They've been dubbed the Harry and Meghan of Strictly Come Dancing – and, in an exclusive photoshoot and interview with HELLO!, ex-England lioness Alex Scott and her pro-dancer partner Neil Jones say they are happy to embrace their uncanny likeness to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
"We've had that a lot," Alex says. "From the moment we were paired it’s like, look at those two, Harry and Meghan." Neil jokes they could even get jobs as royal lookalikes. "If things don’t work out for you and I don’t work out as a dancer, you never know," he tells Alex with a laugh. The chemistry between the retired England and Arsenal footballer and Neil is obvious and their friendship has led to speculation that their on-screen chemistry has spilled over into real life.
"There’s nothing on our minds but the show – we don’t have time to think about anything else," says Neil, who split from his wife, fellow Strictly pro Katya, in August. "I’m single but I haven’t even thought about dating. Coming out of a long-term relationship I’m just focusing on Strictly." Adds Alex: "I’m single but it’s not like I need to find someone. I like things to happen organically and if someone comes into my life and we get on, then great. It’s not like I need to go searching for it."
Neil, 37, is still close to 30-year-old Katya and the pair, who are Latin American world champions, run a dance school together in Hampshire. Fans have expressed concern for Katya, who is partnered with BBC sports presenter Mike Bushell and recently burst into tears during the show, but Neil says: "In their rehearsals they kept going wrong and Mike kept missing steps so when they danced that quickstep and he nailed it from beginning to end, that was her letting go and going: ‘Wow, you did it.’ We all felt it.
"Katya and I are still really good friends. We’ve been dancing together for 11 years. She’s supportive, I’m supportive to her. We’re in a really good place."
The former couple were together for 11 years and married for six before announcing their separation in August. They posted a joint statement to both of their Instagram accounts which said, in part: "We will always love each other, just in a different way as friends. This will never change what a great team we make and we are really proud of everything we have achieved together."
Earlier this year, prior to his split from Katya, Neil opened up about his desire to have a celebrity partner in this series. "I am happy with whatever happens but of course I would love to have a celebrity partner," he told HELLO!. "It is nice as each year the support gets stronger and stronger. There is that one day when the pros go into the room and meet all the celebrities and I've felt that a bit. The celebrities have sometimes said: 'So, who do you hope to dance with?' I say: 'I don't get anyone,' and they are like: 'Oh, okay,' while I think I wish I did."
For more exclusive photos and interviews with Neil and Alex, pick up a copy of this week's HELLO! out on Monday 21 October.