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13 most shocking Strictly Come Dancing feuds and dramatic moments over the years

Strictly Come Dancing has seen its fair share of drama over the years. Find out more... 

Luba Mushtuk standing with Michelle Tsiakkas, Janette Manrara, Neil Jones, Amy Dowden, and Jake Leigh
Senior Features Writer
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Strictly Come Dancing has seen one or two dramatic moments over the years since the show began in in 2004. With 30 years of high hopes, stressful training and judges' comments, it's hardly surprising that there have been ups and downs from telly's most sparkling show. From an axed judge, to stars quitting the show early, to the so-called 'Strictly curse', the BBC ballroom competition has seen it all. Check out our roundup of some of the show's biggest surprises and feuds...

Amanda Abbington© Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock

Amanda Abbington quitting show

It was rumoured that Giovanni and Amanda weren't getting along in training, which Amanda initially shut down. In an Instagram post, she said: "Just stop it, stop it, grow up. No one gives a [expletive]. Shut up, it's [expletive], so [expletive] off. You know who I'm talking to as well. Come on, jog on, it's nonsense and you know it's nonsense. It's all good."

However, the star eventually quit the show, and is reportedly asking for footage of rehearsals with Giovanni while looking to receiving legal advice. Upon leaving the show, the Sherlock actress left Giovanni out of her list of thanks, writing: "It is with deepest regret that I had to leave Strictly. I did not come to this decision easily or lightly but for personal reasons I am unable to continue. 

"It was an absolute joy working with my fellow contestants, they are a beautiful, hardworking and talented group of people who I love and who I will miss seeing every Friday and Saturday and competing alongside." 

Ola Jordan and James Jordan during day two of The Boodles Tennis on June 28, 2023 © Ben Hoskins

James Jordan’s exit

James has previously opened up about being offered a reduced role on the show, and opted to leave instead. At the time, Strictly’s official Twitter account wrote: "It’ll be sad not having @artemchigvintse and @The_JamesJordan around. Best of luck. We’ll miss you #scd #sadtimes," to which James replied: "So why sack me?" The dancing pro was on the show from 2006 to 2013. 

TV presenter Natasha Kaplinsky and Brendan Cole, of Strictly Come Dancing, arrive at the "2004 TV Moments Awards Ceremony" at BBC Television Centre on January 22, 2005 in London. The awards celebrate the best and worst moments of the past televisual year. (Photo by MJ Kim/Getty Images)© MJ Kim

Brendan Cole and Natasha Kaplinsky

During the first series in 2004, professional Brendan Cole and his celebrity partner Natasha Kaplinsky were said to have grown close while competing for the Glitterball trophy. 

After winning the show, Brendan and his then-fiancé and fellow pro dancer Camilla Dallerup called off their engagement. Camilla described being left for Natasha as a "mini-death", however, Brendan and Natasha deny they were ever romantically involved.

Dame Arlene Phillips on ITV's Lorraine© Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock

Arlene Phillips's axe from the show

Professional dancer and choreographer Arlene Phillips was one of the original judges on the show but was famously axed and replaced with Alesha Dixon back in 2009. The former judge spoke out against the decision, claiming it had to do with her age and it even sparked outrage among viewers who complained to the show. 

Eleven years after her departure, she's decided to launch an investigation into the real reason she was dropped. "Nowadays, they could have given me the chance to resign or build a story around it. I didn’t have a contract that automatically rolled on to the next year, but I think it was handled so poorly. You then never forget those moments of turmoil," explained Arlene.

seann walsh katya jones© Photo: WENN

Sean Walsh and Katya Jones' kiss

In recent years, the kiss between Sean Walsh and Katya Jones was another moment that fuelled the 'Strictly curse' fire. The comedian and pro dancer were paired for the 2018 show and were pictured kissing after a night out, despite both being in relationships. The two then appeared on sister show It Takes Two to apologise for their actions and express their regret. 

