Strictly’s Kevin Clifton reveals AJ Pritchard tried to steal his lover Stacey Dooley during the show’s secret Chemistry Circle

Strictly’s Kevin Clifton reveals AJ Pritchard tried to steal his lover Stacey Dooley during the show’s secret Chemistry Circle

- in Gossip

LIKE rutting stags, the males surround the females and begin a groin-thrusting ritual in a desperate bid to win the best partner.

The steamy spectacle isn’t a mating scene from a David Attenborough nature show, it’s actually one of Strictly Come Dancing’s best-kept secrets — the Chemistry Circle.

PA:Press Association

BBC1’s new behind-the-scenes Strictly doc has revealed some well-kept show secrets, including how Kevin Clifton had to fight for Stacey Dooley[/caption]

Before the celebrities and professionals are paired up for the start of each series, they perform a sexy salsa in a circle, constantly swapping partners, as producers decide who will look good together.

But since so many pairs have also ended up in bed, some of the pros also refer to it as The Speed Dating Circle.

It’s just one of the behind-the-scenes revelations in Saturday night documentary Strictly: The Professionals, which gets fans revved up for next week’s first live show on BBC1.

The programme even reveals how some of the men lock horns over the ladies, with Kevin Clifton earning a reputation as the most territorial.

PA:Press Association

Kevin revealed that he was in competition with AJ Pritchard who was also trying to line Stacey up as his dance partner last year[/caption]

During last year’s Chemistry Circle he made a beeline for Stacey Dooley — the woman who captured his heart, and the dance partner he won the contest with.

But in a scene reminiscent of that other TV nature show, Love Island, he nearly lost her to rival male AJ Pritchard.

Kevin, 36, said: “Last year with Stacey in the salsa circle I was going for it — bang, bang, bang — overdoing it.

“And then at one point we were on a coffee break and AJ interrupted us in the middle of us talking and took her away, because he wanted to get to know and see what she was about. I was like, ‘It’s not Love Island, mate!’ ”

Kevin confessed that he made particular effort to try and get paired with Stacey during the Chemistry Circle
The pros explained that this is where producers see who looks good together and begin the plan their celeb/professional pairings

The programme features Kevin recalling his battle with AJ over Stacey to fellow pro Aljaz Skorjanec, who responds: “He broke your heart!”

Katya Jones said that three-times-married Kevin was always the pro who was the most determined to bag a ­particular woman.

She added: “You can really see when somebody tries to show there’s extra chemistry. For me, it’s Kevin — you can always see it.”

Though the circle is a ­familiar annual event for the pro dancers, for the celebs experiencing it for the first time it’s an eerie moment.

Producers are on the look out for a sense of attraction, which is possibly why the routine has come to be known as The Speed Dating Circle

Actor Jake Wood — Max Branning in EastEnders — remembers his circle dance when he signed up for the programme in 2014.

He said: “All the producers walk around and look, and you’re not sure what they’re looking at.”

Presenter Mark Wright, who also competed in 2014, was just as freaked out.

He said: “You’re like, ‘Are they gonna kick me off the show?’ Because they’re just staring at you. But they’re seeing the chemistry.”

Rex Features

Katya Jones, who has been hit by the Strictly curse herself, said Kevin was always the one who was the most determined to bag a ­particular woman[/caption]

The show also reveals that the pros are always anxious to find out who they are paired with. And when they discover their partner, they hit the internet to answer two crucial questions.

AJ, 24, said: “When the names get released it’s a quick search — for me, their height and probably where they live.”

Comic Brian Conley, who took part in 2017’s Strictly, recalled: “Everybody’s coming up to you, saying, ‘Where do you live? Where do you live?’

“I thought, ‘Why does everybody want to know where I live?’ It’s because they know they’ve got to rehearse with you and they don’t want you too far away.”

PA:Press Association

Katie Derham, who appeared on the show in 2015, explained that the professionals want to know where the celebs live so they don’t have to travel too far for rehearsals[/caption]

Newsreader Katie Derham, who competed in 2015, added: “What they really don’t want is somebody who lives in the middle of Dartmoor or ­something, and in panto and really busy.”

Pro dancer Oti Mabuse has an unusual test which her dance partners have to pass.

She said: “If I meet my celeb, I literally scare them, and if they laugh, I think, ‘We’ll have a good time,’ but if they go, ‘All right!’ I’m like, ‘This is not gonna work.’”

And some of the celebs still vividly recall 29-year-old Oti deliberately scaring them ­during their initial meetings.

TV doctor Ranj Singh, who appeared in Strictly last year, said: “The first thing Oti said to me was, ‘Are you scared of me?’ And I was like, ‘Should I be?’ ”

The 2018 series runner-up, Joe Sugg, agreed, saying: “And me — she did that to me too.”

Kevin also admitted it took him three tries to be hired by Strictly bosses — while his then wife and dance partner Karen Hauer was signed up at her first attempt in 2012.

It was largely down to Kevin’s unusual look at the time of auditioning.

In the documentary, Kevin also revealed that he was rejected from the show twice as producers didn’t quite like his Gothic look

He said: “I had long black hair, eyeliner, black fingernails — ‘Don’t think I’m your average ballroom dancer, guys!’

“They said, ‘We’d love to take Karen, but not that guy. We’ve no need for this Gothic scarecrow who thinks he’s the rock star of the ballroom.’”

After a second rejection, Kevin was forced to take a very low-profile job in a 2012 trailer for Strictly.


His persistence clearly paid off as he went on to win last year’s competition with Stacey, and the pair are dating[/caption]

He said: “The idea for it was that these Strictly stars would be dancing with an invisible partner — ‘Who’s it gonna be?’ That invisible partner was me — I just wanted a job.

“That’s me in the morph suit carrying all the Strictly ­dancers about, then being rubbed out of the trailer.

“And then two or three days later I got the call to say we can have you on the show.”

  •  Strictly The Professionals is on BBC1 on Saturday at 7pm.

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