As a consummate watcher of Strictly Come Dancing I was rather disappointed and upset when Rachel Riley, one of my favourite contestants, was the fifth celebrity to be voted off in this year’s series after losing in the dance-off to another favourite of mine, the delectable Abbey Clancy, less than a month ago.
Since I watch television very rarely during the week, as I go to bed early in order to maintain my routine of rising at 5 am, I did not know who Rachel was but nevertheless marvelled at her fresh-looking personality and her most attractive features. She moved gracefully on the dance floor and had a certain natural élan that in essence I found beguiling.
Later I was to discover that beneath her outward pleasant looks she is a brainbox and a television co-presenter of Countdown. At twenty-seven she seems to have scaled the heights of early success as maths expert with a television presence of some magnitude.
Riley, who replaced the formidable Carol Vorderman on the popular Channel 4 daytime show in 2009, has now left her husband, Jamie Gilbert, just over a year after they married in August 2012, in front of guests including Nick Hewer, her Countdown co-host.
This is not the first time a Strictly contestant has announced the end of their relationship shortly after appearing on the BBC1 show. In July, Denise van Outen, last year’s runner-up, revealed that her four-year marriage to Lee Mead, an actor, was over, and Brendon Cole, a professional dancer, left his partner of eight years, Camilla Dallerup, after appearing with Natasha Kaplinsky, the newsreader.
Flavia Cacace, an ex-Strictly dancer dated Matt Di Angelo, a former EastEnders actor, after being partnered with him and shortly ending an eleven-year relationship with show co-star Vincent Simone.
Earlier this year, Flavia announced her engagement to her 2010 dancing partner, the actor Jimi Mistry. Mr Gilbert, thirty-one, Rachel’s husband, is ‘distraught and stunned’, a family friend told the Sun newspaper. ‘He has no idea where this has come from. Rachel just told him they had grown apart.’
I can well understand his great sorrow at her desertion. She seems a young jewel whose loss will be shattering to any man, let alone one who had the good fortune of being her husband and lover. It seems the show’s romantic ‘curse’ has yet again struck, to cause havoc to two people whose lives will now change forever.
Notwithstanding this twist of fate, women are to be worshipped despite their being unpredictable treasures who sometimes cause pain and heartache in equal measure. For damnation often follows a period dotted with moments of ecstasy and sensual gratification. The experience is a learning curve that makes life a perpetual challenge, keeping the heartbeat in good shape and our minds alert and responsive.