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Strictly stars who didn’t enjoy their time on the show

It’s not all glitter and sparkles on the beloved BBC show

The Strictly stars that have hated their time on the show
Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
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While we’re used to celebrities loving every second of their time on Strictly Come Dancing, it isn’t always the case. While the show is known for it’s upbeat vibes, joyous energy and an endless amount of glitter, it’s not a secret that the training can also be very intense, and the infamous 'Strictly journey' isn’t for everyone. 

Following the latest reports that Amanda Abbington has asked for video recordings of her rehearsals while seeking legal advice, we look back on the stars who didn’t love their time on the show… 

Nina Wadia

The EastEnders star was the first contestant to leave the show back in 2021. Partnered with Neil Jones, she later admitted that she was "very down" after leaving the show, and was unhappy with how it was marked by the judges. On the Lads Dads and Couple Beers podcast, she explained: " Coming out of Strictly was a big shock because: A, I wasn’t expecting it to happen the way it happened, and it happened very quickly and it was all very surreal for me and when I came out I was very down. My mental health, I’ve got to tell, I was down." 

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She continued: "If you have a competition, have a level playing field. Give everybody a chance, or if not that, then at least mark accordingly. You can’t give someone like me a three when I’ve tried so hard and tried something so technically difficult, then at the same time give someone else who’s had a bit of a mistake a seven just because they looked good doing it. I don’t understand the marking system at all. I don’t think the marking system makes any sense. I thought, 'Okay, this is only week two, you know, you make a little mistake, you’re only human.’ The way it was marked down, it was shocking, actually shocking."

Nina Wadia on Strictly
Nina Wadia on Strictly

Danny John-Jules 

It was reported at the time that Danny wasn’t getting along with his pro dancer, Amy Dowden, and while the pair didn’t comment on the rumours, it appeared that there was some drama when the Death in Paradise star didn’t join her on It Takes Two following their exit from the competition. 

Every Strictly Come Dancing winner so far

Rose and Giovanni with the Glitterball in 2021
Rose and Giovanni lifted the Glitterball in 2021
  • 2004: Natisha Kaplinsky (partner Brendan Cole)
  • 2004: Jill Halfpenny (partner Darren Bennett) 
  • 2005: Darren Gough (partner Lilia Kopylova) 
  • 2006: Mark Ramprakash (partner Karen Hardy) 
  • 2007: Alesha Dixon (partner Matthew Cutler) 
  • 2008: Tom Chambers (partner Camilla Dallerup) 
  • 2009: Chris Hollins (partner Ola Jordan) 
  • 2010: Kara Tointon (partner Artem Chigvintsev) 
  • 2011: Harry Judd (partner Aliona Vilani)
  • 2012: Louis Smith (partner Flavia Cacace)
  • 2013: Abbey Clancy (partner Aljaž Škorjanec) 
  • 2014: Caroline Flack (partner Pasha Kovalev) 
  • 2015: Jay McGuiness (partner Aliona Vilani) 
  • 2016: Ore Oduba (partner Joanne Clifton) 
  • 2017: Joe McFadden (partner Katya Jones)
  • 2018: Stacey Dooley (partner Kevin Clifton)
  • 2019: Kelvin Fletcher (partner Oti Mabuse)
  • 2020: Bill Bailey (partner Oti Mabuse) 
  • 2021: Rose Ayling-Ellis (partner Giovanni Pernice) 
  • 2022: Hamza Yassin (partner Jowita Przystał)

Speaking about his experience at EM-Con Events, he explained: "Four hours a day we had... the sob story crew... 15 crews running around getting sob stories. They were in our rehearsal room three or four hours a day. I hated them, I’m not there to do sob stories, I was there to rehearse and you’re taking up our rehearsal time… how many minutes per show did you see me talking my sob story? Ten seconds. For ten seconds of footage, those people are in our rehearsal room for four hours."

Danny John-Jules took part in Strictly in 2018© Karwai Tang
Danny John-Jules took part in Strictly in 2018

He added: "There was no fight [with Amy]. There was one difference of opinion in six weeks. One difference of opinion. I'll tell you exactly how that difference of opinion came, it was very simple. For two weeks I didn’t have my partner because she had an injured leg… For two weeks I wasn't even dancing with my partner until the night. No one said that though did they?... The week that I made the mistake that everyone came down like a ton of bricks, the judges knew that I hadn’t danced with my partner that week."

Will Young 

Will, who was partied with Karen Hauer, quit the show early after struggling with his mental health, admitting that he "just couldn’t do it anymore". Speaking on Bryony Gordon’s Mad World podcast, he explained: "I was really ill. I was dragging myself to rehearsals. I just couldn’t do it any more. It was so bad I thought – I’m not joking – I thought about breaking my leg. I decided to take on Strictly because I bloody love dancing. And I bloody hated it [in the end], because I was so ill."

