Strictly's former bad boy of the ballroom reveals why date nights with his wife keep the romance alive

It’s been an amazing 10 years since Brendan Cole hit our screens as a Strictly professional, winning the first ever series with newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky, and a lot has changed.

The one-time bad boy of the dancefloor, whose former flames include Abi Titmuss and Victoria Hervey, is now a doting dad – his daughter Aurelia with model wife Zoe, 33, was born on Christmas Day 2012 and Brendan’s face lights up every time he talks about his girls. As he gears up for his theatre tour A Night To Remember, we caught up with the 38-year-old to chat Strictly and growing up…

Hi, Brendan. How was Strictly for you this last series?
It was good. We had a 10-week run, which is really admirable.

So you weren’t upset about you and your partner Sunetra Sarker leaving when you did?
Not at all. I think we were both quite happy to leave at that point. We kind of thought: ‘That’s our lot.’

What was the atmosphere like backstage?
There’s a great energy and camaraderie. You spend three months together and people drop off week by week – you generally feel sad about that because you know how much everyone’s enjoying it. It’s such a great thing to be a part of.

Caroline Flack split with her boyfriend during the series. Was it the ‘Strictly curse’ again?
There’s no such thing. Sorry, but that’s the case. I don’t know anything about Caroline’s relationship, but Strictly’s a massively high-profile show. If something happens during
it people like to make it into something, when really it’s just a fact of life that some people
stay together and some don’t.

Which of the judges do you get on best with?
I get on with all of them. I’ve had some on-air run-ins with Craig [Revel Horwood] and Len [Goodman], but never with Bruno [Tonioli] or Darcey [Bussell], which is nice. I think that’s just the nature of the show. It can be handbags at dawn between Craig and me, but then we’ll be at the bar having a drink together after the show.

Would you ever leave Strictly?
I’m sure one day the shoes will have to be hung up, whether it’s because I don’t want to be there or they don’t want me. I love Strictly and it’s a massive part of my life – I can’t quite imagine it not being there. It’s been over a quarter of my life so far. That’s a big chunk of time. I’m very comfortable with it at the moment and hopefully they’ll want me back next year.

You used to be known as the ‘bad boy of ballroom’. Do you think you’ve grown up now?
What a tag to have! I think with age comes a bit of maturity. I started the show when I was 28. You see people come and go and how they react to certain things. It’s a very high-pressured show. When I was younger I didn’t eat the right kind of foods and my diet wasn’t as good as it should’ve been for such intense work.
I attribute my shorter temper and lack of control in certain situations to that!

You used to argue with the judges a lot more…
Some of it was just tomfoolery. It never continued off air – it was a bit of pantomime. Also, for some of those early days I was a single boy about town living in London, going out and staying up late. Now I’m a married man, so I’m in bed by 10pm because I know my daughter will be up at 6.15am.

Has having a family calmed you down?
I wouldn’t say it calmed me down, but I do things very differently. The most important things to me are my wife and my daughter. I’d never want to do anything that would embarrass them. In the old days I didn’t have anyone but myself to embarrass! I want them to be proud of me.

Do you and Zoe have date nights to keep the romance alive?
We do. It’s pretty important to us. Our daughter’s two, so we’ve been learning on the job, but she’s got to the age where we feel comfortable leaving her with a babysitter. It’s important for couples to have a night off, let your hair down and spend quality time together.

* Brendan’s A Night To Remember tour starts on 27 January. For more info, visit brendancole.com

CUTE PICTURES! The way Brendan Cole dotes on his daughter will make your ovaries go *ping*