It's only been a matter of weeks since the vivacious singer Fleur East was paired with Italian dance pro Vito Coppola in Strictly Come Dancing, but already it seems like they’ve been friends for years.
"Meeting Vito for the first time, I experienced the strangest feeling," 34-year-old Fleur tells HELLO!. "When it was revealed that we’d be dancing together, I screamed and ran to hug him. As we started talking it was as if I knew him already."
Hits Radio presenter Fleur, who first shot to fame on The X Factor in 2005 and won a legion of fans after competing in I'm a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! in 2018, continues: "Our personalities and humour are so similar.
"We’ve both had to work hard in our careers, nothing has come easy, and that’s why we’re focused, ambitious and take nothing for granted."
WATCH: Fleur and Vito's Strictly test
Vito has become close buddies with Fleur’s husband, fashion designer Marcel Badiane-Robin, and the trio have had lunch together several times.
Fleur and Marcel – who tied the knot in Morocco in 2019 – have spoken about becoming parents one day, but it is Fleur's mum Irene who reminds them.
"Every few days she says: 'I'm ready to hold my grandchildren, please,'" smiles Fleur. "I'm like: 'Okay, Mamma, I'm dancing right now, so maybe afterwards.' We'll see."
Until then, Fleur is ready to rumba, and before each live show, she carries out a special good-luck ritual. "I touch a gold ring on my finger," she says.
Fleur and Vito have become fast friends
"My sister has one exactly the same and they're both made from a ring that belonged to my dad. Strictly was Dad's favourite show. Even when I was on The X Factor, which was on at the same time, he'd sneak out to get the Strictly results.
"I've always loved the show, too, but Dad is my greatest motivation for doing it. Waves of grief come and go since he died, and there was a moment where I thought I was dealing with it, but as soon as Strictly came along, I'd get really choked up and emotional just thinking about him.
"But I believe Dad's there with me," she adds. "Just before I performed in the first live show I touched my ring and said: 'Okay, Dad, let's go.’ I calmed down straight away and just went for it."
Photos: David Venn
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