Sunday 20 October 2019

'All I ever wanted was a bath and peppermint tea' - Clelia Murphy thinks the Strictly curse is exaggerated

Clelia Murphy and Vitali Kozmin Credit: kobpix
Clelia Murphy and Vitali Kozmin Credit: kobpix
Clelia Murphy and Vitali Kozmin during the fourth live show of Dancing With The Stars
Clelia Murphy and Vitali Lozmin dancing a Tango to ‘Verano Porteno’ by Astor Piazzola kobpix
Clelia Murphy and Vitali Lozmin during the Second live show of Dancing With The Stars, dancing a Jive to ‘Tell Her About It’ by Billy Joel. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Sorcha O'Connor

Sorcha O'Connor

Clelia Murphy has told how she could never have been hit by the Strictly curse - because she was always too tired.

The latest celebrity said to have fallen foul of the Strictly jinx is last year's winner, Stacey Dooley (32). The BBC journalist is said to be dating her professional dance partner, 36-year-old Kevin Clifton.

However, Clelia said all she ever wanted to do after Dancing With The Stars was enjoy "a nice hot bath and a cup of peppermint tea". The 43-year-old former Fair City star made it to the show's quarter-finals with professional partner Vitali Kozmin (32).

"I was so exhausted after the shows," she said. "All I ever wanted was a bath and peppermint tea. Maybe I'm naive, but I'll only speak for me. Anyway, I wouldn't believe half the stories you hear."

Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Clelia said everyone in the show had "such a positive experience". She said the real stars were the crew and the producers, who were "fantastic".

She added that she and Vitali, who lives in Estonia with his wife, professional dancer Valeria Milova, had a very professional relationship throughout the series.

"It was great. You can't go wrong if you're being professional," she said. "We were all going in there to work and friendships evolve over time."

One friendship from the show that has lasted for Clelia is that with 41-year-old Peter Stringer. The rugby star dropped in to Cork's Everyman Theatre this week to see Clelia play Eileen, the mother, in the stage adaptation of the Maeve Binchy novel Light A Penny Candle, which runs until tomorrow.

Clelia said she was also going to hit the gym with Peter, something the pair started doing during Dancing With The Stars.

"Peter and Mairead Ronan, we kind of gelled. We're of a similar age," she said. "Fair dues to Peter, he's a rugby player, he hadn't done any dancing. You really are putting yourself out of your comfort zone with it."

Clelia Murphy and Vitali Kozmin during the fourth live show of Dancing With The Stars
Clelia Murphy and Vitali Kozmin during the fourth live show of Dancing With The Stars

Clelia will make her Gaiety Theatre debut next week when Light A Penny Candle moves from Cork to Dublin.

"It's something I've wanted to do since seeing the panto there when I was a little girl," she said. "I'm giddy with excitement."

Joining Clelia for the two-week run are former Red Rock actress India Mullen and stage actress Kate Gilmore, who play Irish girl Aisling and London evacuee Elizabeth who must survive DeValera's Ireland, their raging hormones and the struggle for independence during World War Two.

Through it all, they discover there is no right and wrong in this world, there is only what is right for those you love. Clelia said she was straight into rehearsals for the play when she was voted off Dancing With The Stars at the beginning of last month.

"I believe in trusting the universe, and the night I got voted off I believe Loraine Barry did me a favour," she said. "I was starting rehearsals the next day, and while I wouldn't have got to the final, I left the party early and was able to be present at rehearsals.

"I wasn't thinking, 'I better text Vitali I'll be late'. I was allowed to focus on the moment - we can all attempt to be superhumans, but we aren't, we're human. I haven't had time to have a lull."

Light A Penny Candle runs at the Gaiety from Tuesday until May 4.

Tickets are available from Ticketmaster and the theatre box office.

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