Countdown's Rachel Riley is 'head over heels' with her old Strictly dancer after her marriage split. PLUS our 5 favourite Strictly romances

Gorgeous Countdown brainiac Rachel Riley has been secretly dating her old Strictly Come Dancing dance partner Pasha Kovalev, it was revealed today.

Pasha, 34, confirmed he has been seeing Rachel, 28, since the start of the summer after they met when they were partnered on the last series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Asked if they got together at the beginning of the summer, months after her marriage to university sweetheart Jamie Gilbert ended, he told the Sun on Sunday: ‘That’s what happened.’

The sizzling pair starred on the BBC1 show for five weeks before they were eliminated after a dance off with eventual winner Abbey Clancy. Friends say they stayed in touch and romance later flourished.

Rachel split from husband Jamie last November. The couple met at the University of Oxford and dated for four and a half years before they split at the end of 2009. They then reunited and got engaged in 2011 but eventually broke up after 15 months of marriage. There is no suggestion anyone else was involved in their decision to split.

Rachel and Pasha’s romance is certainly not the first to come out of the dancing show. Ever since Strictly Come Dancing first aired in 2004, the programme has been plagued with rumours of relationships between the celebrity stars and their dancers.

Here we pick our top five favourite romances:

1. Ali Bastian and Brian Fortuna

Remember them? The former Hollyoaks babe got together with her American dance partner in 2009. Despite their obvious chemistry, the couple didn’t go public with their romance until a week after they were voted off in third place, for fear it would distract from the competition.

In an interview afterwards, she said: ‘He’s a real gentleman and holds doors open for you.

‘He put me at my ease and made me laugh within five minutes.’

While Brian said of Ali: ‘Aside from being physically very attractive, Ali is a beautiful person inside.

‘Ali’s a good, honest girl, very caring, very loving. She’s a catch.’


2. Joe Calzaghe and Kristina Rihanoff

Boxer Joe split from his partner within weeks of joining Strictly in 2009 and soon afterwards started dating his professional dancer Kristina.

They moved in together after a year but eventually split last year.


3. Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev

Our favourite Strictly couple of all was EastEnders star Kara and her Russian beau Artem.

The couple ended up winning the glitter ball in 2010 and it seemed like they would be waltzing their way into old age together when they celebrated their win with a dancefloor kiss.

She said after their win: ‘We’ve got on like a house on fire all the way through, which is quite a big achievement in itself because it’s intense and you do have low moments. Now we’re out of the studio it will be nice to do some normal things like go to the cinema and the shops.’

They moved in together but split earlier this year.


4. Matt Di Angelo and Flavia Cacace

Flavia and ex-EastEnder hottie Matt were paired up on the dance show in 2007 and became embroiled in endless speculation that they were more than just dance partners.

The pair always insisted they were just friends – Flavia had just split from professional dancer Vincent Simone at the time. It also seemed unlikely – Matt was eight years her junior and aged just 19 when they met.

But they eventually started dating after the show ended.

Matt said later: ‘The funny thing was the story did not start off as true, but the more you read it, the more you started to believe it and actually act on it … I started to think that if I am getting all this stick, we might as well go out with each other.’


5. Jimi Mistry and Flavia Cacace

The most successful Strictly love story to date. Actor Jimi and Flavia fell for each other when they were partnered in 2010.

She said they work so well together because they balance each other out, saying he’s so ‘chilled’ whereas she’s ‘disciplined and hard working – probably too much’.

She tweeted on their wedding day on 29 December 2013 that she’d had ‘the most amazing day’.


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