'Now I understand the Strictly curse... it's so intense' - Model Thalia Heffernan
Thalia Heffernan has said she now understands why so many celebrities have had flings with their partners on BBC1 show Strictly Come Dancing.
The 21-year-old Dancing With The Stars contestant said the whole experience was "intense".
The British show gave rise to the 'Strictly curse' when several celebs left their partners after becoming romantically involved with their professional dance partners.
After spending so much time in rehearsals with dancer Chris Pritchard, Thalia said she understands how it can happen.
"I didn't know that was a real thing. I understand it now," she told the Herald. "It's such an intense experience.
"I've never ever been that close to someone I wasn't in a relationship with, be it the number of hours you spend with them or the dancing itself.
"You're one on one in a studio for hours. We do 12 hours a week, sometimes less, sometimes more."
Chris is the younger brother of AJ Pritchard who is a professional dancer on the UK series.
While they have a great relationship, the Ranelagh model said Chris can be a tough boss in rehearsals.
"They're all very tough. They have that competitive streak and they're here to win it," she said.
"He's tough on me, but I make fun of him all the time. Then he makes fun of me. It's all light-hearted, but he definitely has whipped me into shape."
Thalia has yet to dance on screen because only the male contestants performed in the first episode.
With a few more days until she takes to the floor, Thalia admitted she is eager to get the performance over with.
"The whole thing is a complete blur and I didn't even have to do much. I can only imagine what the next episode is going to be like," she said.
"We have a nice idea of the set and how it runs which is great, but now we have another week of waiting. I kind of just want to get it over with now.
"The boys had this amazing sense of relief after their dances."
Thalia admitted the show is not for the faint-hearted and there is no room for apprehension.
"There's an awful lot of skin on show. You have to have so much confidence," she said.
"It's like the stage school thing. You just have to put on a smile and brave it out no matter what happens."