TV

The awkward truth behind Brendan Cole’s appearance on Dancing With The Stars

Sometimes it's hard to escape your past.

When Vanessa Cole and Glen Osborne sought inspiration for last night's jive, there was never any question who they'd turn to - the king of the jive, Vanessa's brother Brendan Cole.
For those of you who might not be familiar with him, Brendan is dancing royalty. He's a former Asian Pacific Latin American Dance Champion and New Zealand Latin American Champion. He was a judge on New Zealand's first four seasons of Dancing With The Stars. He appeared as a professional dancer on 15 seasons of Strictly Come Dancing, the UK version of the show. He was known as 'the bad boy of ballroom.' And he's the former fiancé of current head judge Camilla Sacre-Dallerup.
After watching the clip of Glen and Venessa talking to Brendan via video call from his home in the UK, Camilla described it as "a nice little trip down memory lane."
"That's one of the reasons I'm here today," she said, "being a New Zealand champion with Brendan."
But there's much more to their story than she let on.
Brendan and Camilla Dallerup were together 8 years before their relationship came to a controversial end. Photo: Getty
Brendan and Camilla were together 8 years, as dance partners and as lovers, but Camilla was left devastated when their relationship broke down in 2004 when they both appeared on the first season of Strictly Come Dancing. It all came to a crashing halt amid rumours that Brendan had developed feelings for his celebrity partner, newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky.
Brendan and Natasha went on to win and Camilla, who was partnered on the show with antiques expert David Dickinson, described their break-up as a "mini death."
"I'd never lost anyone before and losing Brendan was like grieving a death," she said. "I lost my business partner, my best friend and my lover all in one go."
Brendan and Natasha's chemistry was undeniable, and rumours of an affair plagued them throughout the show and beyond. For Camilla, it all got too much. "To this day I have no idea whether it was her fame and celebrity that swept him away or if he really did feel a strong connection with her," Camilla told the Daily Mirror in 2015.
"I'm guessing it was probably a bit of both. It felt as if the fact that we'd just got engaged meant nothing to either of them."
"What was really hurtful was not just that Brendan appeared to have forgotten he was engaged, the entire nation seem to have forgotten he was engaged."
Brendan and Natasha's chemistry was undeniable.
Camilla found herself "filled with shame and humiliation" when Brendan kissed Natasha on the lips during a live show, made worse by the fact that her parents were in the audience.
"Of all the shows to choose, Brendan chose that one to congratulate his partner by kissing her on the lips. Right in front of the audience, and right in front of his future parents-in-law, he was kissing the woman I now thought of as my arch-rival for his love. I was broken," she said.
Camilla called off their engagement and moved out of the home they shared, however they continued to work together on Strictly Come Dancing.
After years of silence on the matter, Brendan finally admitted last year that "something happened" with Natasha, but denied he cheated on Camilla. "The chemistry was there, plain for all to see," he said. "I didn't have an affair. Camilla chose to leave. Once you do something, after that it's not an affair."
Camilla and Brendan briefly reunited in 2007 when they agreed to dance together as the UK's entry into the Eurovision song contest. The BBC couldn't help dialling up the drama in their official press release to promote the show.
"For the first time since their split three years ago, Camilla Dallerup and Brendan Cole will dance together one last time as the UK entrants for the first ever Eurovision Dance Contest," it read.
"Despite living and dancing together for over nine years, tensions during the first season of BBC's Strictly Come Dancing caused the pair to separate both on the dance floor and as partners.
"Invited to represent the nation in the new Eurovision Dance Contest, Brendan and Camilla will have to sweep aside their angst and hot-step around a ballroom for their last dance."
And sweep aside their angst they did. For Camilla, it was a chance to put all of the bad blood behind them and get back to doing what they did best.
"We'd had a beautiful career where we travelled the world together but it ended in a mess. I wanted the chance to put it right and have a nice memory of my time with Brendan," she explained at the time.
"It will be our last ever dance together - and Brendan's last professional one - so it will be very emotional. We have a love for the dance we created together and that's what we want to hold on to, our most fantastic memories."
They placed fourth in the competition.
Brendan and Camilla represented the UK in the 2007 Eurovision Dance Contest. Photo: Getty
Both Brendan, 43, and Camilla, 45, have found love since their break-up. Camilla is happily married to former British soap star Kevin Sacre. They married in 2010 in Ibiza, two years after meeting on reality TV show The Underdog.
"I thought he was cute but so cocky and ridiculously competitive," Camilla says of their first meeting. "The other girls were fawning over him, but I wrote him off because he was an actor and I didn't want another relationship in the public eye."
Camilla gave up professional dancing in 2008 to become a life coach and self-help author. She and her husband now live in Los Angeles.
Brendan married British model Zoe Hobbs in 2010. They are parents to six-year-old daughter Aurelia and one-year-old son Dante.
He was fired from Strictly Come Dancing in early 2018 after 15 seasons on the show. Producers were said to be fed up with his "huge ego and difficult behaviour." The final straw came after he spoke out about his celebrity partners.
"I don't have a say in who I am partnered with," he said. "I don't think you would do it if you knew who some of them were.
"I have not liked a few of them. It is more than 50% I have liked. When you meet people and work with them, you don't necessarily like all of them. Can I say that? I'm going to get fired, aren't I?"
Just weeks later he found out the BBC hadn't renewed his contract.