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Janette Manrara and Aljaz Skorjanec introduce baby Lyra - see her sweet face for the first time

Former Strictly Come Dancing stars introduce their baby in first exclusive shoot 

Tracy Schaverien
Tracy SchaverienFeatures Contributor
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Looking straight into the camera with the tiniest hint of a smile, little Lyra Rose Skorjanec is a complete natural as she makes her debut in her very first photoshoot. "She's a little superstar already and loves the camera," proud mum Janette Manrara says with a laugh as she and husband Aljaz pose with their baby girl.


With her shock of dark hair and bright, inquisitive eyes, seven-week-old Lyra seems totally at ease when HELLO! joins the family at their home in Cheshire for this exclusive interview and shoot. Needless to say, the former Strictly Come Dancing professional dancers are besotted. "I look into her eyes and feel completely lost in them," says Janette, as she and Aljaz snuggle up with Lyra on their bed.

Janette Manrara and Aljaz Skorjanec introduce baby Lyra:

Janette Manrara wears silk as she joins Aljaz Skorjanec and Lyra
Janette Manrara and Aljaz Skorjanec introduce baby Lyra

"That love is so deep; nothing else compares. You can see she’s learning and developing. She recognises our faces and our voices, and that connection is just incredible. She's the most amazing baby. She’s really contented and only cries if she’s hungry or needs a nappy change."

Aljaz adds: "Every single day is a pinch-yourself moment. Of course it's very demanding, but the beautiful moments make all the sleepless nights worth it, like when I see her happy and smiling and I’m looking at her with such excitement and anticipation to see what she’s going to do next."

READ:  Win family tickets to The Bear Grylls Adventure - complete HELLO!'s short surve

Janette's decision to have C-section:

Janette Manrara sits in nursery with baby Lyra
Lyra was born on 28 July at London’s Portland Hospital

Lyra was born on 28 July at London’s Portland Hospital, weighing 7lb 7oz. Janette, 39, elected to have a Caesarean section on medical advice, because of her petite frame – and with two performers for parents, their baby girl’s arrival was suitably theatrical. 

SEE: Janette Manrara's gorgeous pregnancy HELLO! shoot - all the pictures

"It was the most perfect day," Janette recalls. "We had a playlist, and Aljaz and I had a little slow dance before we went into theatre. All morning we had been humming the song Little Bitty Pretty One and that was the song we chose for her to be born to. There was a screen over my tummy, but as she came out, the doctors offered to drop it so I could watch. It was literally like a cue to a performance: the music started, the curtain dropped and out she came, onto the stage of life. It was the most beautiful, emotional moment; Aljaz and I were both crying. We were in heaven."

Janette Manrara lies on floor with Lyra
Lyra seems totally at ease when HELLO! joins the family at their home

She continues: "Our playlist was on shuffle, and as they wrapped Lyra up and brought her over for me to see, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face started playing. I just couldn’t believe it.- Seeing her for the first time was magical. You hear about it, but until you experience it, you don't understand how deep that love is, from the first moment, when you see that baby in your arms. It’s an exceptional feeling."

Doting dad Aljaz, who cut the umbilical cord, agrees. "I never thought I could love anyone or anything as much as Janette, but when you see your child for the first time, it’s something else," he says. "All that little thing needs is your love and there’s nothing else you want to give."

The couple had discovered they were expecting a girl – which came as a surprise to Janette – during a scan, but decided to keep the news to themselves.   "My whole life, I’ve had the instinct that I was going to be the mother of a boy," she says. “Even early in the pregnancy, I kept thinking it was a boy. So when we found out we were having a girl, I couldn’t stop crying with happiness because it was a proper surprise."

Strictly stars and their children

Gemma Atkinson and Gorka Marquez sit on the sofa with the children
Gorka Marquez, Gemma Atkinson and their children
  • Strictly pro Gorka Marquez and former Strictly contestant Gemma Atkinson share two children, Mia, four, and baby Thiago. 
  • Strictly: It Takes Two host Janette Manrara and her dancer husband Aljaz Skorjanec are parents to baby girl Lyra.
  • Strictly winners Kevin Clifton and Stacey Dooley welcomed baby Minnie in January 2023.
  • Former Strictly pros James and Ola Jordan share a daughter, three-year-old Ella.
  • Former pro Pasha Kovalev and Rachel Riley share two daughters, Maven, three, and Noa, one.
  • Strictly judge and ex-pro Anton du Beke and his wife Hannah share adorable six-year-old twins George and Henrietta.
  • Former Strictly star Artem Chigvintsev and Nikki Bella became parents to son Matteo in July 2000.
  • Professional dancer Natalie Lowe and her husband James Knibbs welcomed their son Jack in December 2020. 
  • Ben Cohen and former Strictly dancer Kristina Rihanoff met in series 11 and now share a six-year-old daughter, Milena.
  • Ex-Strictly pro Brendan Cole and his wife Zoe Hobbs are parents to Aurelia, age 10, and Dante, five.

