‘It’s been a tough period for us both:’ Strictly’s Ugo Monye SPLITS from his wife of five years Lucy just a week before the start of the new series
Strictly’s Ugo Monye has split from his wife of five years Lucy just a week before the start of the new series.
The England rugby union star and new A Question of Sport team captain, 38, shares two daughters Phoenix, four, and Ruby, one, with Lucy, 32, who he met in 2014.
In a new interview he told how the break up has been a ‘tough period for us both’ and that there was no ‘third party’ involved, quipping: ‘Forget the Strictly curse – it’s the Covid curse!’
Sad news: Strictly’s Ugo Monye has split from his wife of five years Lucy just a week before the start of the new series (Lucy is pictured in 2019 while pregnant with their second daughter)
He told The Sun: ‘It’s been hard, at times things have seemed a bit overwhelming but it’s been a tough period for us both. In some relationships there is a moment, a ‘thing’, that breaks the couple.
‘It can be an exterior influence. It can be anything. But with us it was a number of things. We weren’t in a volatile relationship, we never hated each other and there was no third party. Forget the Strictly curse — it’s the Covid curse! We ended up where we ended up.
‘It’s been a difficult, multi-faceted situation but there is no animosity. We’ve got two incredible young girls who we love so much, so our focus is very much on the kids, protecting and fostering this amazing family unit.’
Honest: In a new interview he told how the break up has been a ‘tough period for us both’ and that there was no ‘third party’ involved, quipping: ‘Forget the Strictly curse — it’s the Covid curse!’
He added that he and Lucy are currently in a ‘good place’ and have even been discussing the idea of going on holiday as a family next summer, going on to say that she is an ‘amazing person’ and ‘incredible mum’.
Ugo reportedly moved out of the family home in West London a few weeks ago.
News of the split comes following the death of his father from prostate cancer last week.
Ugo will find out on Sunday who he is paired with for Strictly but says that he is ‘not thinking about romance’ at the moment.
Family: The England rugby union star and new A Question of Sport team captain, 38, shares two daughters Phoenix, four, and Ruby, one, with Lucy who he met in 2014
Honest: He told The Sun : ‘It’s been hard, at times things have seemed a bit overwhelming but it’s been a tough period for us both. In some relationships there is a moment, a ‘thing’, that breaks the couple’
He added that he didn’t want to pull out of the show as it is a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ and is a ‘ray of positivity’ in ‘bad times of late’.
Ugo said when he signed up for the show: ‘What a dream come true! Strictly is the biggest entertainment show on TV and I can’t wait to show everyone I’ve got more than just dad dancing moves.’
Beginning his rugby career at Harlequins in 2002, Ugo went on to make 241 appearances for the club where he scored 89 tries, won a Premiership and made his England debut in 2008.
Sweet: He added that he and Lucy are currently in a ‘good place’ and have even been discussing the idea of going on holiday as a family next summer, going on to say that she is an ‘amazing person’ and ‘incredible mum’
While the curse of Strictly hasn’t struck Ugo, the show had already been hit by the phenomenon as new professional Kai Widdrington split from his long-term girlfriend in July.
The former Britain’s Got Talent star, 25, is one of four new dancers that will dazzle in the ballroom this autumn and had been in a relationship with fellow dancer Giulia Dotta, 29, for five years.
A spokesperson for Giulia – who is Italian – confirmed to The Mirror that they were no longer together. They went their separate ways nine months ago.
Not moving on: Ugo will find out on Sunday who he is paired with for Strictly but says that he is ‘not thinking about romance’ at the moment (pictured with Lucy in 2019(
Cute: Monye regularly shares updates on his family life on his Instagram account
The pair worked on Ireland’s Dancing With The Stars together which has run for four series.
A source told the publication: ‘Signing up to Strictly is like a death sentence for almost any relationship.’
Friends added that they thought Kai and Giulia would eventually get married and have children.
The alleged Strictly curse sees couples break up and fall for their professional dance partners.
STRICTLY COME DANCING 2021: WHO ARE THE CONTESTANTS?
Profession: McFly musician
Tom says: ‘I’m so pleased the news is out it’s been so hard keeping it secret. Equal parts excited and terrified.’
