Strictly Come Dancing's Biggest Fall-Outs And Feuds Ever

As Fern Britton and Laura Whitmore prove, not every celebrity has the best time with their professional partner on the BBC dance show.

It’s known for being one of the most upbeat and cheerful shows on telly, and for the most part it is, but it turns out that there’s often a little more going on behind the scenes of Strictly Come Dancing than viewers might realise.

While the hit ballroom show is renowned for sparking lasting friendships (and, of course, a fair few romances too), it seems not everyone has felt the love under the Strictly glitterball in the past.

In fact, celebrities and their professional partners butting heads behind the scenes actually goes on more than most fans would think,

Here’s our rundown of the biggest infamous Strictly feuds and fall-outs of all time...

Fern Britton and Artem Chigvintsev (2012)

Fern and Artem danced together in series 10, just missing out on the halfway point when they went home in week six.

In 2015, she claimed that she hadn’t enjoyed working with Artem, claiming he used to “kick” and “shove” her during rehearsals, also suggesting: “He was like, ‘Shut your face. Go home before I kill you’.

“I would say, ‘Oh please just kill me, it would be easier’. Or what was his other one? ‘If you go for a cup of tea now, I will blow off like an atomic bomb.’ I thought, well I won’t correct him on that one.”

Artem later claimed Fern’s comments were not reflective of “any situation he recognised”, insisting he treated the former This Morning host with “respect and genuine care”.

Fiona Phillips and Brendan Cole (2005)

Back in Strictly’s third series, daytime star Fiona Phillips was paired up with Brendan Cole, but it sounds as though they didn’t exactly hit it off.

In fact, more than a decade later when it was reported that Brendan had not been invited to return to Strictly, Fiona branded the move “karma” for the way she’d been treated by the professional dancer.

“Brendan was a real bugger, actually,” she said in 2020. “He wasn’t very nice. He was really naughty.

“He’s not on the show now. Karma indeed. It works its way every time.”

Lynda Bellingham and Darren Bennett (2009)

The late Loose Women star lasted four weeks in the competition back in 2009, where she was partnered with Darren Bennett.

A year after her death, Lynda’s widower Michael Pattemore gave an interview claiming she “hated” her experience on the dancing show.

“She said her partner Darren Bennett was such a miserable git. There was no laughter, no fun,” he explained.

“All the way through rehearsals she didn’t mind training hard, but it was solid dance. He was just hard work. If Lynda had had a partner like Anton Du Beke or someone, now they would have had some fun together.”

Gregg Wallace and Aliona Vilani (2014)

The Masterchef star was the first celebrity eliminated from his series, which he put down to the fact that his professional partner wasn’t exactly his biggest fan.

“I love dancing, but if I were paired with somebody who liked me then I would have done better,” he said.

Following their elimination, Aliona also retweeted a number of messages calling for her to get a better partner in future series, with select messages including “could someone please give Aliona a decent partner next year”.

As it goes, the following year would see her lifting the Glitterball trophy with help from former The Wanted singer Jay McGuiness.

Laura Whitmore and Giovanni Pernice (2016)

In 2018, Laura Whitmore published a blog on HuffPost UK in which she outlined the difficulties she faced when she took part in Strictly two years earlier.

“I cried every day,” she wrote. “And I really was broken, both mentally and physically, by the end.

“To the outside world I tried to suck it up and smile, and I did that to the best of my ability, but it affected me deeply. My friends and family knew that I was struggling. And they were there for me. The media, however, saw me as blonde bait in a sequinned dress.”

Giovanni Pernice had previously dated Georgia May Foote, Laura’s close friend, until shortly before the series started.

Danny John-Jules and Amy Dowden (2018)

Things between Danny John-Jules and Amy Dowden got off to a strong start, with the pair landing some high scores in their first few weeks of dancing together on Strictly.

Unfortunately, by the time they bowed out of the competition, the pair had been dogged by rumours of a fall-out behind the scenes, with tabloid reports claiming he’d left her in tears after a blazing row.

During an appearance on It Takes Two, the pair admitted an argument had taken place, but refuted any “bullying” claims.

When Danny left the show, he declined to appear on It Takes Two with Amy, and later accused the show of “creating stories” about him, which the BBC insisted was not the case.

Laila Rouass and Anton Du Beke (2009)

In what was genuinely a low-point for Strictly Come Dancing, Anton Du Beke made headlines during an early series of the show, when he used a racial slur to describe his partner during an off-air conversation.

