John Whaite and Johannes Radebe | Image Credit: Getty Images

You may recall, a few years back, there was an awful lot of excitement over the fact that reality competition series Strictly Come Dancing was featuring its first-ever gay male couple.

In its 19th season, the U.K. series—which directly inspired Dancing With The Stars—made history by enlisting former The Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite to compete with out professional dancer Johannes Radebe.

The pair was a force to be reckoned with, turning out countless memorable dance routines (we’re still drying our tears from their performance to Adele’s “Hometown Glory”). And though they ultimately placed second—behind Eastenders‘ Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice—they had won over fans of the show.

But what we saw on the dance floor? Oh, honey, that was only half the story.

Speaking with The Times in support of his new memoir, Dancing On Eggshells: Kitchen, Ballroom & The Messy Inbetween, Waithe opens up about the intense connection he had with Strictly‘s Radebe, revealing there was far more going on there than just in-sync dance steps:

“I fell in love with him,” Whaite shares. “I can’t speak for him—because I’m not allowed to, legally—but it felt like there was love there.”

Of course, rehearsals for the show meant the two spent a lot of quality time together, and there are very few disciplines where professional partners have to get as intimate as they do in ballroom dance. But the baker also feels he and Radebe come from similar backgrounds, and sensed a “a beautiful symmetry” in their lives.

Now, this wouldn’t be the first time reality TV contestants fell for each other—U.S. counterpart Dancing With The Stars, for example, has spawned its fair share of couples—but the thing is, Whaite was already in a relationship.

Whaite has been with partner Paul Atkins for over 15 years and even got engaged in 2017.

He tells The Times he had communicated his feelings for Radebe with Atkins throughout Strictly‘s run, but reveals that after the competition was over, the fiancés “spent some time apart,” during which time Whaite was “drinking bottle after bottle of sauvignon blanc.”

Though Whaite maintains he still loves Radebe, he shares he has since gotten back together with Atkins after realizing he couldn’t just throw their relationship away. And it sounds like the entire experience has taught him valuable lessons, inspiring him to look at life—and love—in a whole new way:

“You go through life being told that you’ll fall in love with someone, you’ll get married, you’ll have children and that’s it,” Whaite tells The Times. “But love can’t just be directed to one person. The heart can easily split into two or three or four. And those loves aren’t mutually exclusive.”

As for Radebe, the Bake-Off winner says the two former dance partners still speak, though not as frequently, which was a “sacrifice” he was willing to make for Atkins’ sake.

“And also for Johannes, he needs to move on with his life too,” Whaite adds. “I hope I always am in contact with him. We shared something really important and that will never be taken away from us.”

John Whaite and Johannes Radebe | Image Credit: Getty Images

Surely, we can expect to hear more when his memoir Dancing On Eggshells, hits bookshelves on November 7. It’s said the book will find him opening up about how he came out to the world through Bake-Off, his struggles with health and body issues, and how competing on Strictly “changed his life and relationship with his long-term partner, Paul, for the good.”

10s across the board for that!

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