Karim Zeroual has been impressing judges and viewers alike with his hot-footed moves on Strictly Come Dancing and on Saturday night found himself joint top of the leaderboard with partner Amy Dowden. The CBBC presenter is currently one of the favourites to lift the Glitterball trophy, and although plenty is known about his impressive career – from his appearances on CBBC, starring roles in West End productions such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Lion King plus small screen credits that include the likes of kids' drama The Sparticle Mystery – less is known about the 26-year-old's family life. Ahead of tonight's Strictly, we thought we'd investigate…
Who are Karim's parents?
Karim, who is of Moroccan and British descent, is very close to his mum, Carol. Speaking ahead of his performance on Saturday night, he said: "I was brought up in a one-bed flat and it was me, my mum and my sister. Two very important and strong role models in my life, those are the two people that pushed me to pursue this career and never doubted me. It was at home in my front room where I discovered my love to perform." His mum added: "Karim and his sister were always performing together, they just loved it. He was really driven, he didn't care about going on holidays or partying. His dream was just to perform."
Last month, after Karim's Strictly partner Amy, appeared on It Takes Two without him due to a cold, presenter Zoe Ball revealed that Karim's mum had made him a special meal to help nurse him back to health. Amy, 28, explained: "He [Karim] has got the lurgy. So he's resting up, because obviously we need him fighting fit and ready for Saturday night. He's so disappointed not to be here." Zoe added: "Let's talk about his mum. She's been concerned, Mama Zeroual, she's worried about her baby bear not being too well. So she's been cooking. She made his favourite… She's made him meatballs! Can you make sure he gets those? You may find there's a couple missing, but they smell so good." Amy then thanked Karim's mum, exclaiming: "Thank you Carol!" A sweet picture of Carol could then be seen on screen, proudly displaying her meatball ingredients to the camera while in the kitchen.
Karim has previously said that his mum is a huge Strictly fan and that in previous years they have watched the show together. The CBBC presenter explained: "I watched it with my mum. Sometimes I’d be out with my friendson Saturday nights and I’d come home and my mum had her favourite dances recorded. She’d get me to watch them with her." Karim also revealed that his mum finds it hard to keep secrets. He hilariously explained: " [When I found out about Strictly] I only really told my mum, but then within one hour my mum told me she’d told her friend Debbie already. Mum! I told you not to tell anyone!"
Karim has also been known to partake in a night out on the town with mum Carol – proving just how close they really are. In one hilarious snap shared to Karim's Instagram, the BBC presenter can be seen enjoying a night out with his mum. In another, the pair appear to be sporting matching braided hair together while on holiday. Karim even added the caption: "Braid gang! My number one. She's crazy but I love her. Mumzie!"
Does Karim have any siblings?
Karim and his sister Lianne
Karim has an older sister who used to perform with him for their mum when they were younger. Speaking on a Strictly VT ahead of his Couples' Choice dance on Saturday, she said: "We used to put on a lot of shows for mum and I would do makeup and outfits. He wasn't keen when I used to put him in dresses. I always knew he was going to be a star he just needed people to believe in him.
Karim has treated his followers to sweet pictures of his family and even revealed that one of his nephews, of which he has three, is called Tyger, adding to one snap the caption: "Day out with Tyger!" It looks like Karim also has a little niece. In a photo shared on Christmas Day, captioned: "It's all for the kids. Big love," two of the BBC presenter's nephews can be seen next to a little girl decked out in pink Mini Mouse pyjamas, although Karim didn't share her name.
How's that for a big family!
Is Karim's girlfriend, Poppy Hannah Birtwistle, close to his family?
It was recently revealed that Karim has been in a relationship with Manchester University student Poppy Hannah Birtwistle for three years and the pair were even pictured together on a night out following Karim and partner Amy's impressive high-scoring Tango. The pair feature often on each other's social media pages and Karim has been popping up on Poppy's Instagram for well over a year – suggesting that she is no doubt close to his family if they've been dating all that time.
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