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How Strictly strengthened marriages: Fleur East's 'sexy' dances, Janette Manrara's long distance & more

From Darren Bennett and Lilia Kopylova shared interests to Frankie Bridge's pregnancy

Strictly Come Dancing stars Janette Manrara, Fleur East and Frankie Bridge with their husbands and wives
Nichola Murphy
Nichola MurphyDeputy Lifestyle Editor
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We've all heard of the dreaded Strictly Come Dancing curse, which sees couples split from their partners and form relationships with fellow celebrities or professional dancers. 

But it's not often stars speak out about the positive impact the BBC competition has had on relationships. Not only is the show responsible for starting Pasha Kovalev and Rachel Riley and Gemma Atkinson and Gorka Marquez's love stories, but the likes of Fleur East and Ola Jordan have revealed their existing marriages and relationships have become stronger thanks to Strictly.

Take a look at those who not only survived the curse or created new romances after the show, but those who relished returning to their partners following long hours rehearsing away from home.

Fleur East

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Fleur East revealed the show's "sexy" dances were a "blessing" for her marriage with Marcel Badiane-Robin.

The pair tied the knot in Morocco in June 2019 with Fleur opting for a stunning J'Aton Couture wedding dress with a strapless neckline, embellished bodice and textured mermaid skirt. However, The X Factor star joked that she felt like she had renewed her vows to Marcel following her passionate Argentine Tango routine with Vito Coppola.

Fleur East and Vito Coppola dance Cha Cha Cha on Strictly© Guy Levy
Fleur was partnered with Vito Coppola on Strictly

"The show’s been a blessing for my marriage, it’s been great," she began during an appearance on The Graham Norton Show. "We’ve been together for 12 years and how often in your marriage do you dress up and look different every week, and get to do all these sexy dances in front of your husband?

"After the Argentine tango, it was like we got married again! It was wonderful."

Janette Manrara 

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Fans were used to seeing loved-up former pros Janette Manrara and Aljaz Skorjanec on the Strictly dance floor, but they may not have stayed together had it not been for the competition. 

The dancers met on Burn the Floor, but after growing close, they feared they would be forced to do a long-distance relationship when Aljaz returned to Slovenia and Janette flew back to America. 

janette manrara surprise reunion strictly kiss© Getty
The couple were worried about facing a long-distance relationship

"The thought of doing the whole long-distance thing made it hard for us. We were very scared about what was going to happen to our relationship," she said on the Sliding Doors podcast.

Following their audition, she said: "They called me first and asked me to join the show, I didn’t scream but my face said it all. Within five minutes they called him straight after.

"It was a dream come true. Getting Strictly Come Dancing was the most incredible thing, not just for my career but for my personal life and marriage with Aljaz because if it wasn’t for Strictly, I don’t know if we could have worked through the long-distance thing."

Ola Jordan

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Former Strictly stars Ola and James Jordan joined the competition in 2006, with James leaving in 2013 followed by Ola two years later. The couple recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary after tying the knot in 2013, and Ola has admitted that their time dancing together helped strengthen their bond.

"Because we danced together and spent so much time together, we grew closer and fell in love, and then when we didn't spend time together, we missed each other," she previously told HELLO!.

ola james jordan strictly
Ola and James spent time together on the dancing competition

"We just wanted to spend more and more time together and I think that's what made us be together. We've always liked each other's company."

Frankie Bridge

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Frankie Bridge shut down rumours of the Strictly curse when she appeared on the show in 2014, shortly after she married her husband Wayne.

The new mum had welcomed son Parker nine months before her big day, which took place at Woburn Abbey, and she revealed that she had already fallen pregnant with her second child Carter by the end of her Strictly stint.

Saturdays Singer Frankie Bridge At The Strictly Come Dancing Launch At Elstree Studios © John Nguyen/ANL/Shutterstock
Frankie took part in Strictly in 2014

"It’s a massive commitment. Again, that was actually about three months, my first son turned one while I was on the show, and then I was pregnant at the end of the show – it wasn’t Kevin’s baby, it was Wayne’s, which is like, normally the opposite way round on there, so I did well," she joked to Nick Grimshaw and Angela Hartnett on the ‘Dish’ podcast.

Darren Bennett

Darren Bennett in a suit and Lilia Kopylova in a red lace dress© David Fisher/Shutterstock
Darren Bennett and Lilia Kopylova got married before joining Strictly

Former Strictly pros Darren Bennett and Lilia Kopylova got married in 1999, long before joining the show.

"We did our first competition just six weeks after our tryout and got married a couple of years later," he told The Guardian, before adding that having a common interest in dancing has been an asset to their marriage.

"People often ask what it's like being married to your dance partner. Well, you get home at night and, because you've both experienced the same things all day, you've got nothing to talk about," he said.

"That's one of the great things about Strictly Come Dancing, because Lilia will go off for the day and see to her celebrity while I see to mine, and then we sit down in the evening and can actually ask, 'What have you done today, dear?'"

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