Strictly: Jamie Laing says first few weeks were 'awful'

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Last year, Karen Hauer was partnered with Made in Chelsea star Jamie Laing, who has admitted he “fell in love” with the professional. The former competitor will be hosting the BBC’s brand new show which combines dancing and dating, I Like the Way U Move, and has spoken out about his close friendship with pro partner Karen.

Jamie has recalled “falling in love” with professional Karen during Strictly Come Dancing’s 2020 series.

The Made in Chelsea star was initially set to compete in the 2019 series with Oti Mabuse, but was forced to pull out due to an injury. 

He took to the stage again with Karen in 2020 and became runners-up after competing in the show’s final. 

Speaking to RadioTimes, Jamie confirmed he and Karen grew incredibly close throughout the series.

Jamie explained: “Every day I fell in love with Karen on Strictly, in a real friendship way. We are still so tight with each other.”

Although Jamie has plenty of experience with on-screen dating from his stint on Made in Chelsea, he and Karen remained unaffected by the so-called Strictly curse. 

As of 2021 he is still living with girlfriend Sophie Habboo, whom he started dating in April 2019. 

Despite his 11-year tenure on the E4 reality show, he also told the publication Strictly was one of the toughest gigs of his career so far.

“Strictly is a monster,” he admitted. “My mum has seen me on TV over the years, and the only thing she’s ever been happy about was Strictly.

“Everyone wants to do it, but, once you’re on it, it’s very tough – you’re effectively learning a new language every single week.”

Jamie bravely returned to the competition in 2020 after landing awkwardly on his right foot during rehearsals the previous year.

Thankfully, after recovering from his injury, the reality star and his partner went on to become one of the couples to beat as the competition heated up in series 18.

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They narrowly missed out on the trophy thanks to a disappointing score for their Charleston, with comedian Bill Bailey and Oti Mabuse taking the win. 

While Jamie and Karen never took their friendship any further, his new series I Like the Way U Move will give contestants a chance to turn dancing into dating.

He previewed: “That is what’s so incredible about I Like the Way U Move.

“These guys have less than 24 hours to learn a dance routine, while falling in love at the same time.

“We don’t want to just see another dating show,” Jamie added.

“People are obsessed with Strictly and if couples are dating or not, and I Like the Way U Move pulls back the curtain so you get to see what happens behind the scenes.”

So far, the Strictly curse hasn’t affected the current series, although viewers are still convinced there’s something between presenter AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington.  

Strictly Come Dancing continues Saturday at 7pm on BBC One.

Read the full interview with Jamie Laing in this week’s Radio Times, out now.

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