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Strictly Come Dancing's Sophie Ellis Bextor says the show is like a 'cult' and took a toll on her marriage

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Former Strictly Come Dancing star Sophie Ellis Bextor has opened up about her time on the show, describing it as being "like a cult" and commenting on the so-called 'Strictly curse', saying it "shook the foundations" of her marriage.

Sophie was a contestant on the show back in 2013, paired with professional dancer Brendan Cole. Writing in her new book Spinning Plates the singer revealed that competing on the show was so intense she and husband Richard Jones - whom she married in 2005 - had some problems.

"Some of the show was pure joy and exhilaration," she said. "But some of it was seriously intense and, even for a strong marriage like we have, it gave our foundations a good old shake."

The singer spoke about the famous 'Strictly curse', saying that she isn't surprised the show can cause rifts in relationships - on her season alone there were three marriage breakups.

"I had to pay quite a heavy price, and Richard, too... Richard started to struggle with my involvement from the launch show onwards. It was so hard for him that I can remember wondering if they'd ever had a contestant walk away from the show before they'd even danced their first dance," she explained, adding of her husband, "He just felt as if I might slip into a new life that left our family behind."

She commented on the physical closeness required of the pairs, and even the fact that they're referred to as "couples" on the show. She also added that dance partner Brendan encouraged her to involve her husband - with whom she shares five children - as much as possible, since the process can become overwhelming and time consuming.

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

She goes onto explain that she now sees the show as being "like a cult" and that she is thankful her marriage remains strong.

She explained that on the final day of filming the contestants were interviewed about the experience; "We were asked questions such as: 'Is this the best thing you've ever done?' 'How incredible has your dance partner been?' 'What will you do to fill the hole after Strictly?'

"And I had the epiphany that, oh my god - it’s like a cult! Trigger words and the constant repetition of how much it must mean to you."

Cosmopolitan UK has reached out to the BBC for comment.

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