Is It Time To Stop Obsessing Over The Strictly Curse?

At 19, Tilly Ramsay is the latest to fall foul to cheating rumours - but when we're analysing body language and slight gazes, surely we've gone too far.

Tilly and Nikita

by Georgia Aspinall |

Just three weeks into Strictly Come Dancing returning to our screens and there’s already musings about the dreaded Strictly Curse. Why? That’s right, strap in the tabloid fodder chat is back (not that many don’t want it, ‘Strictly gossip 2021’ is currently a breakout search term on Google.)

First came rumours of a romance between Tilly Ramsay and partner Nikita Kuzmin. While the pair are only 19 and 23, suggestions that the pair were dating started early despite Nikita having a girlfriend on the outside world. In fact, the rumours are so strong, Tilly addressed it in an interview with OK! Magazine stressing that she isn’t there to meet anyone. ‘I am single but I’m here to focus on dancing,’ she said.

This morning, New Magazine reported that the Strictly Curse chatter is beginning to frustrate her. ‘Tilly is loving being on the show but she wants to concentrate on her dancing,’ a source told the magazine. ‘Feeling like she's under the microscope with everyone analysing her body language with Nikita is really stressing her out. She's worried about annoying Nikita's girlfriend and though she and Nikita do get on brilliantly, she's anxious about it appearing that she's trying to make a move on someone else's boyfriend.’

Tilly’s not the only one under the microscope. AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington are also being watched closely after viewers spotted obvious chemistry between the pair. In fact, in last week’s episode, Kai could be heard saying ‘I love you so much’ to AJ at the end of their performance.

Now, ‘Is Kai from Strictly married?’ is a breakout search term on Google – as well as ‘AJ and Kai on Strictly’. In fact, the pair are both single, so this certainly wouldn’t be a curse… more like a romance of actual dreams. AJ has addressed the rumours though, telling Zoe Ball’s Radio 2 Breakfast Show that they were just playing the part (they did a Bodyguard inspired performance.)

‘Guys, I was in character at that moment on the dance floor this week,’ she laughed. ‘I was playing Rachel, he was playing Frank [from The Bodyguard]. They were in love!’

While AJ seemed much less stressed by the romance rumours than Tilly – for the obvious reason there wouldn’t be any cheating involved – the obsession with the Strictly Curse does warrant some questions. The main one being: should we actually put it to bed?

It’s one thing when a partner on Strictly is found to be cheating, but when it comes to viewers and tabloids alike dissecting the slightest look or body language just to start a Strictly Curse narrative, surely we’ve gone too far.

Because, the Strictly Curse is no joke, nor light-hearted gossip to fuel our winter boredom. In fact, earlier this year Sophie Ellis-Bextor warned that Strictly Curse paranoia forced her husband into counselling. She competed with Brendan Cole in 2013, placing fourth.

‘Richard started to struggle with my involvement from the launch show onwards,’ she wrote in a column for The Daily Mail. ‘It was so hard for him that I can remember wondering if they’d ever had a contestant walk away from the show before they’d even danced their first dance… Richard began seeing a counsellor after I’d been in the show a month or so, and it really helped. Perhaps I should have, too.’

Whether you get hit with rumours or not, fear of the Strictly Curse does get to contestants.

Prior to Strictly airing, The Sun reported that Maura Higgins – who is dating Giovanni Pernice – was also ‘dreading’ Strictly curse rumours. Plus, former contestant Jamie Laing told the Daily Star last year that he ‘hid’ them from his current girlfriend Sophie Haboo.

It appears whether you get hit with them or not, knowing how much the public loves a romance rumour and all of the Strictly Curse narrative that comes with it does actually get to contestants. For those who end up cheating, it’s unsurprisingly even worse because it follows you forever. In May this year, Seann Walsh – who was infamously caught kissing Katya Jones in public – said he still has panic attacks about the way he was villainised after being caught, and is on anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications in order to cope.

Ultimately, it all feels a bit pantomime when cheating occurs on Strictly. Rather than rush to support the partner that’s been betrayed, often times we see viewers take pride in admonishing the cheater as if it’s purely entertainment. In actual fact, the Strictly Curse has the potential to ruin lives – so whether it happens or not, the way some viewers wait for it with bated breath, pointing out every hint of chemistry, it’s growing increasingly uncomfortable.

Read More:

Seann Walsh's Comments Prove No One Can Escape The Strictly Curse Unharmed

'There's No Strictly Curse: You're Either Happy Or You're Not'

Is This The Year The Strictly Curse Will Finally Be Broken?

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