Strictly star Karim Zeroual is gearing up to compete in the seventeenth series of the show, which starts on Saturday 21 September. But as well as that excitement, he's also still adjusting to the loss of his best friend Louella Fletcher Michie, who died at Bestival in 2017, shortly before her 25th birthday. The pair had been close for several years before her shock death at the music festival following a drug overdose.
Karim and Louella were best friends until her death in 2017
After Louella died, Karim posted a series of moving tributes to his friend on Instagram. In one post, he wrote: "Words can't describe how I feel today! You were so special to me. The years we had together and the times we had have always been jokes because you were never without a smile. The only girl in the world I can call my best friend and my sister! You always called me "Little Man" and I will always be your Little Man. I love you forever and always! R.I.P Beautiful Lou. Gone too soon."
The photos he shared included Louella pushing him in a shopping trolley, the pair sitting together in a café, and one where the friends pouted at the camera while holding a can of drink. In another post, he shared pictures of Louella with her arm around Karim, kissing him on the cheek, another taken from the back showing Louella wearing a shirt that said "Lou Lou," and a blurry shot of the two friends hugging.
Karim started as an actor before becoming a TV presenter
He hashtagged his posts "#loveforluella," and other friends and family members have also used the hashtag to keep Louella's memory alive, including on her birthday on Thursday. Louella's boyfriend Ceon Broughton, a rap musician, was convicted of her manslaughter back in March. It's perhaps not surprising that Karim, 25, is turning to Strictly in the aftermath of loss, as he's always had a talent for performing.
The TV presenter attended Sylvia Young’s Theatre School and started out as an actor, appearing in West End productions of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Lion King before starring as Sadiq in children's drama The Sparticle Mystery between 2011 and 2015.
Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.