Strictlys Helen Skelton felt ‘uncomfortable’ getting close to Gorka after split

Helen Skelton was a huge hit on Strictly Come Dancing 2022, even reaching the final, but behind the scenes, she was “uncomfortable” about getting close to pro partner Gorka Marquez. The pair were inevitably thrust close together for their dance routines and suddenly touching faces with another man and getting more up close and personal than she’d intended felt “difficult”.

“I was really surprised at how difficult I found it just being in close proximity to another man that’s not your husband,” she agonised on Tom Bryant’s Outdoors in Mind podcast. “That’s uncomfortable and gives you time to get used to [but] thankfully Gorka totally got that… he’s got a partner [himself].”

Helen had split from her rugby ace husband Richie Myler not long before her Strictly stint, while she had recently become a mum to a baby girl, Elsie, who turns two next month. The 40-year-old had been adjusting to life as a single mum-of-three, co-parenting with Richie when the opportunity to participate in perhaps the biggest Saturday night show in the nation came about.

“Strictly is really terrifying and wonderful in equal measure,” she exclaimed. However, the star added: “[I thought] ‘It can’t be any more terrifying than anything else I’m facing at the minute. It can’t be any more than anything else that I’m having to drown out at the minute, so let’s just go for it!'”

She added playfully that some of the “best decisions” in her life had taken place without her giving them “much thought”. Admitting that she’s “not a planner”, she reasoned: “You can spend your whole life writing pros and cons lists and sometimes you’ve just got to lean into it and live for the moment.”

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That was exactly what Helen did, after friends urged her either to go ahead with Strictly “now” or turn her back on the idea altogether and join a juicing retreat in Ibiza.

At the time her youngest daughter was “tiny” and while some might have struggled with juggling rehearsal commitments and childcare, Helen has insisted that her child’s tender age made things simpler.

Instead of being at an age where she was “embarrassed” about having a famous parent on TV, little Elsie tended to take “three-hour naps during the day”, which allowed her to practise her moves.

That said, the presenter also admitted she faced self-esteem issues about being a sex symbol on-screen while being a mum at the same time.

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“There’s a whole team of phenomenally talented people behind the scenes on Strictly, whose job is to make you feel good, but if it’s not your stuff, you can still feel like a fish out of water,” she confided.

“I remember standing in the salsa outfit… someone said ‘you look amazing’ and I was like, ‘Do I? Because I’ve got to do the school run in about 48 hours.'”

Helen was supported by dance partner, Gorka, who publicly gave her motivational speeches to boost her confidence, telling her onstage that she was an “amazing” and “inspirational” woman.

After one memorable dance, he exclaimed: “I know you may feel like you’re not beautiful or good enough or anything, but if you don’t believe in yourself. I believe in you. Everybody here believes in you.”

Hear more from Helen Skelton on Tom Bryant’s Outdoors In Mind podcast, available here.

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