"Obviously I'm sorry for the hurt I've caused, we were getting on well, we were having fun, had a couple of drinks and we made a huge mistake, and I regret it deeply," began Sean. Katya added: "I can't apologise enough to everyone I've hurt [...] what matters to me the most right now [is] my job and doing it as professionally as I can."

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

Laura Whitmore

In 2018, presenter Laura Whitmore published a blog on Huff Post in which she detailed how uncomfortable she felt while taking part in the show two years earlier. Laura, who was paired with Giovanni Pernice, said: "I was placed with a dance partner I was extremely uncomfortable with – and in the end I felt broken. 

"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."

danny john jules© Photo: Getty Images

Danny John Jules and Amy Dowden

It seems 2018 was a dramatic year, as Amy Dowden and actor Danny John-Jules were reportedly not getting on behind the scenes. Despite denying bullying allegations, the pair did admit an argument had taken place, while appearing on It Takes Two. The situation was fuelled further when Danny didn't appear next to Amy on It Takes Two after the pair were voted out of the competition.

Anastasia and Brendan Cole© Karwai Tang

Anastasia and Brendan Cole

In 2016, the American singer and her pro partner Brendan Cole had a few tough talks while training together for the competition. 

The singer told Digital Spy: "We've definitely had some conversations, I won't lie about that." A couple of years later, she then admitted she had kept contact with most people from that year, except for Brendan. She said: "We don't have that kind of connection. It was just for the show."

Brendan Cole leaves the show© Chris Jackson

Brendan Cole leaves the show

At the beginning of 2018, it was announced that Brendan had been axed from the show. Speaking on Lorraine, he said: "It's actually quite hard to talk about," he began. "Well the BBC haven't renewed my contract, the just made an editorial decision to not have me back on the show, so I'm a little bit in shock at the moment, and quite emotional and raw about it." 

The pro then alluded that he thought he had been dropped due his reported "confrontations" with head judge Shirley Ballas. "I'm a very strong character on this show I have my strong views, some do [like that] and some don't."

Will Young quits© Mike Marsland

Will Young quits

In 2016, Will Young famously quit the show midway through without much of an explanation. The singer cited "personal reasons" as the reason for leaving but many thought that it was after his clash with Len after his Bollywood routine, who told him to "turn up, keep up and shut up". 

After the show, Karen Hauer told Radio Times that the former dancing pair hadn't spoken. "I haven't really been in touch with Will since the show," she said. "I think everybody understands his reasons and we all understand, but it's hard when there's the other half. It's my job and I love my job and it was really hard for me to stay behind and see everybody have an amazing series and not to be a part of it."

Kevin Clifton and Stacey Dooley smiling© Instagram

Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton

After Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton won the show in 2018, soon after it was announced that she and her boyfriend at the time Sam had split. 

The journalist's ex gave an interview in which he explained he saw a text on Stacey's phone from Kevin saying "I love you". However, Stacey then explained that she had seen "utter nonsense" written about the circumstances of their relationship.

Louise Redknapp in denim shirt© Dave Benett

Louise Redknapp on Strictly changing her

Eternal singer Louise Redknapp competed on the fourteenth series of Strictly in 2016 and ended up reaching the final alongside pro partner Kevin Clifton. Soon after the show wrapped, Louise announced that she was leaving her footballer husband of nearly 20 years Jamie. After much media speculation that Strictly was the reason behind her split, Louise then admitted that the show "put the fire back in her belly" for her new lease of life, but was not the reason behind the break up.

Ben Cohen and Kristina Rhianoff© Karwai Tang

Ben Cohen and Kristina Rhianoff

Rugby star Ben Cohen appeared on the show in 2013 and was paired with professional dancer Kristina Rihanoff. Shortly after their stint on the show, Ben split from his wife of 11 years and embarked on a relationship with the pro dancer. 

The couple assured there was no overlap, but his ex-wife Abby revealed she hit "rock bottom" after being "dumped". Since then, Kristina and Ben have welcomed their own child, daughter Milena in 2016.

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