Strictly Come Dancing star John Whaite has shared his thoughts on the show’s curse, after opening up about falling in love with his dance partner Johannes Radebe.
Winner of The Great British Bake Off winner and 2021 Strictly runner-up Whaite has found a silver lining after his romantic entanglement with Radebe, spelled trouble for his 15-year relationship with partner Paul Atkins.
In an interview with The Times, Whaite admitted that after being “physically pressed against another man for 10 hours a day” while rehearsing with Radebe, he started “falling in love”. The pair made history as the first all-male couple in Strictly history.
“I can’t speak for him – because I’m not allowed to, legally – but it felt like there was love there,” Whaite said. It’s a matter he delves further into in his new autobiography, Dancing on Eggshells.
But if there is one good thing to come out of the situation, it’s more LGBTQ+ representation, albeit in the most unexpected way.
The baker appeared on ITV’s Lorraine on Thursday (24 August) to explain to presenter Christine Lampard exactly how.
Johannes Radebe and John Whaite (R) danced their way into viewers’ hearts. (BBC)
“What I have to say is how blooming great it is that the gays are getting embroiled in the Strictly scandal, because before, we were just on the side lines. Now, the gays are involved in the Strictly curse. So, for me, this is a sign of progress,” he laughed.
Whaite was referring to the long-running supposed curse associated with the BBC reality competition where each year one couple risks their pre-existing relationship by getting caught up in an affair with their dance partner.
John Whaite (L) was pressed up against Johannes Radebe for 10 hours a day. (Getty)
Previous contestants who have got hit by the curse include pop star Louise Redknapp, comedian Seann Walsh and boxer Joe Calzaghe.
Whaite says he is opening up about his own Strictly curse experience now – with Radebe and Atkin’s consent – to “illustrate [that] life is difficult”.
He explained: “We are fragile human beings and our hearts sometimes can be torn in two, and sometimes you have to take stock and just think to yourself, ‘Who am I, what [are] my values, and how do I get back to that?’
“The point of the whole book is a story of love. It’s about showing people, anyone at home, it’s OK to be a vulnerable human being, to make a mess and to start again. You can always start again.”
John Whaite fell foul of the Strictly curse. (Getty)
As he told The Times, he and Radebe now keep their contact to a minimum, out of respect for his relationship with Atkins.
“I love him to bits and I worship the ground he walks on,” Whaite said. “But I have to be mindful that there’s more than my own desires to consider here and if it would be tricky for Paul for me to be in contact with Johannes, then it’s a sacrifice I have to make.”
He and Atkins had “spent some time apart” after he opened up about his feelings towards the South African dancer, Whaite admitted.
Nonetheless, Whaite and Radebe helped pave the way for future LGBTQ+ representation on Strictly. Comedian Jayde Adams and presenter Richie Anderson have both since joined the line-up in same-sex pairings.
Meanwhile, one of this year’s contestants, gay actor Layton Williams, has confirmed that he’s in the market for a male tango partner.
Strictly Come Dancing is due to return to BBC1 on Saturday, 23 September.