Dominic Cotton, a newly unattached former BBC sports journalist, has joined a lonely-hearts dating service, in which he lists his best feature as “my bum”. This may come as some surprise to his glamorous ex-partner,Strictly Come Dancing star Susanna Reid, who, just a few months ago, enthused over how supportive and understanding he was and declared that they were “very, very happy” together.
The couple’s split, after 12 years and three children, has stirred talk of the “Curse of Strictly”, a nightmarish malediction that condemns the show’s beaming, bespangled participants to relationship failure. The toll down the years has been cruel: Countdown beauty Rachel Riley left her husband; newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky broke up with her long-time boyfriend; Denise van Outen’s marriage collapsed; and while boxer Joe Calzaghe fell for his dancing partner Kristina Rihanoff, their love didn’t last.
Yet it is equally likely that Ms Reid, 43, co-presenter of the BBC’sBreakfast show, has fallen victim to “Salford Fever” – an affliction suffered by staff forced to work in the Corporation’s new megabase beside the Manchester Ship Canal. For the past 18 months, Susanna has been commuting 1,200 miles a week between her home in London and the North West. In a recent interview she confessed that the combined stresses of Salford, Strictly and school runs had left her in tears “many times”.
Dominic, it seems, carried a lot of the burden. “He’s doing all the stuff we normally share,” admitted Susanna. “He’s unrivalled as a parent. I can’t even come close.” And so they drifted apart. In his online dating profile, Dominic duly lists “spending time with my kids” among his interests, adding that: “Underneath my blokeish exterior I am a sensitive soul. I enjoy sharing things, and am someone who doesn’t shy away from commitment. Life is for living with someone special.”
Quite where the “bum” fits into this poignant synopsis isn’t clear. Unless Mr Cotton feels it has withstood enough unwarranted impacts to rate its own mention. Just a few days ago, Susanna, snug in a blue parka, was pictured smiling amid speculation that she is about to join ITV on a £1million contract.