Fun fact: Tom’s McFly bandmate Harry Judd won Strictly Come Dancing in 2011. Tom’s wife Giovanna Fletcher is the reigning champion of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
Profession: Actor and comedian
Robert says: ‘It’s very exciting but with a slight undertone of quivering terror.’
Fun Fact: Robert squeezed into a shiny leotard to take the title of Let’s Dance For Comic Relief in 2009, performing What A Feeling from ’80s film Flashdance, beating the likes of Keith Lemon and Paddy McGuinness to the title.
Profession: CBBC presenter
Rhys says: ‘I have dreamt about being on this show, and I know for a fact that it is going to exceed every expectation’
Fun fact: Rhys has been an actor since the age of ten, performing alongside Matt Smith and Hugh Bonneville.
Katie says: ‘I’m really not a dancer, but I’m so excited to learn a new skill on this crazy journey and cannot wait to slip into some sequins along the way.’
Fun fact: Katie, who played Sinead Tinker in Corrie, won a NTA for Best Serial Drama Performance in 2020.
Profession: CBBC presenter
Tilly says: ’I’m going to put my heart and soul into this and can’t wait to get my dancing shoes on!’
Fun fact: Tilly’s father is celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and the pair often star in dancing TikTok videos.
Nina says: ‘I think I should do this before I’m too old and can’t walk anymore. I just want to grab life by the horns and just enjoy it.’
Fun fact: Nina is a JDRF Ambassador and was awarded an OBE in the 2021 New Year’s Honours List.
Adam says: ‘I’m really looking forward to doing something totally different and challenging myself away from the pool.’
Fun fact: Adam becoming the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.
Profession: Rugby player and sports pundit
Ugo says: ‘What a dream come true! Strictly is the biggest entertainment show on TV and I can’t wait to show everyone I’ve got more than just dad dancing moves.
Fun fact: Beginning his rugby career at Harlequins in 2002, Ugo went on to make 241 appearances for the club where he scored 89 tries, won a Premiership and made his England debut in 2008.
Profession: TV presenter
AJ says: ‘I think it’s going to be really challenging. I can’t wait for the sequins, the wigs, the glitz and the glamour.’
Fun Fact: Apocalypse Wow hosts AJ has featured on a whopping 14 TV shows this year, competing in the likes oF Cooking With The Stars and Celebrity Karaoke Club. She has appeared as a panelist on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two in the past, too.
Profession: Great British Bake Off Winner and TV chef
John says: ‘I’m so grateful, excited, and nervous to be joining the Strictly 2021 family… I’ve been wearing sequins and jazzy attire since I was three years old and can’t wait to hurl myself, full throttle, around the most glamorous dance floor on earth’
Fun Fact: John is set tp be part of the first ever all-male partnering – the first in 17 years of the show.
Sara says: ‘I’m really nervous because so far the producers keep asking me if I can dance… Truth be told – I haven’t got a clue! I’ve not danced since I did ballet lessons when I was little.’
Fun fact: Sara was the youngest ever dragon on BBC show Dragons’ Den.
Dan says: ‘I’m enjoying the experience when it starts of learning to dance. I’ll be honest I’m not making room on any shelves in my house for the glitterball.’
Fun fact: Dan recently quit Football Focus after 12 years at the helm and has been covering Tokyo Olympics.
Greg says: ‘It’s about being out there and exposing yourself as someone who can’t dance, and learning.’
Fun fact: Greg is married to the actress Emma Thompson who he met while filming Sense and Sensibility.
Rose says: ‘I hope I will do the deaf community proud and break down more barriers. I am also very excited to learn an incredible new skill.’
Fun fact: Rose will make history as Strictly’s first deaf contestant.
Judi says: ‘I’m truly looking forward to pushing myself in something that I could have only dreamed of doing and now it’s actually coming true!’
Fun fact: Judi began comedy when she performed a set in front of her class for a degree module.
