Throughout his seven year Strictly Come Dancing tenure, Kevin Clifton was as famous for his chequered love life as his snake hips.
The thrice-married pro dancer – who quit the show today – romped off into the sunset with 2018 partner Stacey Dooley before being branded a ‘snake’ by her devastated ex-boyfriend, Sam Tucknott.
And after three of Kevin’s partners – Susanna Reid, Louise Redknapp and Stacey – all exited relationships soon after dancing with him, last year producers were rumoured to have taken preventative action by pairing him with Anneka Rice, 61.
“BBC bosses want a sleaze-free show, and are determined to clean up the series’ reputation this year,” a source told The Sun at the time.
“Given Kevin’s reputation, justified or otherwise, no chances will be taken. He won’t be given a hot, single female, or stunning pop star for example.
“Instead the idea is to partner him with a no-nonsense woman.”
But was that really necessary? Despite Sam’s claims that Kevin bombarded Stacey with ‘inappropriate’ texts and stole her from under his nose, he and BBC journalist Stacey are now genuinely in love.
“Kev’s amazing, I’m happy, life happens, I’ve got an amazing career and I’m very lucky,” Stacey gushed to the Guardian.
But with three failed marriages under his belt at the age of just 37, others have warned Stacey to stay on her guard.
“If you do choose to go into a relationship with a 37 year old who has three divorces under his belt, know that the odds of this relationship going the distance, till death do you part, is not in your favour,” relationship expert April Masini previously told Mirror Online.
“It’s pretty apparent that he is someone with commitment issues. He falls in love hard and fast, and unravels relationships quickly.”
Kevin has certainly left a string of broken hearts in his wake.
He first got hitched to amateur Latin world champion Anna Melnikova aged just 20. The pair were dance partners from 2002 to 2006 and tied the knot in 2003.
However, Kevin claimed they split after he ‘fell out of love’ with dancing.
“I wanted to walk away from the whole thing,” he once said.
“I fell out of love with it. My wife divorced me because it was her life. I fell into depression because everything I’d put my life into had burst apart.”
However, he soon started dating trained ballet dancer Clare Craze, who he met in a London salsa bar in 2007.
They moved in together after just eight weeks, and he popped the question at six months, allegedly without mentioning he’d been married before.
While Kevin continued to tour with Anna – and reportedly shared a room with her at his gran’s house – Clare turned her back on her own career and started teaching to raise cash to support him.
They married at St Mary’s Church in Clare’s hometown of Wivenhoe, Essex, where Kev made a speech he allegedly recycled with his third wife, dancer Karen Hauer.
“Kevin made a speech which I thought at the time was very touching. He loves football and it was a line where he compared me to a top-tier football team, saying he was out of my league,” she recalled to the Daily Mail.
“Then I read an interview with Karen about his speech at their wedding and it was the exact same line. I had thought it was sweet – until he had used it again.”
For a while, things were perfect. They both joined popular dance show, Burn The Floor, and toured the world together.
But with Kevin as one of the main dancers, Clare struggled to watch him perform such sensual routines with other women.
She tried hypnotherapy to control her jealousy, and believes that’s why when Karen joined the show in New York, she thought nothing of their chemistry.
On their return to London, however, she says it became very clear that Kevin’s attentions had been diverted.
He went home to Grimsby, saying he needed to recover from bronchitis, then a week later asked Clare to meet him at a bar in Covent Garden.
There, she says, he told her he’d been working out “how he was going to move on.”
“When he told me it was finished it felt like all hope from my life had gone – it was overwhelming,” she continued, admitting she tried to overdose on pills but was found near Waterloo Bridge by some passers-by.
For Kevin’s part, he dismissed their three-year marriage as an unhappy one.
“I was never particularly happy in my previous marriage,” he said at the time.
“I wasn’t myself – a lot of friends and family were telling me that. It was just a bit of a weird time. When I met Karen, I could get on with her on a completely different level.”
He and Karen quickly became an item and got married in 2015 after he proposed on stage her birthday during a performance of Burn the Floor.
Then in 2016 his close friendship with that year’s dance parter Louise Redknapp reportedly sparked ructions.
Louise hailed Strictly her ‘saviour’ and revelled in returning to the stage after 12 years of ‘doing the mum thing’ – with Kevin acting as a constant source of support.
While there was never any suggestion of anything romantic between Kevin and Louise, it was alleged their respective partners Karen and Jamie Redknapp became increasingly worried.
A friend of Karen’s claimed she warned dad-of-two Jamie: “Keep your wife from my husband. She’s ruining our marriage.”
Once Strictly wrapped, Louise left Jamie, explaining she was sick of being a ‘Stepford Wife’, however, both she and Kevin categorically denied any romance.
“No, never. You’re there to do a job and get on with the dancing. That’s what it’s about,” he told The Sun.
And in March 2018, the Clifton’s announced their separation, with Karen turning to therapy.
“It was an intense time that prompted anxiety,” she said. “I found the split very hard to deal with and I panicked.”