Stacey Dooley said she didn’t want to get into a ‘slanging match’ after her jilted ex-boyfriend, Sam Tucknott, branded her partner Kevin Clifton a ‘love rat,’ when their secret romance was unveiled to the public in 2019.
The TV presenter, 34, and her
But according to Stacey, she didn’t anticipate the ‘relentless’ media frenzy and backlash from her ex, as she opened up about her current relationship exclusively to You magazine.
Ex: Stacey Dooley said she didn’t want to get into a ‘slanging match’ after her jilted ex-boyfriend, Sam Tucknott (pictured) branded her partner Kevin Clifton a ‘love rat,’ when their secret romance was unveiled to the public in 2019
‘I was in America when that happened and I’d had no idea it was going to be all over the front pages,’ she said of discovering Sam had sold his story to a tabloid newspaper, accusing Kevin of being a ‘love rat,’ and blaming him for their split.
Stacey continued: ‘I just thought, “I need to take a moment and not react.” I didn’t want to get into a slanging match. Because there was a time when I really loved Sam.
‘I adored his family. And I still really want what’s best for him. I just… feel like I’ve grown a lot. I feel so much more mature than I was then. I want him to have a brilliant life.
‘I’m never ever going to say anything that would hurt him. It’s actually one of the things I really love about Kevin. He and Karen [Hauer, Kevin’s ex-wife and fellow Strictly pro dancer] have always been really amicable.
Moving on: The TV presenter, 34, and her Strictly Come Dancing pro partner Kevin, 38, won the competition in 2018, before becoming a couple, a few months after her split from her boyfriend-of-five-years (pictured in 2018)
‘Karen and I have always been really amicable. We toured the country together for the show. We’re all grown-ups.’
When asked whether it was hard to know that a relationship, started amid all the glitter and glamour, would be ‘real’ outside of the showbiz bubble, she responded: ‘I think that’s why everything was very slow with us and not rushed at all.
‘We finished the show, we went off. Kev lived in London. I was in Brighton. You know, we started seeing each other months after the show had finished.
‘By then there was a brilliant foundation. We were so fond of one another. There was respect. Kev has always respected me and I respected him.
‘It sounds so cheesy! And then you miss it, and there’s been a couple of months where you haven’t seen each other and you’d hang out again and I’d be delighted to see him and, you know… It’s quite a… it’s come from a deep place, I suppose.’
Candid: But according to Stacey, she didn’t expect the ‘relentless’ media frenzy and backlash from her ex, as she opened up about her current relationship to You magazine
When asked what the secret is to a happy and healthy relationship, the TV star added: ‘Kindness. And I’ve learnt to… sort of not have the last word on everything. Also humour. There’s no use fancying someone if they’re not funny.
‘When Kev makes me laugh, that’s when I really want to bite his face off, that’s when I really fancy him.’
Their romance has stood the test of time, but nothing could have prepared Stacey for the explosive media reaction which engulfed her life almost two-years-ago.
‘It was nuts!’ she said, shaking her head as if she can’t believe it all really happened.
‘When Kevin and I first got together, I did really underestimate how much interest there’d be.
‘I understood there’d be a couple of articles or whatever. I can’t blame the public for having an interest, because we met so publicly on an enormous entertainment show. But for the first six months it was pretty relentless.
‘Every time we left the flat, there’d be paps standing out there, down the alley. If we were eating out they’d be hiding behind the restaurant door. It was strange to me because I’d never had that level of intrusion before.’
To Stacey’s relief, the tabloids have moved on and ‘everything’s much calmer now’, she said, reflecting on life in her new home which she shares with Kevin in London.
The media personality said: ‘I have a friend who comes round to help me with my podcast and she says, “Where’s your stuff? There is nothing in this house.”
All the best: Speaking of Sam, she said: ‘I adored his family. And I still really want what’s best for him. I just… feel like I’ve grown a lot. I feel so much more mature than I was then. I want him to have a brilliant life’
‘It’s my first proper house. I’ve always lived in flats. Tiny flats. I’ve never had stairs before. Or a garden. Or my own front door!’
For two people used to living their showbiz careers out of suitcases, they’ve been decorating throughout lockdown.
Stacey has also been keeping busy with projects much closer to home. She’s making a podcast called Fresh Starts, where she talks to people who’ve gone through massive life changes.
Then there’s the three-part BBC2 series she is working on called DNA Family Secrets, which aims to help people trace missing pieces of their family puzzle.
The daughter of a single mum, Diane – her dad having left when she was two – Stacey revealed she knows very little about her paternal lineage.
‘I’ve got a great relationship with my mum, but yes, it’s well documented that my biological father was never around,’ she said. ‘Not a bad guy, just sort of had his own issues and his own demons.
‘But now he’s dead, so you can’t really…’ She trailed off thoughtfully for a moment. ‘I know very little about my father’s side, and I’d love to know more, actually.
‘It’s funny, a couple of years ago I was approached by the Who Do You Think You Are? producers and I said I’d love to do the show.
Smitten: When asked what the secret is to a happy relationship with Kevin, the TV star added: ‘Kindness. And I’ve learnt to… sort of not have the last word on everything. Also humour’
‘They went and did their research and came back saying there was nothing interesting enough about my family history to fill an hour! It’s all Ireland, Ireland, Ireland, Liverpool, Liverpool, Liverpool.’
She continued: ‘As an adult, I think about it more. I’d have liked to know a bit more about my father, what traits I’ve inherited from him. My mum has always been brilliant when I’ve asked questions, and there’s only been a handful of times when I have, but she’s always dignified about the whole thing.
‘Because I’m sure at times it was really tricky. But she answers whatever she can. She says, “Ultimately he gave me you, so I’ll be eternally grateful to him for that.” And I think, that’s so principled. I don’t know if I would be.’
Diane later married Norman, who works in IT, and they had a daughter, Stacey’s sister Olivia, now 27, who studies genetics. ‘She’s the intellect,’ quipped Stacey.
New project: Stacey has been keeping busy with the three-part BBC2 series DNA Family Secrets , which aims to help people trace missing pieces of their family puzzle