Before leaving the show, he had joked: "Karen is working me really hard. I thought we would do five minutes, have a coffee break, go shopping."

Will quit the 2016 series© Ben Pruchnie
Will quit the 2016 series

Rachel Riley 

While Rachel said she had a "great time" during the show, she revealed that she had "mild PTSD" after taking part. Chatting on the Spinning Plates podcast, she explained: "It still gets me. And it is ridiculous. It does do something to your psyche that isn’t comfortable. Even now like my body kind of like something’s just like flowing through me that isn’t comfortable. And I hate the theme tune and I have to put a brave face on with the girls and I’m like ‘Yay, daddy’s on’. 

Rachel opened up about her feelings towards the show© Ian West - PA Images
Rachel opened up about her feelings towards the show

"I mean I did get mild PTSD after it. I think the eventual way I decided I learned to deal with it is to ignore it as much as possible. I tried immersive, I tried ignoring it, I tried everything. The best way was to let it wash over me because obviously I was with Pasha so every year I’d find that I’d go through each week I’d know exactly what week it was, and I’d have like the memories of my experience on it, plus the memories of each year, and I’d like bring on everything that he was going through each week as well. So it was compounding. I just don’t like [it]. I mean I had a great time while I was on it, but when I was off it, I think only someone that’s been on that mad rollercoaster can quite get it." 


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Laura Whitmore 

Laura was partied with Giovanni Pernice, and spoke about her struggles on the show. She said: "I cried every day. And I really was broken, both mentally and physically, by the end. To the outside world I tried to suck it up and smile, and I did that to the best of my ability, but it affected me deeply. My friends and family knew that I was struggling. And they were there for me. The media, however, saw me as blonde bait in a sequinned dress." 

Laura spoke about being unhappy on the show© Dave J Hogan
Laura spoke about being unhappy on the show

Gregg Wallace

The TV chef was open about the relationship with his partner, Aliona Vilani, as the pair did not get on. He explained: "I love dancing, but if I were paired with somebody who liked me then I would have done better." Aliona appeared to return the favour, later retweeting a post asking for her to get a better partner for the following year.  

MasterChef: The Professionals judges Marcus Wareing, Monica Galetti and Gregg Wallace© BBC
The MasterChef star didn't enjoy his time on Strictly

Lynda Bellingham 

Following her death, Lynda’s husband Michael Pattemore claimed that she didn’t enjoy her 2009 turn on the show at all, and didn’t get along with her partner, Darren Bennett. In his memoir, My Lynda, he wrote: "She said her partner Darren Bennett was such a miserable git. There was no laughter, no fun. All the way through rehearsals she didn’t mind training hard, but it was solid dance. He was just hard work. If Lynda had had a partner like Anton Du Beke or someone, now they would have had some fun together." 

He also revealed that she didn’t like her body image on the show, and "always thought she looked fat". 

Lynda's husband said the late star didn't enjoy herself© Mike Marsland
Lynda's husband said the late star didn't enjoy herself

Robert Webb 

Although Robert said he has "no bad feelings towards the show," he has since called it an "absolutely weird show". The Peep Show actor left the series early after struggling with his health following heart surgery.  Chatting at the Henley Literary Festival, he said: "It is brutal. It is an absolutely weird show. It is not like it is an unpleasant environment, but they are long days and it is a long time to be nice… If we had longer to rehearse it would happen, but we get four days and one performance... At the end of that performance you might get fired." 

dianne buswell robert webb tango© Photo: Getty Images
Robert with his partner, Dianne Buswell

Fern Britton

Fern took part in 2012, and was partied with Artem Chigvintsev. Unfortunately, it sounds like the pair didn’t click at all, as she claimed that he would "kick" and "shove" her during training. She added: "He was like, ‘Shut your face. Go home before I kill you.'. I would say, ‘Oh please just kill me, it would be easier’. Or what was his other one? ‘If you go for a cup of tea now, I will blow off like an atomic bomb.’ I thought, well I won’t correct him on that one." 

Fern didn't get on with her partner© Tony Woolliscroft
Fern didn't get on with her partner

Fiona Phillips

Fiona was vocal about not liking her dance partner, Brendan Cole, saying: "Brendan was a real bugger, actually. He wasn’t very nice. He was really naughty. He’s not on the show now. Karma indeed. It works its way every time." 

Fiona opened up about Strictly© Danny E. Martindale
Fiona opened up about Strictly

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