Why Did 'Strictly's Kevin & Karen Split? Here's Why The Pair Still Perform Together

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Seeing Karen and Kevin Clifton dance their way across the Strictly stage has long been one of the highlights of the show, however watching them partner up for last week’s pro group dance was very bittersweet. Earlier this year, the pair sadly revealed that they had split in March and since then they’ve returned to the BBC One show as co-stars. But why did Strictly’s Kevin and Karen split? Even though their dance chemistry on the show was undeniable, it sounds like Strictly was their downfall.

Karen revealed in an interview with The Daily Mail that their their busy Strictly schedules were both a blessing and a curse for their relationship. She said, “Strictly was the glue that was keeping us together but it was also the workload that was leaving us with no time to communicate. To some, it’s like “Oh, you’re both on television and living a glamorous life” but it wasn’t at all like that.”

TBH, I can’t even imagine the immense pressure and workload the show's pro dancers are under. Beyond teaching a set of inexperienced celebrities, they also have to make sure their professional group dance routines are slick AF.

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Somehow, they manage to make it all look effortless, like in the dance number above — the first time the pair had danced on the show since announcing their split. Unsurprisingly, there’s a serious amount of rehearsal time that goes into performances like that. Even though they were together constantly and working day in and day out, Kevin and Karen's personal life apparently took a big hit.

"We were working from 6am until 11pm and by the time we got home there would be no time to do anything,” Karen told the The Daily Mail. “There was no opportunity for us to connect and we started going in completely different directions. We communicated well professionally, but that didn’t translate into our relationship.”

She continued, “We weren’t getting what we both needed from our marriage any more and that was a huge thing. We weren’t doing the things we would usually do. You think you’ll work on this stuff later, but because of work you don’t address the problems. It’s very hard to pay attention to your relationship when you’re paying so much attention to work.”

Karen and Kevin revealed that they had chosen to part ways romantically but planned to carry on working together in an interview with The Chris Evans Breakfast Show Today earlier this year.

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Kevin told the host, “Privately we are not together anymore but professionally we are stronger than ever before...We’re still the best of friends – we still have a lot of love and respect for each other.”

Karen recounted the exact moment that they realised their marriage wasn’t working anymore in her recent interview with The Daily Mail. “[Our marriage] just snapped out of nowhere and we realised that the love we had for one another had gone. It was such a sad day...It was heartbreaking for me to realise that the person I had spent seven years with was no longer the person I’m in love with," she explained. "We woke up and were in bed when we had 'the talk'. We had to be real with one another and make a really hard decision. We tried to figure out if it could be saved but we didn’t find a way. We both cried as we realised we were just not working any more.”

I’m not going to lie, reading that yanked violently on my heartstrings. I also totally respect her for being so unflinchingly honest about everything.

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It’s easy to be blinded by the glitz and glamour, but even the most high profile celebrity relationships aren’t immune to a sad fact of life: that sometimes people aren’t right for one another anymore and things can sadly fall apart.

Bustle has reached out to a representative for Kevin to see if he has anything further to say about Karen’s comments and I’ll update you if I hear anything back. I also chatted with a spokesperson for Karen, who confirmed that her surname will remain as Clifton moving forwards.

It’s not all bad news however, as the pair have managed to maintain a "nice friendship,” with Karen commenting that they “laugh and giggle in a way that we didn’t for a long time”. Even though I’ve no doubt their split was painful, it sounds like it might have been the best thing for them.

Karen is one of the longest running Strictly professionals and this series marks her eighth year with the show, so fingers crossed she snags the Glitterball trophy this time around. She’s currently paired with actor Charles Venn from Casualty, while Kevin has been showing presenter Stacey Dooley the ballroom dancing ropes.

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Strictly Come Dancing series 16 airs Saturdays at 6.30pm on BBC One. You can also catch up on the show’s previous episodes on BBC iPlayer.