Strictly’s Karim Zeroual, 25, is secretly dating stunning Manchester University student Poppy Hannah Birtwistle

Strictly’s Karim Zeroual, 25, is secretly dating stunning Manchester University student Poppy Hannah Birtwistle

- in Gossip

KIDS TV presenter Karim Zeroual became an ­instant fan favourite on Strictly after his impressive cha-cha during the first episode.

But there’s no chance of bagging a date with him, as I can reveal Karim, 25, is dating ­Manchester student Poppy Hannah Birtwistle.


It has been revealed that Strictly’s Karim Zeroual is dating uni student Poppy Hannah Birtwistle – here the couple are pictured with Amy Dowden and Ben Jones at an after-party[/caption]

The couple have been together for three years and decided to keep their relationship out of the spotlight when Karim’s CBBC career started to take off.

But while Poppy has not been pictured publicly with Karim, she has been to rehearsals with him and has met his dance partner Amy Dowden.

A source said: “Karim was really keen to involve Poppy in his training and wanted her to meet Amy to make sure she felt ­comfortable.

“They got on really well which is great because Karim knows he’ll be spending long hours with Amy and he wants Poppy to feel secure about it.”


The couple had kept their relationship quiet, but a source says Karim was keen for Poppy to meet his dance partner Amy[/caption]

The CBBC presenter became an instant fan favourite with his impressive cha-cha last week

Poppy was in the audience to watch Karim perform for the first time on Saturday and proudly posed backstage with him.

She also joined him for a snap with Amy and her fiancé, dancer Ben Jones, at the after-party at the studios in Elstree.

The insider added: “They’ve become a really tight unit and are already planning on getting together outside of rehearsals.

“Amy wants Karim to be as happy as possible during his time on the show as the more relaxed he is, the more likely he is to train harder and go on to win. She’s got high hopes for him.”


A source says Karim wants Poppy to be comfortable with the amount of time he’ll be spending with Amy, especially as Amy thinks he could go all the way[/caption]

Karim is one of the favourites to win the BBC dancing competition, alongside former Emmerdale actor Kelvin Fletcher.

The soap veteran topped the leaderboard with an impressive 32 points following his samba with Oti Mabuse.

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WHAT? Doc Martin, ITV, 9pm.

WHY? Martin Clunes is back for another series as GP Martin Ellingham in sleepy Cornwall.

In this first episode he faces a probe by the General Medical Council.

Chris’s banana drama

COMIC and Strictly contender Chris Ramsey has not seen the funny side of the codename he was given by the show’s bosses – Bananaman.

He said: “What the f*** is up with that? Someone was Superman, someone was the Hulk, someone was Wonder Woman. I was Bananaman.

Chris Ramsey was ‘livid’ with the nickname he was given by Strictly bosses

“Everyone else was Marvel characters and I was a child’s character. I’m still angry about it. He’s not a superhero, he’s a cartoon invented to make kids eat fruit. Honestly, I’m livid.”

Bosses give contestants secret names to try to stop reporters like me revealing who they are ahead of a formal unveiling.

Chris also told how he slipped up before the show started, dropping his wife Rosie in a practice session.


MADE In Chelsea had its own Fleabag moment when Sam Thompson referenced the show – a first for the E4 title.

In a fiery exchange about a new fling, Sam revealed he had found out about it from “watching it on Made In Chelsea”.

Mike’s wife up for Katya pairing

AFTER she snogged Seann Walsh during last year’s series, I can’t imagine many women being happy about their partner being paired with Katya Jones.

But TV newsman Mike Bushell said his wife Emily Bond is delighted.


Mike Bushell says his wife Emily Bond is delighted he’s been paired with Katya Jones on Strictly[/caption]

On Chris Moyles’ Radio X breakfast show, Mike said: “My wife thought Katya would be the best choreographer because she takes risks.

“She loves the show and got me into it last year.”

Referring to Katya’s 2016 dance partner, BBC sports presenter Mike added: “And if you can get Ed Balls to Blackpool then we can at least get to Halloween.”

Let’s hope there are no more scary surprises along the way eh, Katya?


RYLAN Clark-Neal had already met Strictly’s Emma Weymouth before the show.

He said on Strictly: It Takes Two that he had performed a Spice Girls mega-mix at her wedding reception in 2013, sharing a photo of the two from the day.

Chris to follow Jesy way

HIS pop star girlfriend Jesy Nelson captivated the nation with her powerful BBC documentary about her experience of online bullying, and now Chris Hughes is taking viewers on a personal journey of his own.

I’m told the former Love Islander is working on a new BBC series with his brother Ben, about Ben’s battle with testicular cancer.


Chris Hughes is set to follow in girlfriend Jesy Nelson’s footsteps as he prepares to film a hard-hitting documentary himself[/caption]

It’s not known when it will be on screen, but I understand what has been filmed already is a powerful watch.

A source said: “Chris has become a well-known face among young people and producers were impressed with how he and his brother have helped to raise awareness of a condition that could affect lots of men.

“They started work on it earlier this year, and it should be on telly soon.”

Chris was praised for raising awareness of testicular cancer when he had his bits checked live on ITV’s This Morning last November.

Rex Features

Chris, who has been praised for raising awareness of testicular cancer, will appear in a BBC documentary with his brother Ben[/caption]

His appearance led to Ben discovering he had cancer just days afterwards.

Ben then revealed he was free of cancer four months after having one of his testicles removed.

He revealed in January that after the operation and biopsy the cancer had not spread anywhere else in his body.


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