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Strictly's Karen Hauer and Eddie Kadi reveal reason for their close bond

"It feels like we've already won," says Eddie

Karen Hauer and Eddie Kadi pose for exclusive HELLO! shoot
Emily Horan
Emily HoranEntertainment Editor
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When HELLO! joins Strictly Come Dancing's Eddie Kadi and his professional partner Karen Hauer for our exclusive interview and photoshoot, they're in the middle of ordering Venezuelan food for lunch. 

"Make sure we get the fried yuca," says Karen to Eddie, before he tells us with a smile: "Karen has introduced me to Venezuelan food and some of it reminds me of my childhood in Congo. It's a real exchange of culture."

It is Eddie and Karen's similar backgrounds that have meant the British-Congolese comedian and the Venezuelan-born dancer share a bond far deeper than just student and dance teacher – one that will last long after the Strictly stardust settles. 

Karen Hauer and Eddie Kadi take our fun Strictly quiz:

Eddie Kadi and Karen Hauer's close friendship

"We're both able to understand what being on a show like Strictly Come Dancing means for our families and our cultures. For us, it feels like we've already won," explains Eddie, 40, who presents BBC Radio 1Xtra's Afrobeats Charts Show on Sundays, and has performed stand-up comedy at venues from London's O2 Arena to New York's Radio City Music Hall.

"We both came from foreign lands. I landed in London and Karen landed in New York around the same age as each other (eight), and we learnt a new language and culture."

And it's not just their upbringings that Eddie and Karen, 41, have in common. With the pair sharing identical senses of humour, fun and laughter seems to fill every room they're in – which has no doubt helped raise Karen's spirits amid reports that she and husband Jordan Wyn-Jones have decided to split, which, at the time of our photoshoot, neither of them has commented on.

"My first impression of Eddie was that he's hilarious," says Karen. "He has such good energy and he's very easy to get along with. I grew up in a house where if you didn't like banter, you'd have to leave the house! Latinos don't take anything too seriously, so when I throw banter at him and he throws it right back, it feels like I'm hanging out with my family."

Eddie Kadi and Karen Hauer pose for exclusive HELLO! shoot
"My first impression of Eddie was that he's hilarious," says Karen

Eddie Kadi's bromance with Bobby Brazier

On top of finding a friend for life in Karen, a highlight of Eddie's Strictly experience has been his 'bromance' with fellow contestant, Bobby Brazier.

The EastEnders actor may be half Eddie's age, but the pair share a special connection. 

"He's so well-rounded as a human being and he's 20!" says Eddie with admiration. "He's got a big heart and he knows how to calm things down. We have an unofficial Strictly group chat and I remember a moment where everyone was panicking, saying they can't get their steps right or their back hurts, then Bobby just goes: 'Let's all name one thing we're grateful for…'

"When I got my ten, the first person I was looking for was Bobby. We check on each other most days," continues the star.

Eddie Kadi poses for exclusive HELLO! shoot
"This is beyond my dad's wildest dreams," says Eddie Kadi

Eddie Kadi's dance background

Eddie, whose family migrated from Congo to the UK when he was eight years old, may have had the chance to refine his skills on national television, but dancing has been in his blood since he was born.

"We love music, we love dancing – it's a rich part of our culture," he says. 

"You go to a Congolese church? We're moving our hips, praising the Lord. At weddings, we're dancing. When Christmas comes, our parents would put us together and make us dance in front of a camera for our cousins. It was always part of me, but I'd just move my body. When you get to this level [of dancing], you're like: 'Oh yeah, there's a craft'."

Karen Hauer poses for exclusive HELLO! shoot
Karen scored her first ten with Eddie earlier this month on Strictly

Eddie Kadi's family

Now, Eddie is proud to be representing the Congolese community on mainstream TV. 

"This is beyond my dad's wildest dreams," he says. "He came here to find better opportunities for his family. I don't think he ever thought we'd get to a stage where not only am I representing our family name, but I'm now representing a whole nation in a way that's safe and magical to me."

For Eddie, making his family proud is more fulfilling than any trophy could be.

"Doing Strictly is a gift to them for sticking with me, for backing me. My dad, my mother, my sisters and my brother have all come to watch Strictly [in the studio]. For them to be able to celebrate these moments with me, there is nothing better than that." 

Strictly Come Dancing continues on Saturday, with the results show on Sunday on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.

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