'Some people can't handle all that physical closeness' – Flavia Cacace reveals why anyone can fall to the curse of Strictly

Flavia Cacace

Former Strictly dancer Flavia Cacace has lifted the lid on the so-called 'Strictly Curse', which has seen celebrities leaving their long-term partners for professional dancers on the show.

Former Strictly Come Dancing professional Flavia Cacace has spoken about the 'Strictly Curse', saying “it sends the celebrities mad”.

The Italian-born dancer, who won Strictly in 2012 with gymnast Louis Smith, said that some people “can’t handle all that physical closeness”.

“They fall in love with this dream, this fantasy. Our job is to make them feel the centre of attention. It’s very addictive and it goes to some people’s heads,” she told The Sunday Telegraph.

Over the years, the 'Strictly Curse' has seen marriages and relationships ruined when celebrities fall for their professional dance partners.

Last year Georgia May Foote ended her relationship with boyfriend Sean Ward and started dating dance partner Giovanni Pernice soon after.

In the first series, the show caused uproar after affair rumours between Brendan Cole and newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky hit the headlines.

BBC presenter Natasha, 43, soon split from long-term partner Mike Barnard while Brendan, 39, reportedly dumped his fiancée and fellow dancer Camilla Dallerup, but the pair denied any wrongdoing.

In 2009 former boxer Joe Calzaghe split with his girlfriend of five years Jo-Emma Larvin just a week into the show.

The 43-year-old sportsman began a relationship with Russian dancer Kristina Rihanoff, 38, soon afterwards.

Flavia, 36, spoke openly about falling prey to the curse herself in 2007 when she became involved with her celebrity partner, former EastEnders star Matt Di Angelo. The couple went on to date for three years.

She had previously been romantically involved with Strictly professional Vincent Simone, who was her partner on and off the dance floor.

She told the paper: “Yes, it was a disaster. It all happened in the most atrocious way. My relationship with Matt was really hyped up, which was very painful for Vincent.

“But, you have to understand, everything in my life had been about dance. I’d lived in a bubble.

“I was 27 when I started on Strictly and that was nine years ago. I had never been to London on my own. I had never been on an aeroplane. I had danced with Vincent since I was 14.”

In 2013, she married actor Jimi Mistry, who she partnered on Strictly Come Dancing in 2010.

She and Vincent announced they were leaving Strictly in 2013 and are currently touring together with their stage show, The Last Tango.

“They are not just dance shows. They have acting in them and they tell a story,” she explained.

The pair have announced this will be their last tour but Flavia says despite all they have been through, they remain the best of friends.

She said: “It wasn’t easy. There was a point at which he probably wanted to tell me to sling my hook. I certainly wanted to tell him to get out of my life for a while.

“It is so hard for people to understand this. I know it was upsetting for Vincent, and humiliating. He is very competitive.

“He would hate me to tell you this but he was so angry I’d won the Glitterball and he hadn’t.

“Yet we got over me going off with Matt, somehow. The dancing takes over for both of us and we are the best of friends.”

Flavia said she has no plans to watch the new series of Strictly, which starts next Friday.

She said: “It’s changed. I am not sure people are nice to each other any more. I know it’s a competition but I think the relationships between the professional dancers are not as… harmonious as they used to be.”