Strictly Come Dancing’s biggest rule breakers – from stars’ secret confession before show to dance-off ‘cheat row’


EVERY year, some Strictly Come Dancing fans claim the show’s results are fixed – but it’s now been revealed there are a few clever ways to bend the rules.

Former Strictly pro AJ Pritchard made it to the semi-finals three years in a row with Olympian Claudia Fragapane, The Saturdays’ singer Mollie King, and Paralympian Lauren Steadman.

AJ Pritchard has confessed he bent the rules with Mollie King during his time on Strictly

He made their Rumba less of a traditional one in order to make it to the finals

And he recently confessed to “bending the rules” when it came to his Rumba with Mollie, in order to ensure they stuck out in the minds of viewers and kept their place in the competition.

But he’s not the only Strictly star to have “broken the rules” over the years, as we reveal some of the other naughty cast…

‘Cheating’ in dance-off

AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington were accused of cheating in the dance-off

Last year, when they were in the dance-off against Dan Walker and Nadia Bychkova, AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington were accused of “cheating”.

They were in the bottom two, following a disastrous final lift which went wrong in the main show, but it seemed to be a different ending in the dance-off – when rules state you must dance the same choreography in both shows.

“Did AJ & Kai change the last lift?? It looked different from last night”, asked one person.

“AJ cheated on the lift…judges must of noticed but reasons known to them decided not to notice…shame on you (sic),” wrote another.

However, appearing on It Takes Two later in the week, Kai explained he had to alter the lift in the first dance to prevent dropping AJ.

He said: “I realised if I tried to put her down she would hit her head so I’m just going to wait for her to climb off my shoulder and then usher her back to her end position.” 

AJ added: “I was nervous going into that final lift, so to be able to execute it and show everyone, ‘This is what it was meant to look like’, I was really pleased.”

Revealing show secrets

Tom Fletcher and AJ told each other they were on Strictly before the show started

Tom Fletcher – who was also on the show last year – confessed to one more that that he and AJ both broke before rehearsals had even begun.

When celebrities sign up to Strictly, they have to agree not to tell anyone they are doing it until it is officially announced, with the cast all going under pseudonyms for secrecy.

But McFly star Tom revealed to SE: “Me and AJ told each other because we were both we have a mutual friend. 

“Emma Willis is our mutual friend.

“I think it was Emma who told me, and I think Emma probably told her, so you could blame Emma Willis.

“But yeah we were sat next to each other for about an hour and neither of us said anything but I think we both knew that we both knew and we confided in each other.” 

‘Breaking Covid bubble’

Katya Jones contracted Covid and got herself and Nicola Adams kicked off

The 2020 series of Strictly had even stricter rules than usual, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pros were forced to isolate and form a bubble with their celebrity partner, so they didn’t come into contact with anyone else and risk getting Covid.

But Katya Jones unfortunately contracted the virus, meaning she and her celeb partner Nicola Adams were forced to pull out of the competition.

Katya claimed she got the virus on a visit to a sandwich shop, but Strictly viewers accused the dancer – who was infamously caught kissing Seann Walsh behind her ex-husband’s back – of “breaking the rules”.

“So disappointing,” one fan said. “Makes me wonder if katya has been naughty again. Not following the rules.”

Another said: “@Mrs_katjones somebody hasn’t been adhering to the rules? Putting others at risk. How irresponsible.”

Breaking advertising rules

Tony Adams was seen wearing his own brand clothing on Strictly

Tony Adams was given a stern warning by Strictly bosses after breaking the BBC’s advertising rules in last week’s episode.

On the BBC’s website, it says that “all advertising must be clearly presented as commercial content, distinct from editorial content'”.

It states: “The nature of an advertising relationship must be transparent so that it is clear to the audience that they are seeing a commercial message. Surreptitious or subliminal advertising is prohibited.”

However, during clips of his and Katya’s dance rehearsals, the former footballer was seen wearing tops from his own brand – with the logo clearly on show.

A show insider said: “Tony wasn’t clear on the rules. He didn’t think he was doing any harm. He was just dancing in clothes he feels comfortable in, which just happened to be part of his collection.

“Strictly bosses are going to have a word with him and ensure he’s in line with their rules for this weekend’s show.”

Unofficial Strictly events

Nadiya Bychkova is one of many Strictly pros being investigated

Strictly chiefs have launched a probe after dancers, including Nadiya, Kai and Giovanni Pernice, appeared to fall foul of strict BBC advertising rules, agreeing to perform at Strictly-themed events not affiliated with the actual show.

The dancers, as well as judge Anton Du Beke and former pro Erin Boag, all feature prominently on a travel firm’s ads for Dancing With The Stars Weekends.

Organisers Donahey’s tout three-night breaks at resorts such as Alton Towers and Celtic Manor for £500.

They promise guests will “see the stars of Strictly Come Dancing perform up close and personal for a truly intimate experience unlike any other — learn to dance with them, plus hear all about their Strictly journeys.”

This is despite the fact BBC policy states: “Actors and artists who perform in BBC output should not appear in promotional work, including advertisements, in a way which mimics or replicates their on-air roles for the BBC.”

In the past presenters Nick Knowles and Stacey Dooley breached rules and were punished by the Beeb.

It Takes Two spin-off host Janette Manrara is also booked to appear with dancer hubby Aljaz Skorjanec, who has quit Strictly.

‘Unfair advantage’

Ricky Whittle was accused of having an unfair advantage due to previous training

Former Hollyoaks star Ricky Whittle took part in the 2009 series of Strictly, but was embroiled in a “cheating” row when it was revealed he’d already been trained by one of the show’s choreographers.

Ricky had already taken part in Comic Relief Let’s Dance – and taught by Richard Marcel, who also worked on Strictly – and fans claimed it could give him an unfair advantage.

A show insider said: “Not only has the Beeb failed to mention that Ricky is already a very good dancer, but they’ve kept quiet that he’s even worked with Strictly’s choreographer in the past.

“Under Marcel’s guidance, he put in a stunning performance. It’s really unfair as all the contestants are supposed to be total novices.”

They added: “Ricky learned a lot from Marcel and many of the moves could easily be translated to Strictly.”

Ricky, who was partnered with Natalie Lowe on Strictly, made it to the finals.

But a spokesperson for the show insisted: “Ricky took part in Let’s Dance but it was not Latin or ballroom and he trained for just 15 hours. 

“Some of Strictly’s contestants have some limited dance experience but none are professional dancers.”

‘Ballet cheat’

Trained ballerina Debbie McGee performed ballet in her final dance

Debbie McGee famously trained in ballet as a youngster, so when she took part in Strictly in 2017, fans claimed she had an “unfair advantage”.

But viewers claimed Paul Daniels’ widow actually “cheated” in the show’s final.

All finalists are required to perform a showdance in the last episode, showcasing the dancing they’ve learnt throughout their time on Strictly.

And Debbie, who danced to Vaults’ One Day I’ll Fly Away with partner Giovanni Pernice, scored 38 for her routine.

However, it included a lot of ballet, which viewers said wasn’t fair.

Debbie was even dressed in a tutu.

One viewer tweeted: “Debbie has had classical ballet training. Unfair!!!!”

Another added:  “Why is Debbie Mcgee doin ballet when thats not a Strictly dance (sic)?”