VICTIMS OF THE STRICTLY CURSE
A look back at when The Curse struck… starting all the way back with series 1
Series 1: Natasha Kaplinsky and Brendan Cole
Did they/didn’t they? Natasha Kaplinsky and her hunky partner Brendan Cole sparked affair rumours
Strictly hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons during season one. Viewers were transfixed by the apparent close bond between newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky and her hunky partner Brendan Cole.
Although the pair went on to win the show, their success was blighted by affair rumours.
BBC presenter Natasha soon split from long-term partner Mike Barnard while Brendan dumped his fiancée and fellow dancer Camilla Dallerup.
Writing in her book Strictly Inspirational, Camilla said their split was like a ‘mini death’.
‘You go through the arc of grief, anger, bitterness,’ she said. ‘My best friend and dancing professionally with Brendan had both gone.’
However, Natasha has always denied any wrongdoing, saying: ‘There was chemistry, of course, and I certainly fell in love with dancing, but I did not fall in love with Brendan.’
Series 5: Matt Di Angelo and Flavia Cacace
Of all the Strictly romances there’s been over the years, this remains one of the most interesting.
Clandestine: Before long gossip was raging about how Flavia and Matt, then 19, were secretly in love
Flavia Cacace was in a long-term relationship with her dance partner Vincent Simone when she was partnered with Matt Di Angelo in 2007. He was eight years her junior.
Before long gossip was raging about how Flavia and Matt, then 19, were secretly in love. Shortly after the show finished she called time on her romance with Vincent and went public with Matt.
Looking back at their partnership, Matt told Daily Mail: ‘It was a pretty crazy time. It was front page news.
‘The funny thing was the story did not start off as true, but the more you read it, the more you started to believe it and actually act on it.’
Their romance ended in 2010, and a few weeks later Flavia admitted she was dating her latest dance partner, actor Jimi Mistry, who she went on to marry.
Series 7: Joe Calzaghe and Kristina Rihanoff
Not to be: Kristina is said to have also wanted children while Joe already has two sons from a previous relationship
Over: Unfortunately for Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev their relationship didn’t manage to go the distance
Scandal: Kristina Rihanoff was recently forced to defend her romance with Strictly partner Ben Cohen
Former boxer Joe Calzaghe split with his girlfriend of five years Jo-Emma Larvin just a week into the show in 2009.
The sportsman began a relationship with Russian dancer Kristina Rihanoff soon afterwards.
The pair enjoyed a four-year romance but parted ways after Joe reportedly asked Kristina not to accept a role dancing in a stage production.
Speaking to Hello! Kristina said: ‘He was sick and tired of waiting around for me, and said that if I truly loved him, I wouldn’t have taken the job in the West End.’
Kristina is said to have also wanted children while Joe already has two sons from a previous relationship.
Series 8: Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev
Unfortunately for Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev their relationship didn’t manage to go the distance.
After winning the show in 2010 the pair hooked up, love quickly blossomed and they moved into a London home together.
However, it’s believed Russian Artem’s visa issues saw him having to spend time apart from Kara for months on end and they eventually decided to call it a day.
Actress Kara welcomed her baby son, Frey with fiancé Marius Jensen in 2018, while Artem has struck up a romance with retired WWE wrestler, Nikki Bella since moving to the US to compete on Dancing With the Stars in 2014.
Series 11: Ben Cohen and Kristina Rihanoff
Kristina Rihanoff was recently forced to defend her romance with Strictly partner Ben Cohen insisting that their relationship only began once his 11 year marriage to wife Abby had come to an end.
‘He left his wife a year ago,’ she told Daily Mirror. ‘Recently we started dating but we’re allowed to see each other as two single people.’
Kristina – who has also dated Vincent Simone and ex partner Joe Calzaghe – said there have been other couples, yet she is the only one to be ‘attacked’.
She said: ‘Ben’s said it many times and I’ll say it again – I wasn’t involved in the breaking up of his marriage.’
Meanwhile Abby described the split and resultant divorce as ‘the most traumatic thing to ever happen to me’.
Ben, 37, met Abby in 1995 at the age of 17, and the couple married in 2003 before welcoming their daughters in 2008.