Anton later issued a statement insisting he’d only used the term “p**i” towards her as backstage “banter” (his words, not ours), and unreservedly apologised for his choice of language.

Former Strictly host Sir Bruce Forsyth later took a bit of heat after the scandal, when he claimed that Anton hadn’t done anything wrong.

He said at the time: “We used to have a sense of humour about this. You go back 25, 30, 40 years and there has always been a bit of humour about the whole thing.”

The presenter was later forced to backtrack in a more official capacity, with a statement saying: “To be absolutely clear, the use of racially offensive language is never either funny or acceptable.”

Anastacia and Brendan Cole (2016)

Back in 2016, Brendan was forced to deny reports that he was bickering behind-the-scenes with his then-partner Anastacia, telling Digital Spy: “We’ve definitely had some conversations, I won’t lie about that.

“I think we’re both two very strong-minded individuals in a process, but we get along very, very well.”

Two years later, Anastacia revealed she was still in touch with “pretty much everyone” from Strictly, apart from her professional partner.

“We don’t have that kind of connection. It was just for the show,” she said.

Nancy Dell’Olio and Anton Du Beke (2011)

During a public event shortly after he and Nancy were voted out of Strictly, Anton was asked for his thoughts on her dancing abilities, joking they were “shit” and that his celebrity partner “never got that good”.

When asked whether he thought the judges had been “cruel” in their comments about Nancy, Anton responded: “I think the producers were cruel giving her to me in the first place.”

Reports around that time also claimed that Nancy had blamed Anton for her poor performance.

Lulu and Brendan Cole (2011)

That same year, another couple were apparently clashing behind the scenes, with Lulu and Brendan Cole both later revealing their working relationship wasn’t the best.

Brendan has suggested the Shout singer was “not a particularly nice person” when they worked together, and has since branded her his worst ever partner during an interview on Loose Women.

“Blooming awful,” he said. “But she felt the same about me, so it’s alright.”

Kelvin Fletcher and Oti Mabuse (2019)

They danced their way to victory and became firm friends in the process, but Kelvin and Oti were candid throughout their Strictly journey about the fact that they didn’t always see eye to eye during training.

In fact, in the weeks leading up to the final, Kelvin revealed that he and Oti had “come to blows” on more than one occasion during a particularly “hard week”.

Michelle Visage and Giovanni Pernice (2019)

Similarly, Michelle and Giovanni were both open about the fact that their fiery natures meant that they clashed during rehearsals, even if they always made up in the end.

The RuPaul’s Drag Race judge maintained that she and Giovanni were still friends despite their occasional spats, most notably after a tabloid report that she was “unhappy” with her partner, shortly before she was eliminated.

“Gio is my best friend in this competition, he is my rock and I trust him with everything,” she wrote on Twitter. “We have the most fun and laughs together and to suggest otherwise is just sad.”

Brendan Cole and Shirley Ballas (2017)

Karwai Tang/Getty

But it isn’t just the stars and their partners who have rubbed each other up the wrong way over the years.

During her first series on the show, Brendan and Shirley had an awkward moment when he contradicted a critique she’d given of one of his performances, and the Head Judge later admitted that there’d been some tension between them.

“He’s confrontational,” Shirley said. “Every other professional was extremely respectful, very well-mannered, ‘How are you Mrs Ballas? You’re doing a good job’.”

Brendan later admitted that he thinks the confrontation may have cost him his job on the show.

Craig Revel Horwood and Brendan Cole (c 2004- 2018)

(L-R) Craig Revel Horwood and Brendan Cole
(L-R) Craig Revel Horwood and Brendan Cole

Long-standing judge Craig admitted he “locked horns” with Brendan during his 13 years on the show before he was sacked in 2018.

In a new interview, Craig revealed he did offer an olive branch to Brendan after he was axed but his attempt to mend their rift didn’t go to plan.

“We did lock horns” Craig admitted on Kate Thornton’s podcast White Wine Question Time.

“I invited him around two years ago to my house. I hadn’t spoken to him for years. I thought ’wouldn’t it be nice to see Brendan, just to see if he’s working...”

“What a bitch,” Kate laughed.

Craig added: “Oh god this is going out to people isn’t it. Anyway he had an electric car. He was showing that off.

He then added: “We hated each other.”

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