STRICTLY Come Dancing ex-champions Darren Bennett and wife Lilia Kopylova are watching the new series of the show at home – after waltzing off to work on other projects.
But the programme’s most successful professionals ever, who have won seven trophies between them, have not ruled out a return at some stage.
“Never say never, but at the same time you have to move away to do new things,’’ Darren told The Star in an exclusive chat.
He was speaking ahead of the couple hosting and performing in a two-night spectacular at City Hall tomorrow and Thursday, to celebrate 30 years of their Sheffield family’s City Limits dance school,
City Limits: A Night at the Movies will see hundreds of dancers aged three and up showcasing routines based on the greatest movies of all time.
It’s one of the many projects Darren and Lilia want to concentrate on, along with teaching, training and judging. There are also plans to revive their Latin Fever West End show, while they remain the driving force behind Essentially Dance, an initiative to teach dance in schools.
Moscow-born Lilia, 33, who won Strictly with Barnsley-born cricketer Darren Gough in 2005, left the show last year. Darren, 34, who won with EastEnders star Jill Halfpenny in 2004, stayed on to do group dances and choreography.
But both remained heavily involved with the franchise. Lilia was head judge on the first series of the Turkish version and Darren consulted on the French version.
“If you’re not on TV, or you’re not seen every week, people think you are sitting at home – but I can assure you that would be quite nice!” said Darren. “We had six fantastic years on Strictly and we really enjoyed it. We will still be watching it, like everybody else.”
The couple live near London but have kept a home in Sheffield, returning regularly to support family and staff at City Limits on Penistone Road.
* Tickets for A Night at the Movies are £12. Call 0114 278 9789 or, visit arenaticketshop.co.uk