Series 11: Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev
‘It doesn’t exist!’ Rachel Riley brushed aside the fact that The Curse exists, after she left her husband and got together with pro Pasha Kovalev
On the same series, Countdown’s math whiz Rachel Riley’s relationship with her pro partner Pasha Kovalev ultimately ended her marriage to her husband of just one year.
She wed Jamie Gilbert in 2012, taking part on 2013’s season of the dancing show. By the end of 2013, they had split and she was with Pasha – which she claims began after the show came to an end.
‘On Strictly, you form a close bond with your partner, but there was nothing romantic when Pasha and I were dancing. It was just dancing,’ she told the Mail the following January, insisting there’s no such thing as The Curse.
‘[Strictly] serves as a magnifying glass that shows up pre-existing fault lines,’ she said, explaining the situation. She is still with Pasha today.
Series 11: Susanna Reid
Epiphany: Shortly after the show ended, the TV host split from her long-term partner Dominic Cotton
Divorcee: Actress Sunetra Sarker also announced her marriage split after starring on Strictly
Susanna Reid was another victim of series 11. She was billed as the most popular breakfast TV host and in a 15-year relationship when she reached the Strictly Come Dancing final that year.
However shortly after the show ended, the TV host split from her long-term partner Dominic Cotton.
However, mother-of-three Susanna, who was paired with professional Kevin Clifton, said the programme was not to blame for her love problems.
Good Morning Britain presenter Susanna told Daily Mirror: ‘I think people think Strictly was bound up in what happened. It wasn’t. Obviously things have been challenging in my personal life but we are getting things sorted.’
Series 12: Sunetra Sarker
Actress Sunetra Sarker also announced her marriage split after starring on Strictly.
She parted ways with her husband Nick Corfield after ten years of marriage just before the programme hit the screens.
The couple first met in 1989 while on holiday in Jersey and have a 13-year-old son together.
However, she said the romance had ended long before her reality show stint: ‘The truth is three years ago me and my husband amicably split up and it obviously had nothing to do with Strictly.’
The Casualty actress, who plays Dr Zoe Hanna in the BBC medical drama, is now said to be dating business partner Scott Carey. Together, the pair set up the food firm Keep Me Fresh.
Series 12: Caroline Flack
Caroline Flack broke up with her boyfriend of a year and a half, Jack Street, after making her way into the Strictly Come Dancing semi-final.
The price of success: Caroline Flack broke up with her boyfriend of a year and a half, Jack Street, after making her way into the Strictly Come Dancing semi-final
According to The Sun, she was ‘distraught’ backstage at the BBC show, but managed to put on a brave face to wow with her Tango and top the leader board.
A source close to her told the newspaper: ‘It came to a natural end and was mutual.’
Some contestants have ended relationships to engage in a romance with their dance partner on the show, but the source noted that in Caroline’s case, this wasn’t the reason.
‘No one else is involved,’ they stated.
Caroline had been seeing music manager Jack for around 18 months and she previously said that he was fine with her working on the talent show despite its reputation.
‘Jack’s been completely fine about the whole curse thing,’ she said, quoted in The Mirror. ‘He hasn’t once been worried’.
Series 13: Helen George
Over and out: Actress Helen George announced her split from husband of three years, fellow actor Oliver Boot, after she was revealed as a contestant on the show
It did not take long before the dreaded curse of Strictly struck again.
Actress Helen George announced her split from husband of three years, fellow actor Oliver Boot, after she was revealed as a contestant on the show.
‘I can confirm that Helen separated from her husband some time ago,’ a spokesperson for the star said. She has not been linked to any fellow Strictly contestants or professional dancers.
A Royal Academy Of Music graduate, Helen is best known for starring as Nurse Beatrix ‘Trixie’ Franklin in the hit BBC period drama Call The Midwife.
George has also performed as a back-up singer for Sir Elton John and starred in a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Zippel called The Woman In White.
She met her former partner on set of BBC drama Hotel Babylon, and the couple married in December 2012.
Break-up: Shortly after she finished runner-up in the final, she and Sean announced their split
Series 13: Georgia May Foote
The actress was in a relationship with her Coronation Street co-star Sean Ward when she took part in the 2015 series of the show.
