Brendan Cole drops hints about what actually happened with Strictly Come Dancing partner Natasha Kaplinsky

The former Strictly professional discusses his relationship with the TV newsreader, arguments with Len Goodman – and why he believes his "cards were marked" with new judge Shirley Ballas

John Bishop In Conversation With: Brendan Cole

Brendan Cole has spoken about his heavily-rumoured relationship with Natasha Kaplinsky, insisting that he “didn’t have an affair” during Strictly Come Dancing – because his girlfriend Camilla Dallerup had already left him.


Speaking on W series John Bishop in Conversation With…, the former Strictly professional doesn’t hold back when discussing his relationship with the TV newsreader, as well as addressing arguments with Len Goodman and what happened to make his “cards marked” with the show.

Cole, who was dropped from the Strictly professional line-up for 2018, was partnered with Kaplinsky on series one of the BBC1 show, and the pair went on to become the first ever winners.

They also became the poster boy and girl for ‘the Strictly curse’ after fervent speculation about the nature of their relationship hit the headlines.

“We were very close, Natasha and I, there were no two bones about it; we were extremely close and the chemistry was there, plain for all to see,” he says. “You can’t hide chemistry – it’s almost impossible.”

Natasha Kaplinsky and Brendan Cole
Natasha Kaplinsky and Brendan Cole (Getty)

At the time, his girlfriend was fellow Strictly professional Camilla Dallerup but their relationship broke down during the series. “Camilla left me three weeks into the show – the night she got kicked off the show,” explains Cole.

Looking back on his relationship with Dallerup, Cole said: “We had a long relationship and a career together. Maybe it wasn’t the right one; when I look back now it was great at the time and I loved her and she loved me and that was great…but our relationship was quite unhealthy.

“We had three nights apart in eight years. That is not normal for any relationship. When Strictly came along, all of a sudden you’re not spending every moment together and that’s when relationships can be tested.”

“Another thing that really upsets me is that people – and it’s still reported in the press that I had an affair,” he adds. “Now I didn’t have an affair. Camilla chose to leave and she left. And once you do something after that, it’s not an affair.”

John Bishop In Conversation With: Brendan Cole
John Bishop In Conversation With: Brendan Cole (UKTV)

Addressing his ‘bad boy’ reputation, Cole admitted he was “outspoken” and that he had “a couple of run-ins” with Len Goodman off air.

“Len’s a funny character. He’s very lovely on the show, but off-camera… he’s quite the lad,” said Brendan. “He’s quite strong. I always got on very well with Len – got a lot of respect for him and a lot of time.”

However, he also said that although Craig Revel Horwood was “a great judge” on the show, he didn’t really know Bruno Tonioli.

“I certainly had my run-ins with him [Bruno] over the years, and you know as much as I don’t necessarily get on with him that well, I don’t really know him,” said Brendan. “I’ve probably had half a dozen conversations with him over those 15 years.”

len goodman

When Goodman left the show, a space on the panel opened up. Several names were rumoured to have auditioned for the job of Head Judge – and Brendan was one of them.

“Oh yeah, absolutely,” he says when asked if he went up for the job. “I wanted Shirley’s spot. I went for the audition, did a great audition. I was very proud of my audition.

“I didn’t seriously think I was going to get it – I was a dancer on the show and I didn’t for one second think they were going to give a dancer on the show a spot on the panel.”

Eventually Shirley Ballas was announced as the new face on the panel. Brendan and Shirley had several on-air clashes during the 15th series of Strictly, most notably over his Tango with Charlotte Hawkins in which Shirley said there was “rise and fall” within the routine. He was adamant there wasn’t.

Brendan Cole and Charlotte Hawkins on Strictly Come Dancing

“It was pretty innocuous. It was like, ‘Well I disagree; you’re absolutely 100% wrong’,” reflects Brendan now. “Did we have a run-in off air? No, we had a run-in on air,” he asserts. “In fact, I never saw her backstage. I think I passed her once on the stairs and that was kind of it.”

However, he adds that he believes his “cards were potentially marked” during an appearance on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two during the first week of the show.

Host Zoe Ball asked him that “all the pros must be desperate to impress this megastar of the dance world” in regards to Shirley, to which Brendan retorted: “I imagine she’s more likely wanting to impress us. I’ve been on the show 15 years – she’s just shown up.”

Cole explains that although he sent her a direct message on Twitter following his appearance, in which he said he “didn’t mean any offence” and that he was “just making good telly”, he failed to get a response from Ballas.

“So I’m guessing that one didn’t go down too well and I think my cards were potentially marked from that point on.”


Watch the full interview on John Bishop: In Conversation With Brendan Cole at 10pm, Thursday 2nd August on W.