Friday 27 April 2018

Alexandra Burke: I felt guilty over Strictly joy after mother’s death

The former X Factor star has said she is having a “genuinely wonderful experience” on Strictly.

Alexandra Burke
Alexandra Burke

By Lucy Mapstone, Press Association Deputy Entertainment Editor

Alexandra Burke has said that her joy at appearing on Strictly Come Dancing left her feeling guilty following her mother’s death.

The singer, 29, said that during one of her recent performances on the BBC One show, which saw her dance a jive with professional partner Gorka Marquez, the “emotion got too much for me”.

Burke received a near-perfect score from the judges for the dance routine to Tina Turner’s Proud Mary – 39 out of 40 – and broke down in tears during the live show as she said she wished her mother was there with her.

The pop star’s mother Melissa Bell died on August 28, the day the stars filmed the Strictly launch show.

Burke told the Radio Times: “If I could lock up my grief and my emotions in a box and throw them in the sea, I would.

“I’m not somebody who wants to cry on TV, believe me. It’s the last thing I want to do and I’ve tried really hard not to, but following our jive the emotion just got too much for me.”

Burke said: “I wasn’t that happy with it in rehearsal and I wasn’t expecting to perform it that well or get the high scores I did, so that minute and 37 seconds on the dance floor felt electric.

“It was the happiest I have been for a very long time.

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Melissa Bell and Alexandra Burke

“But then I saw my brother in the audience on the screen and, within a split second, my delight turned to overwhelming sadness as I imagined my mum sitting alongside him.”

She added: “I immediately felt guilty for feeling such joy.”

Burke said that Marquez also cried after the show had ended, because “he was upset that I hadn’t told him how much I’ve been struggling”.

She said: “But, to be honest, I don’t want to bring my personal stuff to rehearsals. The rehearsal room has become my sanctuary — it is a happy place where I force myself to leave my grief at the door and focus on being creative and having fun.”

Burke said she is “genuinely having a wonderful experience on the show, and I don’t know what I would do without it right now”.

Soul II Soul singer Bell was diagnosed with kidney failure while Burke was competing on The X Factor in 2008.

The Radio Times is on sale now.

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