Explaining how they settled on Lyra’s name, Janette says: "I always loved Rose as a middle name, so I wanted to find a name that was powerful and punchy to go with that aspect of femininity. I Googled lots of names, including constellations of stars, and when I saw Lyra, I really loved the sound of Lyra Rose. I told Aljaz and his face lit up and he said: 'Yes, that’s the name!'"

Former Strictly stars share feeding duties:

The family have now settled into a routine, with Janette and Aljaz, 33, sharing feeding and nappy-changing duties. "We decided not to breastfeed, primarily because we wanted to co-parent and for Aljaz to have that bond with Lyra as well, but also because I didn’t know how complicated it would be to get her on to bottles when I was working. So we decided to go straight to formula and she took to it so well,” says Janette, who returns to her presenting role on Strictly spin-off show It Takes Two next week. "We split the feeds 50-50, and we both love doing it because we see the joy in her eyes when she sees that bottle coming towards her. We also share the night feeds, which means we each get the rest we need so we can be the best possible parents. Lyra’s getting to that point now where she’s sleeping for longer and getting into a bit of a rhythm."

Janette Manrara cuddles baby Lyra
The family have now settled into a routine

The couple have welcomed a succession of visitors, including Strictly friends Katya Jones, Dan Walker, Sara Davies and Rhys Stephenson, Janette’s parents and siblings from Miami and Aljaz’s family from Slovenia, including his nieces Zala, four, and Tisa, two. "My parents have been waiting for 40 years to become grandparents and they were besotted with Lyra," Janette says. "It was the same with Aljaz’s parents, and Lyra’s cousins were our little helpers. They wanted to be there at every nappy change."

Janette and Aljaz's date night:

The couple, who met 13 years ago and married in 2017, are finding time for romance, recently enjoying a dinner date at an Italian restaurant while Aljaz’s sister babysat. "Aljaz came home one day with a bouquet of flowers and a card that said: 'You are an amazing mother and an amazing wife. I love you so much and I would love to take you on a date tonight,'" Janette says. "And he surprised me with a beautiful date night. We got to dress up and I said: 'You look very handsome, Dad,' and he said: 'You look very pretty, Mum.' So the romance between us is still alive. We’re closer than ever because we have a new love in our life that we get to share."

Janette Manrara and Aljaz Skorjanec pose in biscuit coloured tops with baby Lyra
The couple, who met 13 years ago and married in 2017

Aljaz adds: "Janette and I have always been an amazing team, and having a little link on our chain has made it even better. I think strong relationships get stronger when you have children, but children will also expose weaknesses in relationships. It has been beautiful to navigate through this over the past few weeks, with such ease. I think that shows that, 13 years ago, we made the right choice."

It’s this solid teamwork that has enabled Janette to return to the work she loves. The star spent a day in London earlier this month, co-presenting the BBC’s Morning Live and meeting up with her new It Takes Two co-host Fleur East and this year’s Strictly dancers, as she prepares to spend a couple of days a week in the capital over the next three months. 

"I was excited to see everyone, but it was also scary because I was leaving Lyra for the first time and couldn’t wait to get home to her," she says. "But I’m really proud of being able to get back into work, and Aljaz has been my number one cheerleader. It’s wonderful to know that a working mum can still be a great mum."

Aljaz's career break:

Aljaz Skorjanec wears white polo neck as he poses with baby Lyra
Aljaz is a hands-on dad

Aljaz, who is taking a career break to be a hands-on dad after leaving Strictly last year, says: "I can’t wait to do daddy daycare – it’s my favourite job ever. I have waited to be a dad for so long and I feel very lucky to be able to spend so much time with my daughter."

Janette thinks this year’s Strictly, with a line-up including Angela Rippon, Les Dennis, Annabel Croft and EastEnders star Bobby Brazier, will be better than ever. “There are some really good dancers and big personalities, so it’s going to be amazing,” she says. “The magic of Strictly is that there’s something for everyone, whether you’re a grandparent, a teenager or a seven-year-old.

Aljaz Skorjanec wears jumper as he cradles baby Lyra
The dad is very happy spending time with his daughter

"The team constantly pushes forward with the dancing and choreography, as well as the costumes, props and production, which makes it so exciting in the run-up to Christmas. I think that’s what’s kept Strictly alive for so many years."

Baby on tour:

In November, Lyra will get her first proper taste of showbiz life when she joins her parents on tour with their new Christmas show Dancing in a Winter Wonderland. "The grandmas are going to come and help," Janette says. "We want to make things as easy as possible for Lyra, but we are excited that she’s going to be a part of it with us."

There certainly seems to be little doubt that Lyra will enjoy dancing when she is older. "I feel like she was dancing before she was born, especially in the last three or four weeks of my pregnancy," Janette says. "She's going to dance for sure, but whatever she wants to get into, whether that be sports or dance or the arts, we will support her, like our parents did for us." 




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