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Exclusive: Strictly's Katya Jones makes rare comments about ex Neil Jones and lockdown dating

The Strictly Come Dancing stars split in 2019

Sharnaz Shahid

Strictly Come Dancing stars Neil and Katya Jones shocked fans when they ended their marriage and 11-year romance in August 2019. However, despite parting ways, the former couple are on the best of terms - and have each other's interests at heart.

During an exclusive and personal chat with HELLO!, Russian-born Katya opened up about their friendship and how they continue to co-parent their pet dog Crumble.

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"We're OK thanks, everybody knows that we are on such good terms," she explained. "It's lovely. We're really the best of friends - if something happens or we want to share exciting news, we always call each other and check on each other."

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On splitting their responsibilities, Katya added: "He's actually rescued another dog called Chorizo. Crumble is a lot older. She kind of thinks she is the queen of the jungle but Chorizo is so lovely so now, Crumble isn't that spoilt or a single child.

"She actually eats her food now straight away. Before she'd be like, 'yeah I'll nibble a bit.' But because she knows if she doesn't, Chorizo he will literally empty her bowl and his bowl."

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Neil and Katya split in 2019

Despite lockdown restrictions, the couple make sure they are on hand to help when needed. "It's been really nice with Neil," the professional dancer divulged. "Whenever we feel like, we do share [Crumble].

"When I was busy with Strictly, he looked after her more. Then afterwards, straightaway I'm like, 'Come on bring her over to me or I'll pick her up.' So yeah, it's really easy and it's not a problem at all. Whenever he needs time off or to work, I'll look after her but I haven't looked after them both yet. I wonder what that's going to be like."

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Since their split, Katya has been open with her Instagram followers - sharing insights into life as a singleton - as well as sharing her passion for upcycling clothes and furniture!

Asked how dating in lockdown has been for her, Katya replied: "I've not really gone into it. I just really wondered what other people did as well. It's not something I'm sort of actively or proactively trying to do or to look for a person, absolutely not.

"This year has been more about recognising myself - I think for many people, it has been about revaluating things and analysing their lives. You must come to this place of content first and happiness before I think about before going into a relationship."

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The former couple share one dog together

On one of the benefits of being single during lockdown, Katya said: "Lockdown has been really, really helpful for me to get on my feet, settle and understand what makes me happy.

"With Neil, we're both on such good ground now so we both feel like - whatever happens with each other's romantic life, it's not an issue at all."

She continued: "I'm not been actively doing anything [dating] but it must be hard because where would you even meet anybody? Apart from on your walk… when I walk my dog."

Katya, 31, then revealed she would love to have a partner who already has a dog. "I always say that if someone's got a dog that already tells you a lot about them," she said.

"If you've got this responsibility on your hand like a dog - it shows some quality in the person without even saying anything. But I'm sure time will come, I'm sort of open, I'm ready, I'm not hiding back."

Meanwhile, last week, it was revealed that both Katya and her ex Neil will come together for this year's series of Strictly Come Dancing.

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Katya has a passion for upcycling clothes and furniture

Speaking about returning, she remarked: "It's such good news. I'm excited. You kind of expect it but then when announcement goes out, you just get the buzz all over again - every single time. We're just looking forward to another exciting year to be honest."

Although she's not sure whether filming will be under the same restrictions as last year, Katya is excited to bring back some of the glitz and glamour into our lives on Saturday nights.

"We do feel the responsibility because we know how many people are tuning in," she revealed. "It's for that escapism - if Strictly is on at least there's this consistency every single Saturday. People can just sit down with their family and cheer on their favourite celebrities and dancers. So yeah, we definitely feel the responsibility there."

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