Strictly star Jacqui Smith has been dating her new lover for eight months – but has been able to see him in person for only about two of them.
A combination of the national lockdown and being isolated in a bubble so she can take part in the BBC dance show means the former Labour Home Secretary’s time with her new man has been severely limited.
Instead, she has been conducting her burgeoning romance on Zoom.
Neighbours of Smith in Malvern, Worcestershire, say they have seen her boyfriend – who she met at a yoga class in March but has so far declined to name – only a handful of times.
SPRING IN HER STEP: Jacqui Smith, with Anton du Beke on last night’s Strictly
Johannes Radebe and Caroline Quentin
Despite suggestions that he is younger than her, friends joked that he is ‘age appropriate’.
One neighbour said: ‘He’s very handsome. We have seen him but not spoken to him.’
The former Redditch MP and the man ‘crossed on the stairs’ and she thought, ‘He’s nice.’
He was not in the Strictly audience last night but apparently may go to watch her dance in future.
A source said: ‘Jacqui is very, very keen on this man but it has been very irritating for her that she has barely been able to see him.
‘It’s early days, but only because she has barely seen him for eight months.
‘As soon as lockdown ended, they shared a social bubble but that finished very quickly as then she had to isolate into order to do Strictly.’
Last night she performed the foxtrot to Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life by Monty Python with her dance partner Anton du Beke. The judges gave the pair 13 out of 30.
Craig Revel Horwood described her performance as ‘lumpy’ adding: ‘You need to double your energy, darling. Make sure you close your feet, you could get a semi trailer through there.’
After her dance, Ms Smith said: ‘I have got such a long way to go but I’m pleasantly surprised.’
Katya Jones and Nicola Adams
Ms Smith split from her husband Richard Timney in January after 33 years of marriage. Ms Smith yesterday insisted that she remains on good terms with Mr Timney, with whom she has two sons.
‘We shared the good times, the bad times and we continue to share lots of things about our lives now, even though we are living separately,’ she told the Daily Mail.
‘We have two lovely boys and we’ve shared a lot of previous adventures together and we are taking different paths, but we’ll probably always love each other and want to support each other, and that’s what we are doing. He is supporting me on Strictly.’
Last night’s show saw the first same-sex couple’s performance with Olympic boxer Nicola Adams and Katya Jones dancing the quickstep.
Judge Shirley Ballas said Jones was a ‘genius’ for the routine while Revel Horwood called it ‘absolute dynamite.’ The three judges each gave the couple seven points.
Actress Caroline Quentin was in tears after performing the American Smooth with her professional partner Johannes Radebe on last night’s show.
Judge Shirley Ballas told her she was ‘graceful, charming, elegant and you have the most exquisite sense of timing... You did yourself so proud today. You are exquisite.’
After receiving scores of seven from each of the three judges, Ms Quentin said she was ‘thrilled’.