WHEN glamorous Maura Higgins unveiled her new romance with fellow Love Islander Chris Taylor online this week, she lapped up messages of congrat- ulations from her fans.
But for former boyfriend Curtis Pritchard, with who she reached the final of the hit ITV2 dating show last year, it was the knife in the back he had long feared.
In loved-up snaps, Maura cuddled Chris — who she had always insisted would never be more than a friend, despite them regularly spending nights together while she was dating Curtis.
Now in an exclusive interview, 24-year-old dancer Curtis reveals what really went on between him and his ex — and tells how he feels “stabbed in the back” by Maura and former pal Chris.
Curtis, whose brother AJ, a former Strictly pro dancer, is currently competing in I’m A Celebrity, says: “I feel betrayed by them both — two people I was very close to.
“When I saw the pictures, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel hurt. I was upset. How long has this truly been going on for?
“At the time I was accused of cheating, but I never did. I was always faithful to Maura.
“If you look back on everything — and I am looking back on it now — I’m like, ‘Curtis, all the signs were bloomin’ there, why didn’t you realise then?’
“You just don’t when you are in that situation. You trust what they say. Now her true colours are shown. They said they would never ever be together, and here they are.”
Cracks in Curtis’s relationship with Maura began to appear last Christmas when he was appearing in pantomime and she was rehearsing for ITV’s Dancing On Ice. Rumours that she was growing close to her professional skating partner Alex Demetriou intensified their problems.
But, as Curtis explains, Chris was always waiting in the wings nearby while he felt increasingly isolated and pushed away until they finally split in March, just seven months after leaving the show’s Majorcan villa.
He adds: “When we were on Love Island, Chris was upset in the villa a lot. I supported him and backed him up. I was a really good person to Chris — and he told me then that he fancied Maura.
“But later on it all disappeared. He unfollowed me online, then Maura unfollowed me too.
“I was accused of cheating on Maura by someone online but when that happened, Maura was in a club with Chris. He was pouring drinks into her mouth, and Maura’s pouring drinks into Chris’s mouth — and they were staying together too at times like that.
“I got all of the stick at the time, that’s why I never spoke about it. But really I should have confronted her and spoken about it, but I never did – until now.
“I really regret that. Looking back on the whole situation, I think it started around pantomime time.
“She came and watched me once (in panto) and I just didn’t feel right. She could have come other times. I was giving total support to her, but I wasn’t getting it in return.
“That’s when she started the Dancing On Ice rehearsals. When the show started on TV I wanted to come and watch her. I’d be waiting at home cooking dinner for when she finished, trying to look after her. I treated her like a queen.
“I’d have done anything for her but after the first couple of shows she just asked me to stop coming. That hurt me. I just didn’t understand why she didn’t want me to come.
“The strange thing was loads of other people were still coming. Chris was going all the time. I’d keep asking but she’d always say no.
“It will be even more heartbreaking if I find that all the time she was accusing me of things, it was so she’d feel better about what she was doing.”
Curtis — who is about to appear in E4’s new series of Celebs Go Dating in a bid to find love once more — says his humiliation will be easier to bear if Maura and Chris’s romance lasts.
He adds: “I have seen their posts online but I don’t contact them and they haven’t contacted me. The worst thing is the amount of hate and trash that was thrown at me when we split.
“There were so many accusations about me, even though nothing ever happened. But it didn’t just affect me, it was everyone around me — my whole family, my mum, my dad and my brother. It was all lies.
SO MUCH HURT
“There were times when they’ve read things she has said that I said to her, and I never even said them.
“For example, she says I told her she only got jobs because of me. But that isn’t true. I had never said those things to Maura.
“All these things play on my mind. I remember them all so clearly because there was no truth to it whatsoever.
“That’s why I didn’t want to comment on it all. I don’t want to respond to nonsense or to be stirring and trying to cause something bigger.
“I stayed silent for too long. Now that has all been thrown back in my face, and that’s putting it mildly. It has all become clear to me.”
