Denise is in mourning

Denise Van Outen has taken time off from Strictly Come Dancing rehearsals days before the first live show this weekend because her grandfather has passed away.

Steven Matthews, 89, had been ill for some time before he died last Tuesday and Denise had been regularly travelling to her home county of Essex to see him.

‘I am always back in Basildon to see my family,’ said Denise in an interview published on the day Steven died.

‘It is a bit sad because my grandad is not very well in hospital, so we’re visiting all the time.’

BBC bosses are thought to have told Denise, 38, to take off as much time as she needs before the new Strictly series begins.

But the TV presenter is still planning on performing for the judges and is hoping that she and dance partner James Jordan, 34, will be scored highly.

‘She was so close to her grandfather, and his death has hit her really hard,’ a source tells the Sunday Mirror.

‘But she is determined to try to carry on in the show. She’ll be dancing for him when the programme begins.’

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Anna Duff