All the tricks we used to keep our romance secret including wearing disguises, reveal Strictly’s Kai and Nadiya


STRICTLY Come Dancing has become as famous for its Glitterball as it has the romances spawned over the past 20 years.

Last year, the smash BBC show heralded the birth of its most glamorous couple to date: Pro dancers Nadiya Bychkova and Kai Widdrington.

Nadiya Bychkova and Kai Widdrington kept their Strictly romance secret

Kai says he still has to pinch himself that he is dating Nadiya

Now, in their first ever newspaper interview, the loved-up pair reveal the lengths they went to to keep their romance secret — and their hopes for the future.

Kai says: “I think I speak for most of the men in Britain when I say that they would find Nadiya absolutely drop-dead gorgeous — and I still have to pinch myself sometimes.

“We liked each other, and we were texting and having phone calls and so on, and yeah, it blossomed from there.

“Then one day I was like ‘do you want to go out for dinner?’, and it went from there.

“We knew that it would come out and that it would be a big thing, so we kept it private for as long as we could, which was both annoying and exciting at the same time.

“It was one of those things. We would go somewhere and only we knew we were there.

“Sometimes we would go out in disguise, or baseball caps pulled down low, etc, and we knew this period of time was only going to last a little bit.


“Obviously we worked together but it wasn’t like we had to go and tell HR.

“But we did let our bosses know as a professional courtesy, that was our decision.

“The BBC were totally fine with it, plus our relationship never crosses into work.”

The couple got together last year, while Nadiya, 33, from Ukraine, was partnered with then-BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker, and Southampton-born Kai, 27, was dancing with AJ Odudu.

Ironically — given the pair were secretly falling in love — both were subject to rumours about their partners. It wasn’t, they admit, easy.

Nadiya was previously paired with BBC host Dan Walker and spent time with his family

Kai explains: “I am there to do a job.

“Sometimes when you do dances like the Argentine tango or a rumba, it looks like you are close, and for all the people writing about chemistry or whatever, that means I have done a good job.

“People will think what they want to think, and I know and — now you know — there was never anything there, and that is it.

“I was giving her direction, profess­ionally, there was nothing more.

“But when you’re partnered with a celebrity, you work around their schedule. It’s intense, and they’re messaging you 24/7, it’s never-ending.”

Nadiya adds: “You care about them and you want them to do well because you’re their coach and teacher.

“But at the same time, you’re a team-mate. So it’s a very challenging position for us to be in.

“You’re with them holding their hand, you’re there on the floor, sometimes you can’t do anything.

“I mean, the boys at least can move the women around. But I can’t. And I usually get those tall, big men!

“But Dan was great. We are still good friends and his children hang out with my daughter (Mila, six), and I love his wife, Sarah, she’s brilliant. They’re such a beautiful family.”

So what’s it like being in the Strictly bubble?

“Like being in an episode of (psychological reality show) The Traitors,” deadpans Nadiya.

“It’s so intense, emotions run high and you just have to focus on training and ignore all the headlines and the stuff around it so that you don’t go mad.”

Kai and Nadiya are launching their own nationwide dance tour in March

Chatting over coffee in a West London cafe, the pair are evidently wildly in love, often finishing one another’s sentences and touching (cutely, not weirdly) during our conversation.

In March they are launching their inaugural nationwide tour, Once Upon A Time which, surely, is a nod to both their love story and stratospheric rise to fame over the past two years: “Yep . . . it’s our own modern-day fairytale.”

The stunning, interactive two-hour show — which they both choreographed — will detail their journey falling in love as well as showcasing their ballroom journeys.

It will feature private video clips of their romance filmed on their mobiles plus surprise performances from a “familiar Strictly face”.

Determined to keep it in the family, five-time world champion Nadiya’s mum is designing all her dresses.

“It will be a feelgood show”, they explain.

“People think they know us from the headlines but they don’t really. It will be nice for them to hear our story, from us.

“Like Strictly, it will be family friendly, and we want to be able to make people both laugh and cry. Every night will be different.

“We are nervous, but this is something both of us have always dreamed of.”

Are the couple, who saw in the New Year in Belgium, engaged? No. But don’t rule it out . . . 

Says Kai, with the couple’s five- month-old English bulldog Snoopy perched precariously on his lap: “Listen, what can I say . . . we are very happy together and we don’t want this to end. Of course we want to be together for life, so we will see where it goes.”

Nadiya says fellow dance pro Kai made the first move to begin their romance

And who made the first move?

Nadiya explains: “Kai is a gentleman, he made the first move. I come from East Europe, and that is still how things are.

“Men are gentlemen and buy women flowers. That is the way I was brought up.

“I absolutely love flowers but in this country when you give a woman flowers they start thinking that the man did something wrong!

“It is not that I would never ask him out — I still ask him out and I would take him for dinner — but yes, he is a gentleman and he took me out for dinner the first time.

“He is amazing, very romantic, and we are very, very happy.”

Kai, who says he remembers being glued to the screen as an eight-year-old during the very first episode of Strictly in 2004, admits to being bullied as a child after taking up dance.

As a result he wants to set up his own elite academy for girls and boys when he retires.

Inspiringly, he also wants to campaign to get dance put on to the national curriculum so that more youngsters, from all walks of life, will be taught.

Of his Billy Elliot-esque upbringing, he recalls: “I was teased. I came in on a Monday morning with fake tan and would get called Terry’s Chocolate Orange and all these horrible names.”

The mickey-taking only fuelled Kai’s determination to improve his dance skills.

“So by the end of my school years I was world champion,” he continued.

“Now it’s nice that it’s come full circle. We are going on tour and I think my old headmaster and a lot of my teachers, will be there. Hopefully some of my bullies too!”

On the future he adds: “Unless your parents are dancers, or wealthy, it’s very hard to break into dance, I want to help change that.

“Dance makes you very well mannered, you hold the door open for people and it just helps you to be nice.”

“I would love to start a campaign, and get it on the national curriculum — taught in all schools, just as kids learn PE or maths.”

Naturally the past few months have been difficult for Nadiya due to Vladimir Putin and his merry band of madmen. Her mum and grandmother are still in Ukraine.

Nadiya’s mum Larisa is from Ukraine and flew back there last month

She says her family have been battling hostilities since 2014.

She adds with a sigh: “We are all affected, no matter if we are there or have family in the Ukraine, it is a world problem now.

“My mum flew (to Ukraine) just before Christmas. It was my grandmother’s birthday and unfortunately she had some health issues.

“It took her three days to get there with flights, buses, etc.

“There is still no heating, electricity. I think they have it once or twice a day for an hour.

“Since 2014, I have been checking on YouTube, ‘Is our house OK?’ We had a bomb right into the living room.

“My grandmother’s house we had to have fixed up, and now all the bombing has started all over again.

“There are a lot of families that come here with no clothes or anything.

“I gave a lot of my things, and I had some family who had to run away and they were almost killed but thankfully they are OK.

“These are scary times, and of course it is tough, but it really helps that the world knows now, it helps so many people.”

  • For more information on Kai and Nadiya’s forthcoming tour, and to buy tickets, visit

Kai and Nadiya spoke exclusively with HOAR’s Clemmie Moodie in their first interview since their romance became public