But cracks began to show as it was reported that Sean was enraged with jealousy over her decision to take part, and even allegedly accompanied her to rehearsals at the beginning of her Strictly journey.
Shortly after she finished runner-up in the final, she and Sean announced their split – with Georgia seen kissing her dance partner Giovanni Pernice during a romantic trip to Disneyland soon after.
However, shortly before rehearsals for the 2016 series began, Georgia and Giovanni called time on their romance after just a year.
Giovanni has since moved on with 2018 contestant and former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts, while Georgia is dating rapper Kris Evans.
Series 14: Louise and Jamie Redknapp
Divorced: Louise Redknapp appeared on the series in 2016, after which she and Jamie were said to be facing marital issues
Footballer Jamie Redknapp is said to have been offered a place on the Strictly line-up recently, but understandably has refused after the series was blamed for the demise of his marriage to wife Louise.
Louise appeared on the series in 2016, after which she and Jamie were said to be facing marital issues. By the end of 2017, they were divorced.
It was highly-speculated that Louise realised, during the show, that she wanted to get back to work having sacrificed her career for her marriage – with co-star Daisy Lowe said to have helped her ‘rediscover her youth’.
A TV source said: ‘Strictly used to be show that no celebrity ever turned down. But the Curse has changed all that. There is now a genuine concern that appearing on the show can negatively impact relationships. Jamie only has negative feelings about Strictly now. There’s absolutely no way he would appear.’
Louise was also rumoured to have struck up a romantic bond with her pro partner Kevin Clifton, but this has never been confirmed.
Series 14: Kevin and Karen Clifton
Split: The Cliftons – a married pair of pro dancers – split romantically in 2018
Despite the rumours surrounding thrice-married Kevin while he partnered with Louise, nothing seemed to transpire between the two. He was, of course, married at the time too – to fellow pro Karen Clifton.
However, since then, the pair have split up.
Kevin proposed to her, on her birthday, on stage during a performance of Burn the Floor and they wed in July 2015. But in March 2018, they confirmed that they were no longer together romantically.
They have since continued to work together as a pro dance partnership, however, insisting there is no bad blood.
Series 16: Stacey Dooley, Sam Tucknott and Kevin Clifton
We’re done: Stacey’s boyfriend of five years Sam Tucknott, 30, revealed Stacey had left him in an interview with the Mail On Sunday
Stacey’s boyfriend of five years Sam Tucknott, 30, revealed Stacey had left him in an interview with the Mail On Sunday in April. He called her dance partner, three-times married Kevin Clifton, 36, a slippery snake
Sam confronted Kevin in furious video chat where he branded him a ‘proper rat’. He told MoS in an exclusive interview he feels betrayed by the new couple’s romance.
It has been alleged that Stacey and Kevin’s relationship was an ‘open secret’ on the Strictly tour News has cast shadow over latest series of show, resurrecting the so-called ‘Strictly curse’ that has seen 14 couples split.
The TV presenter, 32, broke her silence on Twitter soon after, insisting there ‘are two sides to every story’
All over: In August 2019, just ahead of series 17, Neil and Katya announced their split after 11 years of marriage
Series 16/17: Katya and Neil Jones
2018 saw The Curse strike early on in the season, with drama escalating just three weeks into the live shows.
In a new twist, a love square formed when Katya Jones, who is married to fellow show professional Neil, was snapped all over her celeb partner, comedian Seann Walsh, on the street outside a pub in London. This took part on Sean’s girlfriend’s – actress and writer Rebecca Humphries – birthday, no less.
Dumped: Neil and Katya’s break-up comes 10 months after her kiss with Seann (pictured with ex-girlfriend Rebecca Humphries)
The pair brushed it off as a ‘one-off mistake’, despite them kissing and laughing brazenly in public. Since then, Rebecca ‘dumped’ Seann via a Twitter statement.
Seann and Katya did not pull out of the show, with their dalliance a gigantic elephant in the room as they still performed on the series, with Neil on set too.
However, In August 2019, just ahead of series 17, Neil and Katya announced their split after 11 years of marriage. The break-up coming just 10 months after her kiss with Seann.
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