Gemma Atkinson has said her romance with Strictly Come Dancing professional Gorka Marquez developed gradually and there was “no lightning bolt moment”.
Following months of speculation, the former Emmerdale actress, 33, confirmed they were an item in an Instagram post on Valentine’s Day this year.
Alongside a photograph of the pair sitting on a rock together, looking out over the ocean, she wrote: “Here’s to many more kid. Happy Valentines Day @gorka_marquez”.
Talking about their relationship for the first time, she explained that she had no romantic intentions on her mind while competing in Strictly last year because “it was just too stressful”.
She told Fabulous magazine: “We were never hiding anything, but now that we’ve said: ‘Yes, we are together and we’re very happy,’ we can all just get on with it and things can calm down a bit.”
She continued: “We only saw each other for the live show at weekends, and what was happening with me and Gorka was the last thing on our minds – well, on my mind anyway!
“We’d go for coffee together on the Sunday after the show, but had never really spent more than two hours together. Even every week over six months, that’s not enough time to get to know someone.
“I couldn’t have contemplated a relationship while the show was on, it was just too stressful. So it was a gradual thing. There was no lightning bolt moment, unfortunately. Not like in the movies.”
She described Marquez, who was partnered with singer Alexandra Burke during last year’s Strictly, as “your best mate who you can’t keep your hands off”.
She said: “He’s just a really good person. He’s got a great outlook on life and he’s very funny.
“You don’t get to see that side of him on the show, but he’s very easy-going and very caring and always makes sure I’m OK – an old-school gentleman but with the qualities of a mate as well. So it’s like your best mate who you can’t keep your hands off.”
Atkinson was paired with Aljaz Skorjanec for the 15th series of Strictly, which was won by former Holby City star Joe McFadden.