Janette Manrara took Aljaz’s Strictly partner to the side over sensual routine

Janette Manrara took Aljaz’s Strictly partner to the side over sensual routine

Gemma Atkinson recalls advice from Janette about Rumba

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The married dancers both appeared as professionals on Strictly Come Dancing for a few seasons but this year, Janette, 37, is hosting the BBC spin-off show It Takes Two. Gemma Atkinson, who was paired with Aljaž in the 2017 series, explained on Channel 4 show Steph’s Packed Lunch how his wife took her to one side following the actress’ concerns over dancing the Rumba with the choreographer.

Gemma, who is now engaged to Strictly Come Dancing’s Gorka Márquez, spoke out on the conversation she’d had with Janette while on the show.

She told Channel 4 viewers tuning into Steph’s Packed Lunch: “I know how daunting it is [to be on the show].

“When I danced with Aljaž, I met Janette and I knew he was a married man and the Rumba especially was difficult because you have to be so sensual.

“And Janette took me aside and she’s like: ‘Look, you’re dancing, it’s an acting job – just please go for it, don’t hold back because of me’.

“So I never want Gorka’s partners to feel they have to hold back because of me, and in the same respect that if I did an acting job and I had to kiss someone-“

Gorka, who was sat beside her, cut in to comment: “Maybe,” joking about his reluctance to accept the situation.

Many of the dances performed on the hit competition involve some level of intimacy between the partners, and perhaps for this reason the show has become synonymous with the “Strictly Curse”.

The term refers to romantic relationships developing between celebrity contestants and professional dancers, often to the detriment of respective partners.

Over the 17 years of the BBC show, speculation has been rife each year as to which couples are falling victim to the “curse”.

While some have been unconfirmed rumours, others ended up being true.

One of the most notorious examples came from the 2018 series, in which comedian Seann Walsh was photographed kissing his dance partner Katya Jones.

At the time, the 32-year-old was married to fellow dancer Neil Jones, and Seann was with actress Rebecca Humphries.

In the same year, TV presenter and Strictly winner Stacey Dooley entered a relationship with her dance partner Kevin Clifton.

She had been in a relationship while on the show but insisted she hadn’t started seeing Kevin until after the series.

This year, there have already been rumours about a spark between Tilly Ramsay and Nikita Kuzmin.

Speculation has been circulating despite Nikita being in a long-term relationship.

Tilly, 19, has recently denied the rumours and stated she is purely on the show to dance.

She commented: “Yes I am single but I’m here to focus on dancing.”

Speaking to New! magazine, she continued: “I’d have been crazy to say no to Strictly Come Dancing.

“It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and most importantly I really want to learn to dance.”

Strictly Come Dancing continues on Saturday at 6.45pm, while Steph’s Packed Lunch airs weekdays at 12.30pm on Channel 4.

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