But he adds: “If I bump into them, I’ll just say congratulations and I hope it really does turn out to be ‘the one’.
“If it came from the sort of beginnings which I think it did, I hope it lasts. Otherwise it’s a real shame to have caused so much hurt.
“But we’re very lucky to have the incredible life we can live and it’s easy to take it all for granted.
“I’m doing Celebs Go Dating at the moment, and I hope I’ll meet someone new and put all this behind me.
“And some people need to really look at their own morals.”
READ ON FOR MORE OF THE BIZ ON SUNDAY BIZARRE COLUMN
Red pout Posh
VICTORIA Beckham puts on her posh lippy and drives fans wild with this sultry Instagram snap.
The former Spice Girls singer shared the photo with her 29million Instagram followers to plug a beauty sale.
She wrote: “A rare red lip moment! Wearing Posh Lipstick in Pop to remind you that for the first time ever @victoriabeckhambeauty have 20% off everything, exclusively at victoriabeckham.beauty.com.”
Fans commented on Victoria’s ageless appearance. One said: “Red suits you, you look like you did in Spice Girls you don’t age.” Another added: “You look beautiful!”
That should help shift a few boxes of beauty products.
BY writing songs about her ex Brooklyn Beckham, Hana Cross hasn’t strayed far from her specialist subject.
And we can now reveal that her debut single Once or Twice – which lays bare her heartbreak with Brooklyn – is ready for release, and was produced with X Factor alumni Matt Cardle.
We told how the model-turned-singer was recording an album all about her ex. A source said: “During their relationship she became frustrated with the amount of time that Brooklyn was spending at parties.” At least she’ll have her specialist subject sorted if she fancies Mastermind.
Kath hits nigh note
KATHERINE Jenkins has revealed she has a crush on screen veteran Bill Nighy.
The twinkly-eyed Love Actually actor appears in her Christmas Spectacular, filmed at London’s Royal Albert Hall earlier this year.
Mezzo Soprano Katherine revealed: “He’s in the Christmas movie we’ve just done.
“He’s so amazing. I often tell Andrew (Levitas, her husband) this – I have a secret crush. He’s just such a gorgeous gentleman. I’ve got a real soft spot for Bill.”
Probably a good thing mistletoe is banned this year.
A FENCE was no obstacle for Naomi Campbell’s bodyguard when the supermodel was left stranded in a London park.
Security expert Simon Newton reveals he carried the South Londoner to freedom when his team couldn’t drive her away from a gig in Hyde Park.
He said: “I remember it being hectic because it was all last-minute. We drove straight in but when we were coming out, they put a no-vehicle move ban for two hours. So when we were ready to come out and beat the rush we couldn’t move for two hours, which caused me a bit of a problem.
“So we ended up walking out with everyone else and jumping a fence to get out. We had to carry Naomi over.”
Talk about precious cargo.
Trin’s rub of the grin
TV host Trinny Woodall has an unusual way of coping with loneliness when she’s apart from her partner Charles Saatchi – she massages her face with a metal tool.
She said: “The thing I found most important is self-touch.
“I am in my office all day, by myself. I’ll see Charles in the evening. It’s isolating being in this space so it’s really important, that thing of massaging your face, just having that moment of self-love, so massaging my face is a really ritualistic thing for me.
“Sometimes I use a metal tool.”
Picking up the phone to a mate usually works for us.
Name games: Frankie falls for Jamie No 2
JAMIE Laing’s Made in Chelsea ex Frankie Gaff has moved on to another Jamie after her split from the McVitie’s heir.
Jamie and Frankie had their fair share of relationship drama after both were accused of cheating on the E4 show. They broke up in 2018.
Following that split, Frankie has shacked up with hunky male model and venture capitalist Jamie Dickerson – pictured with her.
A pal said: “Frankie is smitten. She feels really comfortable with this Jamie and trusts him.
“He’s really mature and together, but they have a lot of fun too. She’s really pleased to be dating someone with their head screwed on who has a proper job.”
Better luck with this Jamie . . .
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