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The Strictly Come Dancing curse - Sunderland academic dives into the minds of Seann Walsh and Katya Jones

Seann Walsh is the favourite to leave Strictly Come Dancing this weekend. Picture: Ray Burmiston/BBC.
Seann Walsh is the favourite to leave Strictly Come Dancing this weekend. Picture: Ray Burmiston/BBC.

Strictly Come Dancing’s Seann Walsh and Katya Jones have dominated the headlines for almost a week after they were caught in an embrace after a night out.

Since the story broke last weekend, both the comedian and his professional partner have said sorry on social media, and addressed the incident on Strictly's mid-week show It Takes Two, hosted by Zoe Ball.

Comedian Seann has also been publicly dumped by his girlfriend, actress Rebecca Humphries.

There have been calls this week for the couple to be axed from the show - but it has been confirmed by show bosses that Seann and Katya will take to the floor this weekend.

They are set to dance a Charleston to No. 2 hit Bills, by LunchMoney Lewis.

As the couple continue to hit the headlines for their actions, a Sunderland University lecturer has taken a look at what will be going through their minds, and if the criticism they are facing is deserved.

Dr Helen Driscoll has more than 10 years experience teaching at universities across the North East.

Dr Helen Driscoll has more than 10 years experience teaching at universities across the North East.

Dr Helen Driscoll is a senior lecturer in Psychology, and an expert on sexual behaviour.

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She said: “The public reaction to what happened between these two has passed some harsh judgement on them this week.

“Infidelity always piques the public interest. During human evolutionary history - as well as now - infidelity has always been quite common because it could increase reproductive success.

“However, in the ancestral environment, women risked losing the investment and protection of their partner, and men risked cuckoldry - unknowingly raising another man’s child as their own - as a result of infidelity. This means that many of us react strongly to infidelity.

“Because we feel we get to know celebrities such as those in Strictly very well, seeing them on TV each week, we have a tendency to react to significant events in their lives as if they were part of our social group, and this results in a great deal of interest when things like infidelity occur.”

The couple's private lives are now in the public domain, with Strictly viewers set to be scrutinising their every move as they take to the floor on Saturday.

Dr Driscoll has explained how the couple may cope with the pressure.

She continued: "They will probably be aware that all eyes are on them and will need a lot of resilience and composure to perform well.

"They may also feel the need to defend themselves against some of the criticism they have received, and may be keen to restore their public image.

“Seann and Katya may feel inclined to physically distance themselves from one another in the public eye as a signal to others that their apologies are genuine.

"This means that dancing together may feel psychologically very uncomfortable for them."

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Since its start in 2004, Strictly has been plagued by rumours of infidelity and the so-called "Strictly curse", with a number of celebrities getting together with their professional dancers, or splitting with their real-life partners.

Just this season, contestant Susannah Constantine quipped "bring on the Strictly curse" when she was partnered with fan-favourite Anton Du Beke.

The couple were the first to be eliminated in week two.

Seann and Katya are now the bookies' favourite to leave this weekend.

Dr Driscoll added: “The fact that dancing is a courtship ritual and involves such close physical contact will make it difficult for Seann and Katya to escape the perception of them as more than friends.

“Strictly has been linked to a number of celebrity relationship splits. The intimacy associated with regularly dancing with a Strictly partner may go some way towards explaining this ‘Strictly curse’.”