s been like and how he’s renowned. He’s an absolute complete f***ing rat with no b******s or decency to hear me out.”
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